PHILADELPHIA, July 21 (UPI) -- A Philadelphia jury has ruled 10 rare "Double Eagle" $20 gold coins locked in a safe deposit box for nearly 80 years belong to the U.S. Treasury.
The coins were among 445,000 "Double Eagles" minted in 1933 but never issued by the Treasury. They have a face value of $20 and bear a goddess of liberty on one side and an eagle on the other side designed by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
One surviving "Double Eagle" coin sold at auction in 2002 for $7.5 million, Robert Hoge, curator of North American coins and currency at the American Numismatic Society, told ABC News. These 10 could be worth $4 million each.
During the depths of the Great Depression in 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6260 ordering U.S. gold coins be turned into cash and that the newly minted "Double Eagles" be melted into bullion. However, in 2003 these coins were discovered in a safe deposit box belonging to the 81-year-old daughter of jeweler Israel Switt.
"Those coins were all in a vault and were supposed to be melted," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Romero told ABC. "They were never issued. They didn't go out the front door. This was clearly a crime. The people of the United States were robbed."
The jury agreed with the government's case after five hours of deliberation. The $20 gold pieces eventually may end up on display at the Federal Reserve Bank.