Couple who found $10 million in gold coins may have to pay half to taxman
A couple who unearthed America’s biggest buried treasure trove may have to split their jackpot with the tax authorities
One of the coins, a so-called 1866-S No Motto Double Eagle, is said to be valued at $1 million on its own Photo: AFP
By Nick Allen, Los Angeles
2:43PM GMT 28 Feb 2014
A California couple who discovered $10 million worth of gold coins while walking their dog on their property, the greatest ever buried treasure find in the United States, could lose nearly half of their windfall in tax.
[SNIP discussion of tax situation]
In the latest find, 1,400 mint condition gold coins, dating to the mid-to-late 1800s, were discovered in eight decaying metal cans in Northern California’s so-called Gold Country, where the 1849 Gold Rush took place.
The finders want to remain anonymous amid fears of having their property swamped by treasure hunters.
One of the coins, a so-called 1866-S No Motto Double Eagle, is said to be valued at $1 million on its own.
The couple took their find to Don Kagin, a renowned coin dealer near San Francisco, who said about 90 per cent of the coins would be sold on Amazon.
In an anonymous interview released by Mr Kagin, in which the couple were called “John” and “Mary”, they told of their shock.
Mary said: “I was looking down in the right spot and saw the side of the can. I bent over to scrape some moss off and noticed that it had both ends on it. John used a stick to dig up the first can. We took it back to the house, it was very heavy.”
John added: “Heavy enough that we needed to take a little breather before getting back to the house. It was getting towards evening and the light was fading. I said to Mary ‘Wow, this thing is heavy. It must be full of lead paint’. I couldn’t figure out what in the world would weigh that much.
“Right after making the comment about it possibly being paint, the lid cracked off and exposed a rib of a single gold coin. I knew what I was looking at immediately. I looked around over my shoulder to see if someone was looking at me. I had the idea of someone on horseback in my head. It’s impossible to describe really, the strange reality of that moment.
“I clamped the lid back on. I had found a can of gold coins and I thought there was a zero percent chance of Mary believing me. When I told her, there was a look of bewilderment. Her mouth was so wide open flies could have flown in and out several times.
“Of course, it was a very surreal moment. It was very hard to believe at first. I thought any second an old miner with a mule was going to appear.
“Like a lot of people lately we’ve had some financial trials. I feel extreme gratitude that we can keep our beloved property. I dug a hole under the wood pile and got a slab of green board to cover it, put the coins in plastic bags, then put them in a box inside an old ice chest and buried them. Yeah, the old-timers had it right – it’s safer than in a bank.”
Mary said: “We went back to the site and a foot to the left of the first can we broke into another can. In the process we used a small hand shovel and a few coins scattered. It was so decomposed only half of that can was left. It was like looking at a pocket of coins. It was like finding a wonderful hot potato. It took us awhile to get the guts to Google what coins we had.
“Whatever answers you seek, they might be right at home. The answer to our difficulties was right there under our feet for years. Don’t be above bending over to check on a rusty can.”