Sep 16, 2009
A U.S. District Court judge recently ruled that the federal government will have to prove a Philadelphia jewelry dealer stole rare, gold 1933 ”double eagle” coins from the U.S. Mint – 75 years ago, according to The New York Times.
Around 500,000 of these $20 coins were minted before President Roosevelt issued an executive order that made owning large amounts of gold coins illegal as he moved the country away from the gold standard. Two coins ended up in the Smithsonian, and most of the rest were melted down, according to the Times.
Other coins did survive, however, and the only one sold at public auction went for $7.6 million. So imagine Roy Langbord’s surprise, then, when in 2003 he discovered 10 double eagles in a long-forgotten family safe deposit box. The Mint authenticated the coins five years ago but said it would be keeping them because Langbord’s grandfather stole them. Langbord and his family claim his grandfather acquired the coins legitimately before the ban was enacted.
The government has until the end of the month to prove the coins were stolen or else they will have to return them to Langbord. Observers believe it will be nearly impossible for the government to prove its theft theory.
Or, if I may put words into their mouths, the government’s chances are significantly less than a coin flip.