1933 Double Eagle Case Continues: Monday Morning Brief, July 13, 2015

By , Coin World
Published : 07/13/15
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The government keeps claiming these coins were "stolen." However, if there had been $500 (the 25 $20 coins Israel Switt had always claimed he obtained, which turned out to be correct) missing from the government's ledgers in 1933, a storm would have arisen at the time. Therefore, what likely happened is that Switt traded 25 $20 coins from previous years for the brand new coins, and made a small profit selling these coins to the "be the first on your block" collector crowd, as was standard practice in those days. All one needed was a friend at the mint, which he had.

The government has been robbed of nothing. Five hundred dollars was a small fortune in 1933. Had that much been stolen from the mint, a storm would have ensued. When the government melted down its gold coins, it was not missing a gram of gold.

Fast forward to now. The government is spending how much on this case? Hundreds of thousands? Millions? Try this for a happy ending: the Langbords are allowed to keep and sell their ancestor's coins. Say the nine undamaged coins bring a modest $2.5 million each. The government is already entitled to tax the money as income (at 39%) or maybe even at estate tax levels (50+%). The government's take doesn't stop there. They get to tax the fees made by any potential auctioneer, and they get to tax any profits made if and when any buyer sells their coins at a profit, plus any fees made by the next round of auctioneers in perpetuam. Better yet, the government gets all this money without having to spend another cent on pursuing this case. What do they gain if they keep these coins? $11,000 worth of gold, as the coins can't be sold if they win. Compare that to the millions Uncle Sam rakes in if the Langbords are allowed to sell the coins. I'm not an accountant, but if there's some way that $11,000 is more than $8,000,000 I'm surely unaware of it.
Marcd.emory stole my thunder :) the coins were never stolen, mr Langbord either traded existing double eagles or purchased them during the short time window these coins were available at the cashier window before ending sales of gold coins... If memory serves, I think Mr Dave Bowers mentioned this in one of his articles when this was a fairly new news story... Feel free to correct me...