How often has a mistake made you millions of dollars? Coins with errors or those that are themselves errors can be worth a truckload of money, not to mention that finding one can be easier than winning the lottery. However, there is one coin out there whose value has surprised everyone.
The original coin
Serious collectors may have already guessed which coin we’re talking about: the one and only 1933 Double Eagle.
Just so you know, there is actually no double eagle on the coin. It is called that because it had double the value of the other coins with an eagle on them, according to the Washington Post. The original coin was $10, but the double eagle was worth $20.
That $20 gold coin last sold at an auction for over $18 million! Not a bad investment, eh?
What went wrong?
The thing is, this coin is not even supposed to exist. The US Mint originally churned out almost half a million coins, just as gold coins were being declared “no longer legal tender.” The pieces never went into circulation. In fact, none of them even left the building, or so people thought.
All but two were meant to be destroyed, and the two spared coins reside at the Smithsonian. However, it turns out that before all the coins were melted down, some were stolen. It was thought that 20 1933 Double Eagles were taken, but the number may be as high as 40.
After the government realized there were coins missing, the Secret Service launched an investigation that took a year but led to the recovery of only seven pieces. Believe it or not, the agency is still searching for the coins, and as recently as 2005, it recovered another 10 coins in sting operations.
Mysterious and famous owners
There is one known remaining 1933 Double Eagle coin that is legally privately owned, and it has an interesting and somewhat shady history. Investigators figure it was sold to a private collector shortly after its theft, and the buyer quickly left the country. The 1933 Double Eagle was then thought to be owned by King Farouk of Egypt.
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The coin was kept in secrecy for many years before it resurfaced in 1996, when British coin dealer Stephen Fenton was arrested in another sting operation for possessing it. He made a deal with the US government, and the coin was sold at auction in 2001 to an anonymous bidder for over $6 million.
The buyer remained anonymous until 2021, when he decided to sell the coin. He turned out to be famous luxury footwear designer Stuart Weitzman, whose clients include the likes of Beyonce and Taylor Swift. Aside from collecting rare coins, Weitzman is also an avid stamp collector.
He recently sold his 1933 Double Eagle for over $18 million to another anonymous buyer and also pocketed nearly $5 million for a set of four stamps called the “Inverted Jenny.”
Still think coin collecting is boring? How’s this for exciting—in 2006, a gentleman with a metal detector in England found a 1343 Edward III Florin, one of only three in the world, and auctioned it off for $850,000!