The New-York Historical Society has on display one of the most famous and storied coins in the world – the 1933 Double Eagle.
Designed by the renowned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the coin features the figure of Liberty striding before the Capitol Building on its face and an eagle in flight on the reverse.
In 1933 the United States struck almost a half million of the $20 gold coins. At virtually the same time, President, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an Executive Order banning the payout of gold. The 1933 Double Eagles became illegal to own and were never circulated. In 1934, two examples were sent to the Smithsonian Institution for posterity, and the rest were melted into gold bars and sent to Fort Knox—or so it seemed.
In 1944 the U.S. determined 10 coins had escaped destruction, of which nine were surrendered or seized. One was purchased by King Farouk of Egypt. In 1996, a British coin dealer was arrested while trying to sell a 1933 Double Eagle, which he swore had formerly belonged to King Farouk.
In 2002, at the conclusion of lengthy legal proceedings, the coin was sold at auction for $7,590,020, nearly doubling the previous world record. That very coin will be on display on temporary loan from an anonymous private collection.
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