The battle for ten rare gold coins worth over $80 million is over. A judge ruled today that the Augustus Saint-Gaudens double eagles $20 pieces that were found by the grand children of Israel Swift rightfully belonged to the US Government.
Fox News reports that the coins were found in 2003 in a safe deposit box that belonged to coin dealer Israel Swift. Swift’s grandchildren, Joan, Roy and David Langbord took the rare coins to the U.S. Mint to have them authenticated. The government concluded that the coins were indeed Augustus Saint-Gaudens double eagles $20 pieces that were produced during the Great Depression, but also decided to seize the coins since they were most likely stolen from the government.
A jury found for the government last year and today a federal court agreed.
U.S. District Judge Legrome Davis Jr. wrote in his decision:
“The Mint meticulously tracked the ’33 Double Eagles, and the records show that no (legal) transaction occurred… 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 U.S. mint created 445,500 Augustus Saint-Gaudens double eagles during the Great Depression. But a few weeks after the coins were minted President Roosevelt ordered U.S. banks to abandon the gold standard and melt down the double eagles. Nearly all of the coins were melted down into gold bars.
One of the surviving coins was auctioned off in 2002 by King Farouk of Egypt. That coin sold for more than $7.5 million.