Robert Rivera of Robbie's Key and Lock shop said a customer brought in the old safe and told him the family of a recently deceased man had given it to him to sell as scrap, KTRK-TV, Houston, reported Thursday.
"Sometimes it gives up easy, sometimes you've got to work at it," Rivera said. "I was going to get some C4 [explosives]."
Rivera said the crew was able to open the safe after a couple of weeks' work, and they were shocked to find it contained boxes of gold coins.
"We thought it was fake, that it couldn't be real gold," Rivera said.
Mike DeGuerin, an attorney for the family of the recently deceased man, said the coins are being returned to the family as part of an agreement with the man who received the safe to return any valuable contents.