Woman Scores $7M Fortune From Long-Lost Relative

Cleaning crew finds thousands of gold coins in dead man's garage

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 19, 2012 11:10 AM CST

(Newser) – For those who dream of some long-lost dead relative leaving you a fortune, it apparently can actually happen. Arlene Magdanz, a San Francisco-area substitute teacher, is now officially a millionaire seven times over thanks to a dead first cousin. The AP reports that a crew cleaning out Walter Samaszko Jr.'s home found ammunition boxes in the 69-year-old's garage filled with thousands of gold coins, worth $7.4 million. The haul was so huge that the public administrator of the estate borrowed a neighbor's wheelbarrow to cart the treasure out—and filled the wheelbarrow twice.

Officials tracked down Magdanz using a funeral bulletin at Samaszko's home that led to his father's service in Chicago in the early 1960s, and then newspaper clippings that listed survivors. It's unclear what Samaszko did for a living, or where the money used to buy the gold came from; his mother, who lived with him until her death in 1992, may have actually been the one to purchase it. The public administrator described the coins as "nothing spectacular"—the value comes from the fact that there are more than 8,000 of them. But there's a downside to the long-lost relative dream: Magdanz is currently in a secret location, having been 'harassed" for interviews.

These are gold coins, but not the gold coins in question.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne, file)
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