Boxes containing $1.5 million jewelry, master tapes of British band Joy Division and even a gun were allegedly discovered in the basement of the site of Jamie Oliver’s new restaurant in Manchester, UK.
They were found in hundreds of safe deposit boxes – some of them dating back to 1935 – in the vault of the old bank site, which Jamie Oliver has converted into a restaurant.
According to The Sun, a source said: “There were all sorts in the boxes – even a gun in one.”
HSBC bank, the former occupant of the building, said it could not confirm exactly what was in the boxes due to customer confidentiality.
A spokesman said: “Even if I knew exactly what was in those boxes I would not be able to comment on that for reasons of confidentiality.
“We cannot reveal the precise contents, but these are safe deposit boxes – there are bound to be valuables in there.
“If we did find anything illegal in there we would be required to notify police.”
A spokesman for Jamie Oliver said: “The haul was actually removed before we moved in.”
The restaurant site, in Manchester, was an old Midland bank – which merged with HSBC in 1992.
The Grade II listed building – known locally as the King of King Street – was designed by Edwin Lutyens in 1928.
When HSBC moved to a new site in 2008 they had to transfer the contents of the boxes – it was then that the so-called haul was discovered.
A spokesman for HSBC added: “We were moving to a new site and wanted to transfer the safe deposit boxes.
“However [because the building is a Grade II listed building] National Heritage said we were unable to take the actual boxes with us, because they were part of the structure.
“At no point were drills used to break them open – we just used the keys we had.
“The owners would have been contacted and the contents transferred to secure storage at the new site.”
Jamie Oliver’s team acquired the property in 2010 and started work on the site in March 2011.
An excerpt from Jamie Oliver’s website reads: “The basement vault room has wall to wall original safety deposit boxes where the people of Manchester stored their heirlooms, mementos and collectables since the building’s completion in 1935.
“Our designers and architects have been visiting the vault room since March 2011, and regardless of who they’re with they can’t resist ‘checking’ at least one safety deposit box for any unclaimed goods.”
Jamie Oliver’s restaurant will be spread over three levels, with the bank’s old ground floor banking hall, mezzanines antechambers in the old clerks’ offices and the basement vault room all being transformed.
The diner opens this week in Manchester City Centre, next to the restaurant owned by Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand.
In a statement on his website, Jamie Oliver said: “I’ve wanted to open a Jamie’s Italian in Manchester for years but we’ve never found the right location, until now.
“It’s going to be a wonderful place to eat and one of the jewels in the Jamie’s Italian collection.”