Relatives settle over eccentric Swede's tin can riches

TT/The Local
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Relatives settle over eccentric Swede's tin can riches

The relatives of a man who spent the last three decades collecting empty cans on the streets of a town in northern Sweden have settled out of court over the division of his unlikely fortune.


At the time of his death in the autumn of 2008, 60-year-old Curt Degerman, known to the residents of Skellefteå as “Burk-Curt” (‘Tin-Can Curt’), had amassed a fortune worth more than 12 million kronor ($1.4 million).

Degerman, whose riches were put down to an inherently frugal nature and shrewd stock market investments, wrote a will leaving his fortune to a cousin who had visited him regularly in the later years of his life.

But after the sizeable nature of Tin-Can Curt's estate came to light, an uncle decided to contest the right of his relative to the unexpected windfall.

According to Sweden's inheritance law the uncle held the legal right to inherit his nephew's riches and the dispute was headed for Skellefteå district court until the pair elected to settle their differences out of court on Monday.

After a couple of hours of negotiations the pair confirmed that they had been able to reach agreement but neither party was prepared to discuss any details.

While alive, Curt Degerman cut a solitary figure cycling around the northern Swedish town in a blue jacket and ragged pants.

In between collecting cans and bottles from the coastal city's rubbish bins he could be found engrossed in the business papers in the city library studying the stock market.

"He went to the library every day because he didn’t buy newspapers. There he read [Swedish business daily] Dagens Industri,” a cousin told Expressen at the time of his death.

“He knew stocks inside out.”

And Tin-Can Curt used that investment nous to turn the modest deposits he collected from returning empty cans into mutual funds worth more than 8 million kronor.

In addition, he had purchased 124 gold bars valued at 2.6 million kronor and had nearly 47,000 kronor in the bank.

Tin-Can Curt also owned his own home, which was found to have 3,000 kronor in loose change, bringing the total value of his estate to 12,005,877 kronor.

The closet millionaire died of a heart attack in his sleep in the autumn 2008.


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