This $20 face-value coin was a good investment! A never-circulated, 1933 U.S. gold coin sold for a record $18.87 million at a Sotheby’s auction in New York on June 8. The Double Eagle, with the image of Lady Liberty on one side and an American eagle on the other, was the last U.S. gold coin made. Right after it was made, President Franklin D. Roosevelt removed America from the gold standard and ordered the coins destroyed, except for two given to the Smithsonian Institution. However, in 1937, several of the coins appeared on the market, sparking a Secret Service investigation in 1944 that ruled that the coins had been stolen from the US government and were illegal to own. Because of a mistake that allowed one coin to be sold overseas and subsequently ruled private property, the coin bought June 8 is the only 1933 Double Eagle allowed to be legally sold.
Designed by the American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the coin beat its pre-sale estimate price of between $10 million and $15 million. The previous record for the most expensive coin in the world was $10 million paid for a 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar in 2013.