Story Archive

Who’s the Thief?

When Joan Langbord and her family asked the Secret Service to verify the authenticity of some double eagles from a family safe deposit box, “they authenticated the coins and said, ‘Thank you very much. We will now be keeping them’,” according to family lawyer Barry Berke. In 2002, one Double Eagle sold for $7.6 million; the Langbord box contained 10 of them. The U.S. Mint in Philadelphia made 445,500 double eagles in 1933, but scrapped most of them after Franklin D. Roosevelt scrapped the gold standard. The government claims the Langbord coins must have been stolen, but Berke argued that Langbord’s father, a New York jeweler, might have traded gold for them. In an investigation in the 1940s, the father had said he didn’t recall where he’d gotten some double eagles he’d sold. A federal appellate court ruled that because the government had not filed a proper forfeiture proceeding in court, it had to return the coins, which have an eagle on one side and an image of liberty on the other. (AC/New York Daily News, Reuters, Philadelphia Inquirer) ...Then render unto liberty that which is liberty’s.
Original Publication Date: 10 May 2015
This story is in True’s book collections, in Volume 21.

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