Even though a court had ruled that the Langbord the U.S. government return the ten 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle gold coins that Joan Langbord, the surviving daughter of jeweler Israel Switt who claims to have found them in late 2002, there is still only one legally to own 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle.
Prior to the Langbord’s discovery of her hoard, only one example was legally exported to Egypt to be included in the collection of King Farouk. This was the coin that eventually was sold in 2002 for $7,590,020 to a private collector. Half of the proceeds were paid to the government as part of a settlement with British coin dealer Stephen Fenton, who was arrested trying to sell the coin at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 1998.
The price paid for this coin was the most paid for a single coin until the sale of the 1794 silver dollar sold for $10,016,875 in January 2013. While the 1794 silver dollar had a great story, nothing compares to the sale of the coin known as the Farouk-Fenton Double Eagle.
Two books were written about the 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle that spans its history from the conditions of their beginning to the the auction sale after being removed from storage at the World Trade Center before its destruction on September 11, 2001.
This is not a coin that an ordinary collector can own. Rather than owning the coin, why not own the auction catalog from that sale?
The Southeby’s/Stack’s auction with the Farouk-Fenton 1933 Saint-Gardens Double Eagle as the only lot was held at 6:00 PM on Tuesday, July 30, 2002 at the Sotheby’s headquarters located at 1334 York Avenue in New York City. When the hammer fell, the coin was purchased for $6.6 million plus a 15-percent buyers’s premium. As part of the sale, the government required that the coin be monetized by paying the $20 face value that would have been paid by the Federal Reserve at the time.
Purchased from Kolbe & Fanning during a recent sale, the catalog is a special hardbound edition with over 50-pages about the coin, this sale, and its history. Most of the contents was written by David Tripp who was then the director of Sotheby’s coin, tapestry, and musical instrument departments. Tripp later expanded on what he wrote for the catalog and published Illegal Tender: Gold, Greed, and the Mystery of the Lost 1933 Double Eagle.
It was a beautifully produced auction catalog. Even though the catalog is a summary of Tripp’s book, it is a piece of numismatic history. And since I cannot afford the coins, I bought the book instead of the coin.