LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — When the renovation of the Maxfield Building in downtown Los Angeles’ Fashion District began, Scott Claster was hired to oversee construction.
“This essentially was the first story we got started on,” said Claster in recalling the moment back in 2012 when he came across a large safe covered in concrete and steel on the mezzanine level.
“The mystery was just like intriguing,” Claster said.
With a few bets on the line and a locksmith’s help, they eventually made their way into the safe.
Among the tax documents and old pictures, they found an old tin lunch pail with jewelry wrapped inside.
Claster took just a portion of those jewels to be checked out and discovered they were worth more than $100,000.
But instead of taking the money, he found the jewel’s rightful owner: Steve Needleman.
“He was very thankful, a little overwhelmed,” said Claster, who even refused the $2,000 reward offered in exchange.
His employer, Naty Saidoff, says he’s proud but not surprised.
“I knew that Scott is all about integrity,” said Saidoff of Claster, who is an American who became an Israeli soldier and was awarded the Medal of Honor.
“That’s what we should do. It shouldn’t be something that warrants credit,” Claster said.
But the story doesn’t quite end there.
The construction will be completed in the next few months and the overall project was possible in part because of Needleman.
Needleman’s family used to own the Maxfield Building and was able to provide documents that helped secure a historic preservation tax break to the tune of $1 million.
“It was greater than the value of the jewels,” Saidoff said.