The coins, 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagles, had been missing for decades and were recently discovered in a safety deposit box of a now-deceased coin dealer, Courthouse News Service reported Wednesday.
The Philadelphia Mint struck 445,500 of the $20 double eagle coins March 15, 1933, but pulled them back less than one month later when President Theodore Roosevelt ordered banks to abandon the gold standard. At the time it was believed all but two of the coins had been melted down into gold bars, with the Smithsonian in possession of the two remaining coins.
Philadelphia Mint cashier George McCann had given to coin dealer Israel Switt 10 of the coins, which were discovered by Switt's daughter and two grandsons in 2003, Courthouse News Service reported. The government seized the coins when the family took them to the Mint for authentication.
U.S. District Judge Legrome Davis Jr. agreed with a federal jury's decision Wednesday the coins should be forfeited to the government because while the coins could have legitimately left the mint from March 15 to April 5, 1933, Mint records reflect no transactions of the kind.
In 2002, one double eagle coin in the possession of King Farouk of Egypt sold for $7.5 million at a Sotheby's auction, Courthouse News Service reported.