The 1933 double eagle (United States 20-dollar gold coin) is a coin which currently holds the record for the highest price paid at auction for a single U.S. coin. It was purchased for US$7.59 million. 445,500 specimens of this Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle were minted in 1933, the last year of production for the Double Eagle, but no specimens ever officially circulated and nearly all were melted down, due to the discontinuance of the domestic gold standard in 1933.
In an attempt to end the 1930s general bank crisis, U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6102 with the following exceptions, Section 2. All persons are hereby required to deliver on or before May 1, 1933, to a Federal Reserve bank or a branch or agency thereof or to any member bank of the Federal Reserve System all gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates now owned by them or coming into their ownership on or before April 28, 1933, with the exception of the following:
(a) Such amount of gold as may be required for legitimate and customary use in industry, profession or art within a reasonable time, including gold prior to refining and stocks of gold in reasonable amounts for the usual trade requirements of owners mining and refining such gold. (b) Gold coin and gold certificates in an amount not exceeding in the aggregate $100.00 belonging to any one person; and gold coins having recognized special value to collectors of rare and unusual coins. (c) Gold coin and bullion earmarked or held in trust for a recognized foreign government or foreign central bank or the Bank for International Settlements. (d) Gold coin and bullion licensed for the other proper transactions (not involving hoarding) including gold coin and gold bullion imported for the re-export or held pending action on applications for export license.
In 1933 and 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 of which an official investigation was begun by the Secret Service in March 1944. Prior to the investigation a Texas dealer sold one of the coins and it was on the way out of the country 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 couldn’t 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.
Article Source: en.wikipedia.org