Spanking! Rare $20 Double Eagle gold coin from 1933 and formerly owned by shoe designer Stuart Weitzman, sells at auction for record $18.9 million
- The 1933 Double Eagle gold coin was sold at auction in New York on Tuesday
- The coin was put up for sale by designer and collector Stuart Weitzman, who bought it in 2002 for what was then a record price of $7.6 million.
- It was the last gold coin to be stamped in the US, but never came into circulation
- The $20 denomination coin is the only one of its kind authorized for private ownership
- Weitzman said he would use the money he earned from the auction to fund his charitable projects
A 1933 gold Double Eagle coin — the last of its kind minted in the US and the only one approved for private ownership — has sold at auction in New York for a record $18.9 million.
Shoe designer and collector Stuart Weitzman put the coin up for sale on Tuesday, along with the world’s rarest stamp, which fetched $8.3 million, and a group of unique U.S. stamps for $2.9 million.
The unprecedented sales make the Double Eagle the most valuable coin ever to appear at auction. It was expected to go anywhere between $10 and $15 million – despite a face value of just $20.
Weitzman acquired the coin at auction in 2002 for what was then the world record price of $7.6 million. The identity of the new owner has not been disclosed.
This Rare ‘Double Eagle’ Gold Coin Sold at Auction on Tuesday for a Record $18.9 Million
The coin, with the distinctive design of an American eagle in flight on one side and Liberty advancing on the other, was never issued after President Franklin Roosevelt took the United States off the gold standard and most of the specimens were melted down.
Only a handful of the coins ever made it into the public’s hands, but in 1944 the U.S. government deemed it illegal to own one, except for the one sold Tuesday due to a unique set of circumstances.
“The 1933 Double Eagle has a compelling history spanning much of the history of the United States and has been the center of intrigue for more than 80 years,” Sotheby’s, which organized 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 fetched $8.3 million, and a group of unique US stamps for $2.9 million.
Weitzman also sold a British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp on Tuesday, issued in 1856, for $8.3 million, cementing its place as the most valuable stamp in history.
The stamp is the only one remaining from a series printed by the South American nation due to a shortage of stamps sent by the then British colonial rulers.
The designer had bought it in 2014 for $9.5 million and continued a tradition started by previous owners by adding his own embellishment – a line drawing of a needle 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 misprint where the biplane appears upside down. Sold Tuesday for $4.9 million, it is the most valuable U.S. postage 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, issued in 1918 for the first U.S. airmail letters, sold for $4.9 million. It is the most valuable postage stamp in the United States.
Last sold at auction for $2.9 million some 26 years ago, the Inverted Jenny is a collector’s item due to a misprint where the biplane design appears upside down.
Sotheby’s said the stamp block, which was sold under the estimated pre-auction, was bought by David Rubenstein, a co-founder of private equity firm The Carlyle Group.
Weitzman, who has been collecting stamps and coins since childhood, has said he will use the money from Tuesday’s sale to fund his charitable projects, including medical research, his design school and a Jewish museum in Madrid.
History of the Double Eagle gold coins withdrawn from circulation in the 1930s
The Double Eagle sold on Tuesday owes its uniqueness to the fact that it is the only coin of its kind authorized for private ownership.
When Franklin Roosevelt took the US off the gold standard, all copies of the coin were 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 considered possession of the coin illegal, but shortly before that a double eagle was exported to Egypt and came into the possession of King Farouk.
Its whereabouts were unknown until 1996, when the Secret Service confiscated it during a covert operation at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.
A five-year legal battle ensued before the government allowed this Double Eagle to be privately owned and put up for auction, with Stuart Weitzman as the first legal owner.