The Gold Could Be Worth $100M. She Has to Give It Back

Rare Double Eagles were pilfered from Mint decades ago
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 2, 2016 7:39 AM CDT

(Newser) – The US government is $100 million richer after the latest ruling in a strange case involving some long-lost gold coins. In 2003, Pennsylvania's Joan Langbord says she found 10 "Double Eagle" coins from 1933 in a safe-deposit box that once belonged to her father, jeweler Israel Switt. The rare coins are worth up to $10 million each, per the Washington Post, but there was one big problem: They'd allegedly been smuggled out of the Philadelphia Mint decades earlier. After Langbord sent the coins for authentication in 2004, the government refused to return them, claiming the coins as its rightful property. In a 9-3 decision on Monday, a federal appeals court sided with the government. "Switt knew that the 1933 Double Eagles were embezzled or stolen and that it was illegal to possess them," a judge said, per Courthouse News.

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Some 445,500 Double Eagles—with Lady Liberty on the front and an eagle on the back—were struck at the Philadelphia Mint in 1933 with a face value of $20, but most were melted into gold bars when Franklin Roosevelt abandoned the gold standard. Two were sent to the Smithsonian, but a rare few found their way to collectors, allegedly with the help of a cashier at the Mint. Monday's ruling "properly establishes that the United States is the lawful owner of the 1933 Double Eagle gold coins," says a US attorney. The decision backs up a 2012 court ruling, overturned in 2015 when an appeals court found the government missed a deadline to respond to Langbord's claim. The panel on Monday found that deadline didn't apply. A lawyer says Langbord will appeal to the Supreme Court, per Reuters. (A hiker found this incredibly rare coin.)

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