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Let's say, for whatever reason, someone found a lost object but did not get around to publicizing it for over a year. Does the Mitzvah to publicize it still apply, assuming that after the long duration the owner is probably yeush (has abandoned hope)?

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Better late than never. –  Gershon Gold Jul 23 '13 at 0:38
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In short, yes.

You seem to be talking of a case where someone found a lost object that had identifying marks and some degree of value, and there was no reason to believe that the owner gave up hope of finding it before you picked it up. That would give the finder the requirement to guard it which, at that point, can't be nullified by the owner giving up hope. The finder must still publicize it and return it.

See this article by Rabbi Neustadt who reviews the relevant halachos (he cites the original sources there). The relevant section is:

If the owner despaired of recovering his loss, the finder may keep the item. The halachah considers it as if the item has now become his, since the owner forsook ownership once he despaired of ever recovering his loss.

But this applies only if the owner despaired of recovering his loss before the item was found. If, however, the item was found before the owner realized he had lost it [and before he had a chance to give up hope of finding it], then the finder must return the item to its owner - even though the owner had subsequently despaired of recovering it.

So if someone found the item before the owner gave up hope, they are still obligated to return it.

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