Minting it! Rare $20 Double Eagle gold coin from 1933 and previously owned by shoe designer Stuart Weitzman sells for record $18.9million at auction
- The 1933 Double Eagle gold coin sold at an auction in New York on Tuesday
- The coin was placed up for sale by designer and collector Stuart Weitzman, who bought it in 2002 for what was then a record price of $7.6million
- It was the last gold coin stamped in the US but never went into circulation
- The coin with a face value of $20 is the only one of its kind authorized for private ownership
- Weitzman said he would use the money gained in the auction to fund his charitable ventures
A 1933 Double Eagle gold coin – the last of its kind to be minted in the US and the only copy authorized for private ownership – has sold for a record-setting $18.9 million at auction in New York.
Shoe designer and collector Stuart Weitzman put the coin up for sale on Tuesday along with the world’s rarest stamp, which went for $8.3million, and a group of unique American stamps for $2.9million.
The unprecedented sale makes the Double Eagle the most valuable coin ever to appear at auction. It was expected go for anywhere between $10 and $15million – despite having a face value of just $20.
Weitzman acquired the coin at auction in 2002 for what was then the world record price of $7.6million. The identity of the new owner has not been disclosed.
This rare ‘Double Eagle’ gold coin sold for a record-setting $18.9million at auction on Tuesday
The coin with a distinctive design of an American eagle in flight one side and Liberty striding forward on the other was never issued after President Franklin Roosevelt took the United States off the gold standard and most copies were melted down.
Only a handful of the coins ever made it into the public’s hands, but in 1944 the US government deemed it illegal to be in possession of one, all except the one sold Tuesday due to a unique set of circumstances.
‘The 1933 Double Eagle has a richly captivating history which encapsulates large swathes of United States history and has been at the center of intrigue for more than 80 years,’ Sotheby’s, which hosted the auction, said in a statement.
Shoe designer Stuart Weitzman (pictured) put the coin up for sale along with the world’s rarest stamp, which went for $8.3million, and a group of unique American stamps for $2.9million
Weitzman on Tuesday also sold a British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp, issued in 1856, for $8.3million, confirming its place as the most valuable stamp in history.
The stamp is the only surviving one from a series that was printed by the South American nation because of a shortage of stamps sent over by its then British colonial rulers.
The designer had bought it in 2014 for $9.5million and continued a tradition started by previous owners by adding his own flourish – a line drawing of a stiletto shoe and his initials – to the back of the stamp.
British Guiana One-Cent Magenta is the last known stamp of its kind, and the most valuable stamp in the world
The ‘Inverted Jenny’ stamp is unique for a printing error in which the biplane appears upside down. Sold on Tuesday for $4.9 million it is the most valuable US stamp
The buyers of the two items wished to remain anonymous, Sotheby’s said.
In addition, a plate block of the 24 cent Inverted Jenny stamp, which was issued in 1918 for the first US air mail letters, sold for $4.9million. It is the most valuable US stamp.
The Inverted Jenny, which was last sold at auction some 26 years ago for $2.9million, is a collector’s item because of a printing error in which its biplane design appears upside down.
Sotheby’s said the stamp block, which sold below its pre-auction estimate, was bought by David Rubenstein, a co-founder of private equity company The Carlyle Group.
Weitzman, who has been collecting stamps and coins since boyhood, has said he will use the money from Tuesday’s sale to fund his charitable ventures including medical research, his design school, and a Jewish museum in Madrid.
History of the Double Eagle gold coins that were taken out of circulation in the 30s
The Double Eagle sold on Tuesday owes its uniqueness to being the only coin of its type authorized for private ownership.
When Franklin Roosevelt took the US off the gold standard, all copies of the coin were ordered destroyed except two, which were sent to the Smithsonian.
In 1944, after it was discovered that several had entered the private market, the Secret Service deemed ownership of the coin illegal, but shortly before that, one Double Eagle was exported to Egypt and came under the ownership of King Farouk.
Its whereabouts were unknown until 1996, when the Secret Service seized it in a sting operation at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.
A five-year legal battle ensued before the government permitted this one Double Eagle to be privately owned, and it was auctioned off, with Stuart Weitzman as its first legal owner.