The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has awarded the U.S. Government title to ten rare “Double Eagle” gold coins that date back to the Roosevelt administration. The coins were produced by the Philadelphia Mint in 1933 and are worth an estimated $80 million in total today.
The coins were discovered by the heirs of a deceased jeweler, Israel Switt, back in 2003. Switt had kept the collection locked in his personal security deposit box. Upon trying to have them authenticated by the U.S. Treasury, the Feds claimed they had been stolen from the U.S. Treasury back in 1933. In fact, they had long suspected that Switt had schemed with a corrupt cashier at the Mint to steal the coins.
The court presumed prior criminal intent because the heirs lacked documentation to prove that the coins had been legitimately attained.
This is an extreme example of the critical importance of maintaining proper records and documentation for valuables, collections and other personal property - especially when ownership may cross generations.
Collecting on Your Collection: What to Do with Cherished Goods