Ten of the rarest and most valuable coins in the world were almost certainly stolen from the federal mint in Philadelphia and therefore belong to the U.S. government and not heirs of a coin dealer who found them in his safe deposit box, a federal judge ruled.
The Augustus Saint-Gaudens double eagles $20 pieces were among some 445,500 struck during the Great Depression. But nearly all were pulled out of circulation within weeks as President Roosevelt ordered U.S. banks to abandon the gold standard. It was originally believed that all but a pair of the double eagles was melted down into gold bars. One of the surviving coins fell into the hands of King Farouk of Egypt, and sold for more than $7.5 million at a Sotheby's auction in the summer of 2002.