One man's cash is another man's treasure. Just ask Kevin Lipton, a Beverly Hills man who placed the winning bid of $2,585,000 for a rare penny last Thursday. Lipton doesn't find anything unusual about paying so much for this rare Birch Cent, one of only about 10 coins that were "experimentally produced" after the US Mint was established and that still exist, a co-chairman of Heritage Auctions reveals to the Los Angeles Times. "It's like our very first penny. It's such a spectacular coin. It's so important, so rare," Lipton tells the Times. He also nabbed a 1792 quarter for an additional $2.2 million.
Lipton has been on the hunt for a Birch Cent—which features a profile of Lady Liberty and a motto that reads "Liberty Parent of Science & Industry"—since he spotted one more than 30 years ago at a New York auction house. He's collected coins since he was 12, started a full-time coin operation when he was 17, and is sure his new investments will pay off, even though he did admit to being nervous about handing over millions of dollars for what technically is 26 cents. "They are a great store value and will only be worth more in the future," Lipton tells the Times. "They are literally Mona Lisas of our coinage." (Zimbabwe's coins may one day hold the same rare value.)