Judge Tells Family Too Bad, So Sad: Your $80M In Rare Coins Belong To The Government

In yet another example of why it’s kind of crappy to be a grownup, the rule of “finders, keepers” doesn’t work beyond the playground’s boundaries. A federal judge ruled recently that 10 rare gold coins valued at about $80 million that had disappeared from the Philadelphia Mint decades ago belong to the U.S. government, and not a family that found them in a safety deposit box. Bummer.

Courthouse News says the 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle is like the be-all end-all for awesome coins. They were originally valued at $20, but one recently sold for more than $7.5 million at auction. There were 445,500 double eagles struck during the Great Depression, but the Philadelphia mint took them back weeks after they were in circulation when U.S. banks abandoned the gold standard. Most were melted into gold bars, and the Smithsonian was of the view that there were only two left.

But it turns out a sneaky cashier at the Philadelphia Mint managed to smuggle some out to a local coin dealer. In 2003 that dealer’s grandkids drilled open a safety deposit box and found the 10 valuable coins wrapped in tissue paper. The family did what anyone would likely do in that situation — they handed them over to the Mint for authentication. Instead, the government took them and said “Gee, thanks for finding our valuable coins, we’ve got it from here,” without handing over a dime in compensation.

Since then the family has been battling the courts, saying that it wasn’t their fault the coins were taken from the Mint and besides, it could’ve been during a legitimate transaction. They tried to prove as such, but jurors sided with the government.

“The Mint meticulously tracked the ’33 Double Eagles, and the records show that no such transaction occurred,” the judge wrote. “What’s more, this absence of a paper trail speaks to criminal intent. If whoever took or exchanged the coins thought he was doing no wrong, we would expect to see some sort of documentation reflecting the transaction, especially considering how carefully and methodically the Mint accounted for the ’33 Double Eagles. The jury saw no record of a legitimate ’33 Double Eagle release, and from this lack of documentation one may reasonably infer that the responsible party appropriated the coins in secret, knowing full well the wrongfulness and illegality of his actions.”

If there was ever a time to shake a fist in frustration at an ancestor, now would probably be the time.

Unearthed Gold Coins Belong to Uncle Sam [Courthouse News]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Marlin says:

    I know this is a civil case but I thought it would be you have to prove they are illegal, not make the other party prove they are not?

    What’s that, you lost the title to “your” old car and the gov says its their car. YOU LOSE!

    • MaxH42 needs an edit button says:

      More like “you have a Government-issued car that you claim you now own, but there is no record of any payment or transaction for the car, and the Government records show that they never sold any of those cars.”

      • Marlin says:

        Gov records are lost all the time, I work for the Fed Gov. That and there are legal ones if they are still selling and the Gov has not tried to claim…
        “but one recently sold for more than $7.5 million at auction.”

        How about If your dad died and left you 10k. The Gov comes in and takes it and says “prove your dad did not steal this money…”. Would that be ok as well?

        • nishioka says:

          > How about If your dad died and left you 10k. The Gov comes in and takes it and says “prove your dad did not steal this money…”. Would that be ok as well?

          Depends, did he leave behind 10k in currency that only lasted a few weeks and was based on a standard that the US doesn’t adhere to anymore, or 10k in currency that it’s actually likely people have laying around?

          • Marlin says:

            Older people have saved, esp those from the Depression time, money and kept it out of banks. Many of these notes would be silver or gold notes.

            So yes the money could be older style that is not very common.

        • FredKlein says:

          Read up on Asset forfeiture. It’s perfectly legal for the cops to stop you and take your money.

          http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/forfeiture :
          “”Administrative forfeiture is the process by which property may be forfeited to the United States without judicial involvement. Federal seizing agencies perform administrative forfeitures. Seizures must be based on probable cause. The authority for a seizing agency to start an administrative forfeiture action is found in 19 U.S.C. § 1607.

          “Administrative forfeiture can be used to seize and forfeit the following:
          • any amount of currency;
          • personal property valued at $500,000 or less, including cars, guns, and boats;
          • hauling conveyances of unlimited value.”

          http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2010/02/take_the_money_and_run.html :

          Smelley was pulled over for making an unsafe lane change and driving with an obscured license plate. He was also driving with an expired driver’s license. His traffic stop should have ended with citations for those infractions. Instead, the police officer asked Smelley to get out of the car and patted him down, finding the cash. The officer then called in a K-9 unit for a sniff search of Smelley’s car for drugs. The dog alerted twice. Smelley and two passengers were arrested, and the police seized Smelley’s money.

          A subsequent hand search of Smelley’s car turned up no illicit drugs, and no criminal charges were ever filed against Smelley or his passengers. Smelley produced a letter from a Detroit law firm confirming he had been awarded the $50,000 from the accident. That didn’t matter. Putnam County has since held Smelley’s money for more than a year.”

        • Kate Blue says:

          You don’t get to keep stolen goods – even if they were stolen from the government.

          I thought everyone knew that.

          • cspschofield says:

            But the government does get to keep goods stolen from you, in most cases. Which is why nobody with the sense of an inbred spaniel trusts the government.

    • Badger Tale says:

      I don’t get you, MaxH42. The defendants defended their innocence and lost. They were presumed innocent until they were judged by the people to be so ignorant to plead ignorance. The coins belonged to the People and were proven to be the Peoples. Seems to me that the People, i.e., the government, won back their property.

      • Cerne says:

        I’m not disagreeing with you, but I find it terrifying that you believe that the People and the government are really the same thing.

  2. bnceo says:

    What incentive does the government have to take the coins back? Seems like a pure dick move.

    • Stickdude says:

      Trust me – they need the money.

      • PBallRaven says:

        For them, the value is only what the coins weigh in gold. Certainly not 80 million.

        • Stickdude says:

          But if they could get the $80 million for the coins, it could fund the federal government for an entire 12 minutes.

          • dcarrington01 says:

            OR good for one GAO party/award ceremony….

          • Blueskylaw says:

            The federal deficit is growing at a rate of $3 million every second. That
            equals 26.66 seconds of defecit spending. Hardly anything to brag about.

          • st225 says:

            That may be the irony. If the people sold the coins and paid capital gains taxes, the government would get MORE money. Or so I think.

        • mcgyver210 says:

          If you believe they will be melted down you also believe the Federal Government is trust-able & everyone knows the Federal Government has become a Legalized Criminal Enterprise more Corrupt than any other entity.

          The coins will end up being split between other higher ups in the Government.

    • RedOryx says:

      Why is it a dick move to want back what was stolen from you? The fact that it’s the US Government doesn’t negate that fact.

      • Velvet Jones says:

        Exactly. While I generally hate the Feds, their involvement is irrelevant. It’s a stolen property case. Look at what has happened in Europe since the war. There are still cases pending of property looted by the Nazis ending up in private collections. The original owners DO want it back. Even China has sued the UK over treasures taken during the 19th century.

      • Applekid says:

        So where were they when that other coin sold for $7.5M? And the transactions for the other other coins? Why should these folks have the stolen property confiscated and no one else’s?

        My paranoid answer? Because the rich are allowed to do rich people things like pay $7.5M for a collectable coin, but they don’t want these poor people to come into riches and spoil the party at the country club.

        • RedOryx says:

          Actually, in looking up more online, the Secret Service did attempt to confiscate the $7.5 million coin right before the auction, but failed. It is the only known 1933 Double Eagle Coin to be allowed in a private collection (it belonged to an Egyptian King at one time). All other coins are considered property of the US Government.

      • FredKlein says:

        There is no proof they were stolen. The coins were in circulation for at least a while, so they could easily have been gotten legitimately. They fact that there are no records is ludicrous- do you have a record for every single dollar bill in your wallet??

        • legotech says:

          They were never in circulation is the whole point. They weren’t “Taken back” as the consumerist article states, they were never released to begin with. The coins were segregated into a separate vault and stolen by the clerk who sold them to the coin dealer.

          • FredKlein says:

            The original article says they government “pulled them back weeks later”. Is that article wrong, as well?

            The article says “The Mint meticulously tracked the ’33 Double Eagles”- funny, there’s no need to “track” them if they are sitting in a vault, is there? Same with “the records show that no such transaction occurred”- if there were no transactions at all, then why is there a question of whether a specific transaction record exists?

            Wikipedia says: “According to numismatic historian Roger Burdette, the first 1933 double eagles were struck on March 2, 1933.[49] On March 15, 1933, 25,000 new double eagles were delivered to Mint Cashier Harry Powell, and by longstanding Mint custom, were available for paying out.”
            “Prominent coin dealer and numismatic writer Q. David Bowers suggests that despite the ban on paying out gold, examples of the 1933 double eagle could have been obtained legally from Mint Cashier Powell in an exchange for earlier double eagles.”

            “were available for paying out”
            “could have been obtained legally”

            Something’s fishy here.

    • Costner says:

      It is effectively recovery of stolen property. Why reward the grandchildren of a thief?

    • bluline says:

      Because the coins belonged to the government in the first place. It says right in the article that several coins were stolen and that the thief was the grandfather of the people who found the coins in the safe deposit box. This isn’t a finder’s-keeper’s issue. It’s a stolen property issue.

      If you’d had something valuable stolen from you, you’d want it back, no matter how much time had passed, right?

      • Auron says:

        Using that logic, anyone from the Treasury Dept or Secret Service could show up at your door and demand that you turn over any cash/coins you have on hand, because technically, anything printed/struck by the US Treasury Dept could be considered gov’t property.

        • RedOryx says:

          Except these coins were never put into circulation.

          • FredKlein says:

            “The Philadelphia Mint struck 445,500 double eagles at the height of the Great Depression, but it pulled them back weeks later as President Theodore Roosevelt ordered U.S. banks to abandon the gold standard.”

            If they weren’t in circulation, they wouldn’t have been “pulled back”.

            • RedOryx says:

              Double Eagles were minted for several years, but ceased production when the gold standard was abandoned. The 1933 Double Eagles — which is what we are talking about — were never circulated.

              • FredKlein says:

                Incorrect, see my post above.

                • Lady Anaesthesia says:

                  And not all currency printed, stamped, and struck is put into Circulation, or gets the chance to be put into circulation. The fact that there is apparently no Transaction Trail means that it may be safe to assume that those specific 10 coins never made it out of the mint until they were stolen and passed on to the Dealer. So it doesn’t matter if the Coin Type was used in Circulation, just that there is no evidence that those 10 ever were in circulation.

    • legotech says:

      The coins were stolen from the mint by an employee who sold them out the back door to a coin dealer. They were always the property of the US govt and were NEVER legitimately in the hands of the public. There are two that were sent to the Smithsonian as a matter of course and those remained there even after the coins were demonitized. There is one of these coins that ended up in Saudi Arabia in the collection of a Sheik and that’s the one that returned to this country and then auctioned. At the end of the auction, not only did the bidder have to pay the 7+ million he bid, he also had to pay $20 to have the coin “remonitized” and get a certificate that allows him to keep the coin.

      There are a couple of really good books written about these coins, quite interesting history.

  3. MrEvil says:

    I don’t understand why these people are butt-hurt over it. It has NEVER been ok to keep stolen property even if it was stolen from “DA EBIL GUBMINT!”

    • RedOryx says:

      Yes. Stolen property is stolen property.

    • Murph1908 says:

      I completely agree.

      But I wouldn’t let 80M go without a fight, just because the gubmint told me to. They would have to prove it in court that they were stolen.

      I wouldn’t have gone the ‘not my fault’ line that the Consumerist story states was one of their arguments. But I would certainly say that lack of evidence that they were stolen isn’t evidence that they were.

      • Murph1908 says:

        *lack of evidence that they WEREN’T stolen

        • DrLumen says:

          It’s one of those foot-on-the-other-shoe kinda thing. Since the family was suing the government it was up to the family to prove they were legit and the gov’t was wrong. They failed to do that as they had no receipts of the original transaction.

          I think the family should get a finders fee though. They weren’t directly responsible for the original theft and ‘technically’ did return them

  4. Mr_Magoo says:

    Moral of the story – if you find 10 valuable gold coins, say you found two, and then provide ONE of them for authentication.

  5. Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

    So…okay. If the mint had kept the coins at the fact, they’d have melted them and gotten the value of the gold as it was in 1933. Now they can sell them for $80M because they allege there was criminal intent.

    I’m just a little confused. They wouldn’t exist as rare coins at all if it weren’t for whoever took them back then (legally or otherwise). So why does the government get to keep $80M that they were about to melt away for $20 of scrap gold back in 1933?

    • sn1per420 says:

      They’re not taking $80M. They’re taking back the coins themselves, which have an estimated value of $80M on the black market.

      • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

        I’m guessing that’s not a realistic estimate, either. You can’t just multiply the $7.5 million by 10. If the supply of available coins went from 2 to 12, this would drive the price down. Sure, they could milk it a bit by selling one at a time, over a long period of time, but investors know that at some point, there are going to be 12 of the coins on the market.

      • AEN says:

        Since the govt melted down the coins, the $80 million value has melted away with them.

    • JollySith says:

      So if I stole your pearls today and they are worth $500.00. I hide them is a safe deposit box for 80 years. During that time period oysters die out completely due to pollutionor whatever. Now the pearls are worth $5 million. Your granddaughter discovers my theft and locates your pearls. Should I only have to return $500.00 to your family or should I have to return the pearls.

      • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

        On the topic of a stolen asset appreciating and then being returned, I’m currently reading a book called The Lost Van Gogh (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00846X0D6/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00846X0D6&linkCode=as2&tag=thecasobs-20). The basic idea is that a Van Gogh stolen by the Nazis is recovered and returned to the heir of the owner. At this point (not done with the book yet), none of the characters have given any consideration to tax implications (painting is worth $50 million). Honestly, I’m not even sure how this would be handled … but had the painting remained in the family the entire time, it would have triggered hefty estate taxes. Certainly a theft and return doesn’t circumvent the estate tax liability?

        The book is a decent read, although the authors does tend to dwell on some topics longer than I’d like.

        • Jane_Gage says:

          The statute of limitations on art theft is seven years, so while you may have to shoulder the tax burden, it would be mitigated by the fact you can enrich yourself by retaining the asset, at least in the U.S.

          • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

            In the book, it was retained to the rightful heir, so it ended up in the same place as if it hadn’t been stolen and had been passed generation to generation.

            My question is whether it’s a zero-base asset for the heir (subject to capital gains on the entire amount when sold) or whether it needs to be placed retroactively in the estates that it would have passed through if it hadn’t been stolen, triggering estate taxes on those estates (but setting basis at the value at the time of the last death). In this book, one of the estates would have been subject to US estate tax laws.

            It’s probably the former, but the latter would create more tax revenue … and thus a loophole. People could have assets “stolen” from them before they died and then returned to the heir a few years later – potentially saving a ton in taxes. For example, art (collectibles) has a top cap gain rate of 28%, compared to a 35% top estate tax rate.

            On a $50 million painting, that’s a pretty big difference.

      • Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

        It’s not quite the same thing. It’s more like if I had a car in 1933 that was being recalled, and on my way to trade it in, you took it. 80 years later it’s a classic and incredibly valuable because it was recalled and only a few survived. Why should I be entitled to the entire amount it could be sold for now? If it weren’t for you taking it, it would have been scrapped 80 years ago and worth nothing now.

  6. mypcrepairguy says:

    I wonder what the statute of limitations for something like this would be, and if in this case it applies.

    • Marlin says:

      Seeing the the granfather, and I guess the sneaky cashier, is dead don’t think they are going to take anyone to jail.
      The coins are still “stolen” goods by the Mints accounting so the rights of property have no limitations in that regard.

    • Costner says:

      Generally statutes of limitations only begin when the crime is initially discovered. Thus if the Mint never knew of the coins until the Grandchildren sent them in, the timeline would start at that moment and this would easily be within the timeframe required.

      I can’t really be sympathetic to the grandchildren of a thief. They are in no worse position than they were before they drilled the lock – too bad – so sad. Next time they will know not to authenticate and to just sell to a wealthy collector directly.

      • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

        Sounds like the grandfather was a deal who bought from the cashier. The grandfather was not the thief. (Did he know the cashier stole the coins? Good question.)

        • legotech says:

          Yes. It was quite well known at the time that the coins were demonitized and would not see the light of day. Which is why they were bought out the back door rather than across the front counter.

    • Guppy06 says:

      Whether or not a thief could still be prosecuted in a criminal proceeding for the theft does not affect whether or not the victim can still assert ownership of the stolen property in a civil proceeding.

    • bluline says:

      I don’t think there is a statute of limitations on recovering stolen property. If something valuable was stolen from you 50 years ago, you’d still want it back, and you’d be entitled to it.

  7. deathbecomesme says:

    “Na na na boo boo. Stick your head in doo doo.” With the DA header on the paper across the top.

  8. Hoss says:

    The Judge wants them to prove innocence? What laws is he reading?

    • Guppy06 says:

      The part that says this was a civil trial,not criminal. The “preponderance of evidence” clearly indicated the coins were still government property.

      There’s no need for due process to protect their “life, liberty or property” when it’s not their property to begin with.

      • Hoss says:

        The judge is ignoring what you said when he says the lack of documentation “speaks of criminal intent”. He’s making assumptions all over the place, not establishing that there was ever a crime.

        • Guppy06 says:

          The ruling is not a conviction. Nobody is going to jail or being fined. The family lost nothing that was actually theirs (beyond legal fees).

          Civil. trial.

          • Hoss says:

            Judge: “illegality of his actions”

            • Guppy06 says:

              While you’re off being an “internet lawyer,” you can go research the specific phrases I put in quotes above. I’ll wait.

              And for extra credit, you can explain to the class why OJ never went to jail and can even still vote in spite of losing his famous civil trial.

              • euph_22 says:

                OJ did go to jail, just not for the civil trial. He was arrested for that weird kidnapping/robbery thing in Vegas.

            • wade says:

              Judge: “one may reasonably infer. . .illegality of his actions.”


              Internet lawyer FAIL

  9. Hoss says:

    My economics might not be perfect, but if there is two of something and the market values each at $8MM — ten more doesn’t get those ten to be valued at $80MM. The value is more likely $1MM+/- each now that the rarity is diminished so greatly.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      That is what I was thinking, although I’m not sure the impact is quite as substantial as you calculated. The legitimate coin owners would be greatly harmed if these new coins were sold and not melted down.

      • JollySith says:

        That falls into risk that they buyer must assume. If you know that 445,500 were made then there is always a chance that more will turn up. you assume that risk when you accept the (false) increase in value due to the assumed rarity.

  10. Frankzzz says:

    Stolen property is still stolen property, doesn’t matter how much time has passed or how many hands it has passed thru.
    Nor does the original owner owe anything whatsoever to the “finders” who are trying to claim ownership “just because”.

  11. CRiley65 says:

    If it IS true that the man (Name: Isreal Switt) stole them from the government, then I say that the government should get them back. However, I think the burden of proof should be on the government to prove they were actually stolen. Remember the old mantra: “Absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence.” Or, as the government likes to think, “Guilty until proven innocent.”

    • NeverLetMeDown2 says:

      If this were a criminal trial, where the grandchildren were being charged with receiving stolen property, then you’d be right. It was a civil trial, however, where the preponderance of the evidence prevails.

    • legotech says:

      The evidence is quite easy to provide as these coins were never ever sold to or released to the public. They were demonitized before they were released and they were segregated into a separate vault where the clerk had access. He entered the vault, took the coins and sold them out the back door to a coin dealer. The Secret Service has been tracking these coins for decades and there is NO question that they were stolen.

  12. eezy-peezy says:

    ya can’t fix dumb….

  13. MaxTorque says:

    The 1933 Double Eagle was never monetized. NONE of them were officially released to the public, though I understand there is one in the Smithsonian. The only possible way those coins could have left the US Mint was via theft, and stolen property still belongs to the true owner.

    There is ONE legal 1933 Double Eagle in existence, and it started out as a stolen coin as well. However, it was purchased by Egypt’s coin-crazy King Farouk and mistakenly cleared for export by the State Department. When the coin surfaced years later and the Secret Service seized it, its then-owner argued that when it was cleared for export, the USA had forfeited its claim to the coin. The judge basically called it a draw, and allowed the government to hold the coin until it was auctioned off, splitting the proceeds fifty-fifty with the owner. All other 33 DEs are stolen property.

    • FredKlein says:

      he 1933 Double Eagle was never monetized. NONE of them were officially released to the public,

      “The Philadelphia Mint struck 445,500 double eagles at the height of the Great Depression, but it pulled them back weeks later as President Theodore Roosevelt ordered U.S. banks to abandon the gold standard.”

      How could they “pull them back” [presumably from circulation] if they were never circulated??

      • legotech says:

        Wait, you are trusting in the Consumerist article to be 100% correct? Yeah, umm, no. They were NEVER released to the public.

        • FredKlein says:


          “According to numismatic historian Roger Burdette, the first 1933 double eagles were struck on March 2, 1933. On March 15, 1933, 25,000 new double eagles were delivered to Mint Cashier Harry Powell, and by longstanding Mint custom, were available for paying out.

          “Prominent coin dealer and numismatic writer Q. David Bowers suggests that despite the ban on paying out gold, examples of the 1933 double eagle could have been obtained legally from Mint Cashier Powell in an exchange for earlier double eagles.”

          Oh, and I guess it’s not illegal when the Secretary of the Treasury does it: “Bowers also notes that Secretary of the Treasury William Woodin was a numismatist who in addition to collecting coins, had written books on the subject. Dealer William Nagy later recalled visiting Secretary Woodin and being shown five 1933 double eagles, with the secretary stating that he had several more.”

          Or don’t you trust the sources Wikipedia cites, either?

          • legotech says:

            Yeah, because Wikipedia has the same fact checkers as Consumerist. I trust the sources *I’ve* read and researched. They were never made available for circulation because it was no longer legal to use gold as cash. They may have made it as far as the front of house, but were never physically supposed to be in anyone’s cash drawer which is why they were segregated. And it IS illegal when the Sec Tres does it, but like all politicians, who is going to call him on it? Entering high level politics is a guarantee of being able to get away with whatever you want to do.

          • euph_22 says:

            Yes, somebody in that 3 week period could have exchanged older double eagles for 1933’s. However nobody did. The mint has no Records of anybody exchanging their coins, and the cashiers daily reports show the same.

      • kobresia says:

        They were waiting at major banks, pending monetization so they could be released into circulation, but were recalled before that actually happened.

  14. Byte says:

    The real theft is the government confiscating the gold coins in the first place in 1933.

  15. ovalseven says:

    Didn’t I just see somthing like this in an episode of The Closer?

  16. mcgyver210 says:

    Lesson learned by this Family should be.

    Never Ever Trust the Government with anything. The current Government is not what the Founding Fathers intended but is really more along the lines of a Dictatorship with Communistic tendencies.

  17. Azagthoth says:

    “this absence of a paper trail speaks to criminal intent”

    That there is some real sound logic.


    • RedOryx says:

      That’s how it works in the art world with provenance.

    • euph_22 says:

      Yes, it is fine logic there. If you are talking about something that was presumably never released to the public and found in a late coin dealers attic. The defendants inability to show any legal evidence they actually owned the coin its pretty compelling (recall this is a civil trial, if it were criminal the feds would need more evidence).

      Besides, the jury thought the logic was fine.

  18. Thnaggle Tooph says:

    I’m no historian but didn’t Germany recently order that Nazi looted art and valuables be returned to the Jewish families they were taken from? I guess if it’s yours you want it back.

  19. Budala says:

    The coin dealer keeping them without any documentation in a safety deposit box that was drilled open does scream like there is something definitely fishy going on.

    I do agree that when you are fighting the government in court you are guilty until you can prove yourself to be innocent.

  20. portwineboy says:

    I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t believe anything written on Courthouse News after this little gem.

    “…but it pulled them back weeks later as President Theodore Roosevelt ordered U.S. banks to abandon the gold standard.”

    Uh, Teddy Roosevelt had nothing to do with the 1933 double eagle or the gold standard. In fact, he was dead for 14 years at that time.

  21. FredKlein says:

    “The jury saw no record of a legitimate ’33 Double Eagle release,”


    “There were 445,500 double eagles struck during the Great Depression, but the Philadelphia mint took them back weeks after they were in circulation when U.S. banks abandoned the gold standard.”

    They were in circulation for “weeks”.

  22. Danno23 says:

    I dunno. If you returned something to me that your grandfather stole from my grandfather that long ago (or bought from the guy that stole it) that is worth $80M today, I would at least give you a 10% finders fee and be happy with the remainder. Very, very happy.

  23. Mark says:

    Which fine outstanding citizen that is part of our government gets to hang on to the coins in question.

  24. ancientone567 says:

    You can’t deal in stolen property. Period. Oh ya and if you have something your not supposed to have then keep it a secret.

  25. backbite says:

    There are several facts in the ongoing details of the court case that are being overlooked – The mint does not have accurate records from the 1933~ period to determine what if anything was missing at the time – how can they prove theft if they cant prove their books?

    2 – There are questions if the gov waited too long in acting/confiscating past legal boundaries for such.

    There is a possibility that the coins were stolen. The gov was not able to prove this 100% but still won – creates an interesting legal challenge for the gov to confiscate property without fully proving theft/posession.

  26. Derek Balling says:

    How do you “meticulously track” a currency with no uniquely identifying mark like a serial number?

    And if they were “meticulously tracking” them from the get-go, how on earth did a bunch get out into the wild in the first place?

    • MaxTorque says:

      Israel Switt got them from a Mint official named George McCann, a business associate and good friend. McCann had sole control of the 33 DEs before they were melted down and could have easily smuggled out the coins at any time.

      The “tracking” had more to do with knowing exactly how many coins were minted and, therefore, how many were to be destroyed. Therein lays the answer to “why does the government care so much about one stupid coin”: at the time this scandal was first uncovered, there was a war looming, and missing coinage meant security holes in the Treasury system that needed plugging. So, they really went all-out to find and recover every missing coin.

  27. hexx says:

    It’s sad the family wasted a lot of time and money to be told by a judge what everyone of us should already know: stolen property doesn’t belong to you, even if you weren’t the person who stole it.

  28. jaytee says:

    This is a just punishment for an idiot family who trusted the government. I have zero sympathy for people who trust the government, none. They are stupid and get exactly what they deserve. Hopefully now they will be anti-government like smart people are.

  29. Kisses4Katie says:

    What if someone just never returned their’s or spent them? Isn’t it feasible that someone somewhere might have kept a coin they were supposed to ‘turn in’? I know that it states that is not the case here, especially with the estimate of how many they should have left, but I just can’t see it feasible that all the coins would be returned any time the mint called.
    Give the family some reward money or something at least.

  30. soj4life says:

    The government presented the case as it was, the coins were taken from the mint. Along with that, the family should not have reveled the coins existence because of the legal problems their grandfather had because of other 33 double eagles.

  31. cbuhl79 says:

    These people are upset because they’re not allowed to keep stolen property?


  32. FichenDich says:

    The only question remaining is will the coins reach the smelter before the appeal is adjudicated ?

  33. Dirk Daring says:

    So one double eagle was sold at auction: “Redden opened the bidding at $2.5 million. Six minutes later his hammer went down: An anonymous buyer had purchased the 1933 Double Eagle for $6.6 million (a 15 percent buyer’s premium brought the price to $7.59 million). It was nearly twice as much as anyone had ever paid for a coin.”

    But the exact same double eagles – coming from the exact same place – can’t be auctioned off and are property of the Govt.

    • euph_22 says:


      That one coin was mistakenly given an export certificate years ago, which meant the government effectively gave up their claim on that coin (although they did attempt to reclaim the coin when it was put on auction). The Government never gave up their ownership of these coins.

  34. sonotamused says:

    The coins were in possession on the Mint. The teller *stole* them. At no point were they in legal possession of the family. And no, the government is not obligated to give a finders fee. Its stolen property.

  35. dush says:

    More proof the government owns the money. We merely rent it.

  36. canchita says:

    I don’t understand why anyone is still banking at Chase.

  37. july18 says:

    ‘it turns out a sneaky cashier at the Philadelphia Mint managed to smuggle some out to a local coin dealer’ … hmm, my boss would call it employee theft.