An USA 1933 Double Eagle Fetches $7,590,020.

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Summary: The 1933 Double Eagle gold coin auctioned in 2002 generated over $3 million for the U.S. Treasury, marking a historic moment as the highest-ever paid for a coin at auction. Henrietta Holsman Fore, Director of the United States Mint, expressed satisfaction with the sale, emphasizing the coin’s journey from a $20 face value to a symbol of substantial value in coin collecting. The Public Enterprise Fund (PEF) will receive the proceeds, with a portion allocated to Sotheby’s and the rest, over $3 million, transferred to the U.S. Treasury through an out-of-court settlement.

Key Highlights:

  1. Record-Breaking Auction: The 1933 Double Eagle’s sale set a new record, fetching an unprecedented $7,590,020, including a 15 percent auction fee and an additional $20 for legalizing ownership.
  2. Director’s Satisfaction: Henrietta Holsman Fore, the U.S. Mint Director, expressed satisfaction, underscoring the coin’s transformation from a $20 face value to a highly valued collectible.
  3. Historical Significance: The 1933 Double Eagle, featuring designs by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, stands as the most expensive and profitable numismatic product sold by the U.S. Mint. Its survival amidst the destruction of similar coins in 1933 adds a unique historical dimension, with one coin resurfacing in 1996 and leading to the 2002 auction through an out-of-court settlement with British coin dealer Stephen Fenton.

A NEW WORLD RECORD PRICE FOR A COIN. Strong demand was putting pressure on current prices, and there is no doubt that this trend is continuing. In the past few months there have been two major auctions held in Melbourne, as well as a series of numismatic trade fairs in other areas.

These events were very well attended and many record prices were set for key rarities, generally however, there is a lack of high-grade material available to the market.

Here are just a few items that sold in the recent Melbourne auctions:

COIN GRADE 1997 2002

  • 1813 Holey Dollar (about Fine) $16,500 $32,000
  • 1813 Dump (about VF) $7,500 $20,970
  • 1930 Penny (good Fine) $10,000 $19,572
  • Adelaide Pound (about Unc) $17,500 $29,590
  • Adelaide Pound (good EF) $15,000 $27,965

This situation was no more apparent than at the combined Sotheby / Stack’s one – lot auction in New York on July 30th. The sale was of the 1933 $20 Double Eagle gold coin, unique in private hands. The auction was widely reported by media right around the world, and Barrie Winsor represented Monetarium at the sale. The coin fetched a record price of US$7.59 Million – nearly double the previous record for the sale of a coin.

The anonymous buyer made the winning bid in a fiercely contested 9-minute battle against 8 other bidders, being joined by 500 coin collectors and dealers in the auction house audience. There were an additional 534 observers following the bidding on e-Bay. The auctioneer commented that “this is an astonishing new record for a coin” – whilst Stack’s Managing Director confirmed that “he had never seen as much interest in the sale of any coin during his 30 years in the business”.

“This is the Mona Lisa of coins, It is unique. Forbidden fruit.”

Beth Deisher, editor of Coin World, the largest weekly coin publication in the United States.

“The irony of ironies is, in order to make this coin totally legal and totally monetized, the buyer will have to give, in addition to millions of dollars it costs to buy it, $20 — a $20 bill — to go back to the Treasury,” .

 David Redden, Vice Chairman of Sotheby’s, 

Hidden History of the 1933 Double Eagle: From Legal Battle to Record-Breaking Auction.

In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt abandoned the gold standard, leading to the order for the destruction of all 1933 saints that were produced, with just two exceptions set aside for the Smithsonian Institution. These coins were never granted legal currency status.

Interestingly, during the mid-1940s and 1950s, nine double eagles resurfaced, believed to have been stolen by a mint employee. They were seized by the Secret Service and melted down. Before these coins were brought to light, a unique twist occurred when the royal legation of Egypt presented one of these coins to the Treasury Department. Remarkably, they managed to obtain an official export license for the coin, enhancing King Farouk’s collection.

In 1954, following King Farouk’s deposition, his coin collection was auctioned, and the double eagle disappeared once more. It remained hidden until it resurfaced in the possession of Jay Fenton in 1995. Fenton’s arrest for attempting to sell the coin for $1.5 million sparked a legal battle revolving around the Treasury Department’s mistaken export permission in 1944, raising questions about the coin’s legality of ownership.

The double eagle narrowly escaped destruction multiple times.

It eluded potential destruction once again when it was relocated from the Treasury Department vault in 7 World Trade Center just eight months before the building’s collapse during the September 11 attacks.

Following its sale, Henrietta Holsman Fore, the director of the U.S. Mint, officially declared the coin as the sole 1933 double eagle ever legally issued by the U.S. government. This declaration effectively “monetized” the coin, granting it legal tender status. The purchaser would receive a transfer certificate confirming this status, but only after paying the auction price and a $20 fee, bringing the total sale price to $7,590,020.

This record-breaking event instilled significant confidence in the rare coin market. It is worth noting that Australia also possesses coins of comparable rarity to the U.S. piece, albeit without a $14 million price tag. Coins such as the Adelaide Assay Office ingots, the 1937 Penny, and the Adelaide Pounds qualify as exceedingly rare and yet remain undervalued. Monetarium, through its commitment to research and the extensive experience of its personnel, takes pride in sourcing rare high-grade stock and providing valuable investment diversification recommendations in these uncertain economic times.

The current global financial market volatility, encompassing stocks, bonds, and currencies, has drawn investors’ attention to collectibles markets as a safe haven for their wealth. It is evident that markets will continue to weaken, affecting pensions, superannuation plans, and life savings. Consequently, more investors are seeking diversification, resulting in increased demand for a diminishing supply of high-grade rare coins and banknotes.

Record-Breaking Auction Benefiting U.S. Treasury for over $3 million.

Henrietta Holsman Fore, the Director of the United States Mint, expressed satisfaction with the sale, highlighting the coin’s remarkable journey from a face value of $20 to its current status as a symbol of significant value in coin collecting. Once the sale concludes, the United States Mint’s Public Enterprise Fund (PEF) will receive the entire amount, distributing a portion to Sotheby’s for their services and deducting expenses related to marketing, auctioning, and safeguarding the coin. The PEF will retain over $3 million, expected to be slightly more than half of the proceeds, as part of an out-of-court settlement, transferring it to the U.S. Treasury as a miscellaneous receipt.

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2 responses to “An USA 1933 Double Eagle Fetches $7,590,020.”

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  1. Walter Lee Beckjr

    I’m curious about this – I was under the impression that all golden eagles were legally mandated to be returned to the mint and not allowed for private possession. How is it possible for him to simply put it up for auction like this?

    1. Alexandre Laurent

      The government’s uncertainty about the exact number of coins taken from the mint is an interesting point to consider. Moreover, it does make you wonder if there were truly multimillion-dollar coins out there, why haven’t they surfaced in the past ninety years? One notable case is the coin that was sold at Sotheby’s in 2002 following a complex legal dispute. In addition to the hammer price and premium, the seller had to fork over an additional $20 to “monetize” it




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