By CoinWeek Staff Reports …..
On Tuesday, June 8, Sotheby’s set an auction record for a rare coin that would have been inconceivable even days ago, achieving $18.9 million USD for the only legal-to-own 1933 double eagle Saint-Gaudens $20 gold coin.
The coin, the highlight of fashion shoe designer Stuart Weitzman’s “Three Treasures”, brought spirited bidding from four bidders (three in the room and one on the telephone). The sale marks only the second time the coin has appeared at auction. When offered in 2002 by Sotheby’s and Stack’s, the coin brought a record price of $7.59 million. The United States Federal Government was the consignor, having settled a landmark legal case over the government’s claim that the coin was stolen.
In reality, the coin did leave the United States Mint in Philadelphia through extra-legal means, but the State Department also authorized its export after officials representing Egyptian King Farouk purchased the coin in 1945. As it stands, this particular 1933 double eagle is the only example of the issue that is legal for private ownership.
The $18.9 million hammer price nearly doubles the world record for a coin set in 2013, when the Cardinal 1794 dollar sold for $10,016,875 to collector Bruce Morelan.
The sale of the 1933 double eagle was the highlight of a brisk three-lot sale that totaled over $32 million. The two other objects offered were historic philatelic treasures. The sole-surviving example of the British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp sold for $8.3 million and a plate block of the famous Inverted Jenny error stamp set a new record for an American philatelic item, bringing $4.9 million. American collector David Rubenstein came forward as the buyer. The buyer(s) of the 1933 double eagle and the One-Cent Magenta stamp have not come forward as of the time of publication of this news article.
Richard Austin, Sotheby’s Global Head of Books & Manuscripts, commented:
“Today’s sale marked a historic moment in the history of stamp and coin collecting — and one that I think will not be surpassed for a long time, if ever. The Stuart Weitzman collection represented the most prized and sought-after stamp and coin specimens known to exist, each with deep histories and remarkable stories that have together captured the imaginations of collectors and the general public alike for decades. To offer any one of these pieces at auction would be a milestone in its own right, but to offer them together in this special sale was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The uniqueness of this moment is a testament to Stuart’s passion and dedication to his childhood ambition of acquiring these prized pieces–and we hope this sale inspires other collectors to start their own journey.”
Stuart Weitzman himself added:
“It has been an honor to be a custodian of these three legendary treasures and it fills me with great joy to have fulfilled a childhood dream of bringing these remarkable pieces together into one collection. I started coin collecting to pass the time in a full leg cast at the age of 12 and later became interested in stamps when my older brother left behind the stamp book he’d started when he went to college. The passion for collecting took root immediately, and today truly marked the culmination of a life’s work. I’m delighted that the proceeds of the sale will help support a number of charitable causes and educational endeavors that are near and dear to me.”
All of the seller’s proceeds will benefit charitable ventures, including The Weitzman Family Foundation, which has supported medical research and higher education such as Boston Children’s Hospital and the Stuart Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania. Other major Foundation projects include a museum in Madrid, the first of its kind, devoted to Spanish-Judeo history.