Judge Rules Rare Coins Worth $80 Million Belongs to the Government and Not to Family Claiming Them — Dollars and Sense
The United States government has officially railroaded a Philadelphia family that literally struck gold, after a judge found that the 10 rare gold coins worth $80 million they discovered almost a decade ago did not belong to them, but to Uncle Sam, instead.
The coins in question are 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle productions that were initially released with a value of $20, but some sources say that just one of these scarce beauties brought as much as $7.5 million at a Sotheby’s auction back in 2002.
The majority of the 445,500 double eagle coins manufactured by the Philadelphia mint were melted down and made into gold bars shortly after the United States went off the gold standard.
It is suspected that a cashier for the mint confiscated some of the coins in 1933 and hocked them off to a local coin dealer by the name of Israel Switt just before the meltdown process.
Seventy years later, a few members of Switt’s family cracked open one of his old safety deposit boxes and unearthed 10 gold coins.
After the family turned the coins over to the Philadelphia mint for authentication purposes, the government stepped in and took ownership of their discovery.
Incidentally, the family sued the United States Treasury, claiming that the coins were their personal property, but in 2011, a jury deliberated and found the coins were in fact property of the government, so the family appealed.
That appeal was overturned last week by Judge Legrome Davis of the eastern District Court of Pennsylvania, who said, "the coins in question were not lawfully removed from the United States Mint."
The family's attorney says that this case raises many questions about the government’s power to confiscate property.