Thursday 14 April 2011

Owning the Loch Ness Monster

An old story from 2009 caught my attention recently and made me ask the question: "If Nessie was captured, who would own her?". The story was an article on how bookmakers William Hill and the Natural History Museum had an agreement where the museum would provide expert advice on verifying the existence of the creature but also in return having the option of displaying the beast.

The story is here.

The article seemed to imply that William Hill would somehow have property rights on the carcass or live animal else how could the museum gain access to it? One doubts that such an event was likely or even legal. If a carcass was found by myself or anyone then the same procedure that applies for finding treasure trove should apply. Since Loch Ness is in Scotland then common scots law would apply (unless superceded by EU Law which we assume not here).

In such a case, if the item is regarded as precious or of national importance then the Crown of Scotland would have first claim on it. A panel from the Crown Office will ejudicate the matter and normally offer the trove to the appropriate museum or institution. Since the Crown Office will normally allow a reward to be paid to the finder, it is then up to the museum to raise the funds to purchase the items at "market value".

What is the "market value" of a live or dead Nessie? I doubt the Scottish Parliament would allow such an iconic item to leave the nation and hence outside bids would be disallowed unless they agreed to leave the body on show in Scotland.

I would suspect given William Hill's offer of £1 million in 2007 for positive proof of Nessie, that such a figure would be the starting bid!