A family was awarded the rights to 10 rare gold coins possibly worth $80 million or more on Friday after a U.S. appeals court overturned a jury verdict. U.S. Department of the Treasury officials insist the $20 Double Eagles were stolen from the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia before the 1933 series was melted down when the country went off the gold standard. They argued that Joan Langbord and her sons cannot lawfully own the coins, which she said she found in a family bank deposit box in 2003. Langbord’s father, jeweler Israel Switt, had dealings with the Mint in the 1930s and was twice investigated over his coin holdings. A jury in 2012 sided with the government.
Congress clearly intended for there to be limits on the government’s ability to seek forfeiture of citizens’ property, and today’s ruling reaffirms that those limits are real and won’t be excused when the government violates them.
Family lawyer Barry Berke
However, the appeals court returned the coins to the Langbords because U.S. officials had not responded within a 90-day limit to the family’s seized-property claim, filed in about 2004. Sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens designed the Double Eagle with a flying eagle on one side and a figure representing liberty on the other. The Mint struck nearly a half-million of the Double Eagles in Philadelphia in 1933 but never released them. They were melted into gold bars after President Franklin D. Roosevelt abandoned the gold standard.