Another epic litigation was set to start July 7 as the U.S. government takes an old woman to court in Philadelphia. Of course the object is not typical, for the woman, Joan Langbord, and her sons are fighting to legalize and force the U.S. Mint to return to them 10 $20 gold coins dated 1933.
You would too if you once had coins in your possession worth $75.9 million.
The Langbord family places their trust in Barry Berke, a New York lawyer who worked miracles for British dealer Stephen Fenton when he was trapped in an FBI sting operation involving an identically described coin. It was eventually sold at public auction for $7.59 million and the profit was split between the U.S. Mint and Fenton.
Could a similar outcome occur again?
The Langbords probably hope so.
Joan Langbord is the daughter of Israel Switt, a Philadelphia jeweler and occasional coin dealer who evidently handled every 1933 double eagle that entered circulation, or at least left the Mint. Mrs. Langbord claims to have found the coins in a family safe deposit box.
She sent the coins to the Mint in 2004 to assure that they were authentic – they are– and then sat back while the Mint said she couldn’t have them back.
Both sides have been battling since September 2004 when Langbord, contacted the Mint’s counsel, Daniel Shaver, to ask if the Mint would authenticate 10 coins.
The family acted through Berke, who previously negotiated with the Mint to legalize the King Farouk-Jay Parrino-Stephen Fenton specimen.