"No one takes a U-Haul to the cemetery." So says shoe designer Stuart Weitzman to the New York Times in explaining why he is parting with three remarkable treasures. The 79-year-old said he fulfilled a childhood dream in acquiring the stamp and coin rarities: a block of four "Inverted Jennies"; the most valuable single stamp on the planet—the sole surviving 1856 One-Cent Magenta from British Guiana; and a US double eagle coin that also ranks among the world's most valuable. The items will be auctioned at Sotheby's on June 8 and are expected to rake in as much as $37 million. Sotheby's itself was somewhat gobsmacked by the collection, telling the Times it is "very difficult not to use hyperbole" when talking about any of the three items. To wit, the double eagle coin is one of 20 still in existence, and the only one the US government says can be legally privately owned.
Until the Times article, it hadn't even been disclosed that Weitzman was the one who scooped it up in a 2002 Sotheby's auction for $7.6 million, with employees simply calling the buyer "Mr. Big." Linn's Stamp News reports Sotheby's offered up this quote from Weitzman: "I had a life-long dream of collecting the single greatest rarities in the two great collecting areas of stamps and coins and then placing these extraordinary treasures, hidden away for decades, on continuous public view. I determined to do that, and I did that. That was my dream. Today my dream is to leave a legacy of charitable works to which the proceeds from the sales of these treasures will go." The items have variously been on view at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, the Federal Reserve in Manhattan, and the New York Historical Society Museum & Library. (Read more Inverted Jenny stories.)