In a spectacular auction event that sent shockwaves through the world of numismatics and beyond, fashion icon Stuart Weitzman’s 1933 Double Eagle gold coin achieved an astonishing feat, shattering auction records to become the world’s most valuable coin ever sold. Sotheby’s New York was the stage for this historic sale, which took place on a Tuesday morning that will be forever etched in the annals of coin collecting.
The 1933 Double Eagle gold coin, a remarkable rarity that stands alone in the realm of private ownership, found its new custodian for a breathtaking sum of US$18.9 million. This exceptional price nearly doubled the previous world record, an achievement that left even the seasoned experts at Sotheby’s astounded. The sale unfolded amidst a thrilling three-and-a-half-minute bidding war, with three determined bidders in the saleroom at Sotheby’s York Avenue headquarters and another participating via telephone. The identity of the coin’s new owner remains confidential, adding an extra layer of intrigue to the historic event.
Before this momentous sale, the previous record for the most expensive coin was set in 2013 when a 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar fetched US$10 million at Stack’s Bowers in New York. Sotheby’s had estimated the 1933 Double Eagle’s value to be between US$10 million and US$15 million, making its final selling price an even more impressive achievement. Stuart Weitzman, renowned for his eponymous line of shoes, originally acquired this iconic coin at Sotheby’s New York in 2002 for a then-record-breaking sum of US$7.59 million. This particular auction was conducted on behalf of the U.S. government, as the coin had a storied history, having once been the property of King Farouk of Egypt before being seized in a secret service sting operation in New York City. Notably, it was the first and only time the 1933 Double Eagle coin entered private ownership, making its auction debut a historic occasion.
The 1933 Double Eagle coin, with a face value of US$20, holds the distinction of being the last gold coin produced for intended circulation. One side features an American eagle in flight, while the other depicts Liberty striding forward. The coin’s unique status can be traced back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the gold standard as part of efforts to address the challenges posed by the Great Depression. Consequently, the coin was never officially issued for circulation, with most of its counterparts being destroyed and declared illegal to own. In a twist of fate, this particular coin survived.
In addition to the record-breaking sale of the 1933 Double Eagle gold coin, two other remarkable items from Stuart Weitzman’s collection achieved significant results at the same auction. The legendary British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp, the sole-surviving example, was sold for an astounding US$8.3 million, reaffirming its position as the world’s most valuable stamp. The Inverted Jenny Plate Block American stamp also surpassed its previous record, fetching a noteworthy US$4.9 million. The stamp’s new owner is none other than billionaire David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-executive chairman of the private equity firm, The Carlyle Group.
In sum, the “Three Treasures” from Stuart Weitzman’s collection, including the 1933 Double Eagle, raised an astonishing total of US$32 million. These proceeds will be directed toward charitable ventures, including The Weitzman Family Foundation, which has a long history of supporting medical research and higher education. Additionally, the funds will contribute to the establishment of a new museum in Madrid devoted to Spanish-Judeo history. Stuart Weitzman, reflecting on the momentous sale, expressed his joy at fulfilling a lifelong dream of assembling these remarkable pieces in a single collection. He emphasized that the sale’s proceeds will support a range of charitable causes and educational endeavors close to his heart, marking a fitting end to this historic chapter in numismatic history.
CURSE of the DOUBLE EAGLE 1933