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1933 Double Eagle Smashes Record

$18.9 Million Nearly Twice the Previous Record Price
Image courtesy Sotheby's.

Image courtesy Sotheby's.

The only example of the 1933 double eagle gold coin that is legal to own changed hands for $18.9 million at an auction conducted by Sotheby’s New York June 8.

The fabled and elusive coin, owned by luxury shoe designer Stuart Weitzman, smashed the existing world record, nearly doubling the price for the most valuable coin.

Following competitive bidding, it achieved the record price after 3-1/2 minutes, with three bidders in the room and one on the telephone vying for this only legal example.

The sale marks the second time the coin has set a world record as the most valuable coin, having sold at Sotheby’s New York in 2002 for $7.59 million in an auction conducted on behalf of the United States government following a landmark legal settlement, which for the first and only time, authorized the private ownership of this 1933 double eagle alone.

In this most recent auction, the coin was presented as part of The Three Treasures Collection, accompanied by the sole-surviving example of a British Guiana one-cent magenta stamp and a 24-cent “Inverted Jenny” plate block. Also owned by Weitzman, the items hammered at $8.3 million and $4.9 million, respectively.

“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,” said Richard Austin, Sotheby’s global head of books and manuscripts. “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.”

A life-long philatelist and numismatist, Weitzman grew up collecting stamps and coins from an early age in Queens, N.Y., and he fulfilled his boyhood dream of acquiring the finest stamps and coins beginning with the double eagle in 2002 and the British Guiana stamp and “Inverted Jenny” plate block in 2014.

“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,” said Weitzman. “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.”

Among the organizations benefitting from the sale proceeds is 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.