This illegal to own 1933, $20 double eagle gold coin sold for 7.6 million dollars at auction. Could you imagine having such a coin confiscated by the secret service? Enjoy the story about this rare coin worth big money!
Information sourced from Wikipedia:
The 1933 double eagle is a United States 20-dollar gold coin. Although 445,500 specimens of this Saint-Gaudens double eagle were minted in 1933, none were ever officially circulated and all but two were ordered melted down. However, 20 more are known to have been rescued from melting by being stolen, and found their way into the hands of collectors. 19 of these were subsequently recovered by the Secret Service, who destroyed nine of them, making this one of the world's rarest coins.
The two intentionally spared coins are in the U.S. National Numismatic Collection, one is in the hands of a private owner who paid US$7.59 million for it in 2002–the second-highest price paid at auction for a single U.S. coin–and ten others are held in Fort Knox.
In 1933, in an attempt to end the 1930s general bank crisis, U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6102.
Congress additionally passed the Gold Reserve Act in 1934, which outlawed the circulation and private possession of United States gold coins for general circulation, with an exemption for collector coins. This act declared that gold coins were no longer legal tender in the United States, and people had to turn in their gold coins for other forms of currency. The 1933 gold double eagles were struck after this executive order, but because they were no longer legal tender, most of the 1933 gold coins were melted down in late 1934 and some were destroyed in tests. Two of the $20 double eagles were presented by the United States Mint to the U.S. National Numismatic Collection, and they were recently on display in the "Money and Medals Hall" on the third floor of the National Museum of American History.
These two coins should have been the only 1933 double eagle coins in existence. However, unknown to the mint, a number of the coins (20 have been recovered so far) were stolen, possibly by the U.S. Mint cashier, and found their way via Philadelphia jeweler Israel Switt into the hands of collectors. The coins circulated among collectors for several years before the Secret Service became aware of their existence. The matter came to the attention of mint officials when an investigative reporter looked into the history of the coins he had spotted in an upcoming Stack's Bowers coin auction and contacted the Mint as part of his research. As a result, an official investigation into the matter was launched by the Secret Service in March 1944. Prior to the investigation, a Texas dealer sold one of the coins to a foreign buyer, and it left the U.S. on February 29, 1944.
During the first year of the investigation, seven coins were seized or voluntarily turned in to the Secret Service and were subsequently destroyed at the Mint; an eighth coin was recovered the following year and met the same fate. In 1945, the investigation identified the alleged thief and his accomplice, Switt, who admitted to selling the nine (located) coins, but could not recall how he obtained them. The Justice Department tried to prosecute them, but the statute of limitations had passed. A tenth coin was recovered and destroyed in 1952.
In contrast, the 1933 Eagle was issued before Roosevelt's withdrawal order, so they may be legally owned by private citizens. However, it is estimated that no more than 40 exist, the rest having been melted, making them exceptionally rare.
The missing double eagle was acquired by King Farouk of Egypt, who was a voracious collector of many things, including imperial Fabergé eggs, antique aspirin bottles, paperweights, postage stamps—and coins, of which he had a collection of over 8,500. In 1944 Farouk purchased a 1933 double eagle, and in strict adherence with the law, his ministers applied to the United States Treasury Department for an export license for the coin. Mistakenly, just days before the mint theft was discovered, the license was granted. The Treasury Department attempted to work through diplomatic channels to request the return of the coin from Egypt, but World War II delayed their efforts for several years. In 1952, King Farouk was deposed in a coup d'etat, and many of his possessions were made available for public auction (run by Sotheby's) – including the double eagle coin. The United States government requested the return of the coin, and the Egyptian government stated that it would comply with the request. However, the coin disappeared and was not seen again in Egypt.
In 1996, a double eagle surfaced again after over 40 years of obscurity, when British coin dealer Stephen Fenton was arrested by U.S. Secret Service agents during a sting operation at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.