Illegal Tender: Gold, Greed, and the Mystery of the Lost 1933 Double Eagle
January 29, 2005
On July 30, 2002, history was made at a Sotheby's auction in New York City. A single gold coin, the infamous 1933 Double Eagle, was sold for $7,590,020. Not only did this make the 1933 Double Eagle the most valuable coin in the world (by nearly double), it also made it one of the five most expensive objects ever wrought in America and sold at auction.
Even more than this momentous event, however, it's the once-secret story of the life and times of this Holy Grail of American coins--whose journeys read like "a composite of The Lord of the Rings and the Maltese Falcon." In Illegal Tender, leading authority on fine arts and former head of Sotheby's coin department David Tripp recreates the astonishing history of this notorious artifact as it travels from the deathbed of a famous artist, across the ocean and into the vast, legendary collection of a sybaritic Egyptian king, to a vault in the World Trade Center, to its own pre-auction national tour.
Extensively researched, beautifully written, Illegal Tender weaves a spine-tingling tale of deceit, corruption, human error, and intrigue that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until a twist on the very last page.
David Tripp is a numismatic and fine art consultant, writer, and cartoonist. He has degrees in classical archaeology, was an actor, photographer, and formerly the director of Sotheby's coin, tapestry, and musical instrument departments. He is married and lives in Columbia County, New York.
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