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1933 double eagle tops $18.8 million for new record

A record for any coin in auction was set on June 8 at New York City since Sotheby's sold the sole independently owned 1933 Saint-Gaudens gold 20 double eagle for $18,872,250.

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1933 double eagle tops $18.8 million for new record

The single-owner sale in New York City on June 8 was titled"Three Treasures -- Collected by Stuart Weitzman."

From the press materials for its selling Sotheby's wrote,"The world-renowned high style shoe designer had a childhood dream: to one day possess the two greatest stamp treasures in the Earth, and also the most well-known coin around the planet." The famed double edged was united by the 1856 British Guinea 1-cent magenta stamp along with a four-stamp plate block of the 1918"Inverted Jenny" 24-cent stamp, carrying large estimates of $15 million and $7 million, respectively, in a offering the auctioneer called"three treasures that are small in size but of immense significance; each historical and singular in its own manner," before concluding,"Individually each is a star, collectively they're a galaxy"

Sotheby's originally said a price of more than $19.5 million for the coin, but lowered the total after a few minutes had passed.

The 3 tons all collectively realized $32,039,250, under the high estimate of $37 million.

Graded, not slabbed
Graded Mint State 65 by Professional Coin Grading Service and with a green-level Certified Acceptance Corp. acceptance, although not holdered or stickered by the services, the handsome double eagle is described by Sotheby's as follows:"Creamy, orange-yellow surfaces with deeply frosted devices and proof-like bloom in the obverse area between the rays. The reverse displays full cartwheel effect"

Benjamin Doller, executive vice president and chairman, Americas, of Sotheby's served as the auctioneer, starting bidding at $7 million, moving fast in $500,000 increments to $10 million then moving fast in $1 million increments till $14 million on the telephone was blindsided with a $500,000 increment on the ground, before going to $15 million by a phone bidder, then to $15.5 million by a floor bidder. A bid of $16 million on the telephone was followed by a flooring bid of $16.5 million. Bidding slowed down once a bid of $16.75 million has been shot on the phone from an expert in the firm's Impressionist and contemporary department, also Doller brought down the gavel following five minutes of spirited bidding for a final price realized of $18,872,250 (originally stated as $19,509,750).

Symbols from the catalogue indicated that it was ensured property and the double eagle was subject to an irrevocable bid. The guarantee emblem means that the property had been guaranteed a minimum price (either as an individual lot or to get the group of 3 ) while an irrevocable bid means that a party has supplied Sotheby's with a bid on the lot which will be executed during the sale in a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The terms add,"The Realtors, who might bid in excess of the irrevocable bidding, will be compensated based on the final hammer price if he or she isn't the successful bidder or will get a fixed fee in the event he or she will be the successful bidder. When the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if appropriate ) for supplying the irrevocable bid might be netted from the irrevocable bidder's duty to pay the full cost for the lot as well as the buy price reported for the lot will be net of these fixed fee." The conditions of these types of pre-sale structures, which can be utilized to redistribute threat between the auctioneer, consignor and possible bidders, aren't disclosed.

The stamps and coin were displayed to a range of potential bidders in May at Sotheby's major spring Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary art auctions in which the coin was only tagged:"The 1933 Double Eagle. The only example of America's last gold coin legally sanctioned by the United States authorities for private ownership," together with the estimate of $10 million to $15 million. Wall text emphasized that the display marked the first time that these three rarities have been brought together under one roof, including, perhaps optimistically,"All these treasures is not only admired by professional collectors, but has entered the subconscious of us all -- warmly embraced by popular culture"

Sotheby's outlines the appeal of the 1933 double eagle -- which Weitzman bought in July 2002 in a Sotheby's and Stack's auction for $7,590,020 -- composing,"designed by a genius and America's last gold coin, it's been searched by the United States Secret Service, and the subject of innumerable'tribute copies,' thrillers, history books, documentaries, and primetime tv crime reveals." Weitzman had previously not been publicly named the proprietor, avoiding publicity but liberally committing it into the Federal Reserve in lower Manhattan, the New-York Historical Society, along with other places where it could be observed by the public.

Others prohibited to Have
Although U.S. Mint records indicate that 445,500 double eagles outdated 1933 were broke, the mintage was supposed to have been melted in the Mint following President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order forbidding private ownership of gold. A few -- including one that was a part of this collection of Egypt's King Farouk and granted an export license -- abandoned the Mint through legitimate or illegitimate channels. It turned up in 1996 through a sting operation led by the U.S. Secret Service.

The 2002 auction has been the result of a legal settlement, where the rediscovered coin was called the Farouk instance, and has been deemed the only example that might be legally owned by a collector. At the time two additional examples were at the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.

A 1944 report from a Secret Service investigation regarding 1933 double eagles who had appeared in the marketplace concluded that none were published legally. Since 2002, others have subsequently turned up, most notably 10 in the Langbord family (inherited from Israel"Izzy" Switt, who Sotheby's characterizes as"among their prime suspects of this 1944 Secret Service evaluation") which were the subject of over ten years of litigation, however not one of them is authorized for private ownership by the authorities and are called government land.

Sotheby's commented on Weitzman's purchase in the conclusion of the 2002 auction,"In an early moment, the Director of the United States Mint signed a Certification of Monetization that, in return for twenty five bucks, authorized the issuance of the single instance." In 2002 the government composed that Weitzman's example was"the only example the United States Government has authorized, or ever intends to authorize, for private ownership."

The 2021 Sotheby's sale has been announced on March 10 and covered in a two-page article in the New York Times the following day, previewed on the front page of the issue. Weitzman said,"No one takes a U-Haul to the cemetery," including on his paintings,"We have to determine what to do with this stuff" His children aren't interested in the collectibles and Weitzman stated,"They say,'It is great to do with them what you did, but we don't want to Need to worry about them, fuss with them, protect themfigure out what to do with them'"

Before the auction some well-heeled collectors voiced concern that the 1933 double eagle was an"artificial rarity," with Bruce Morelan writing about the PCGS Message Board at March,"Just because the government deems only one lawful to possess doesn't alter the fact that there are at least 13 [and probably more] in existence." Sotheby's had partnered with Stack's Bowers Galleries to advertise that the D. Brent Pogue set starting in 2015, though the alliance did not seem to attract widespread attention outside the coin marketplace. The sale of the 1933 double eagle for nearly $20 million seems to confirm that the strategic marketing of a great American rarity can extend past numismatics, possibly attracting new money and interest in the hobby.

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