Geoff Dornan
gdornan@nevadaappeal.com

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August 7, 2013
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Remainder of Carson recluse’s gold and silver fetches $3.2 million

The remainder of a massive gold and silver collection belonging to late recluse Walter Samaszko Jr. fetched $3.2 million in an auction Tuesday at the Carson City courthouse.

That brings the total raised by selling off the collection to more than $6.7 million. After taxes and expenses, all the money will go to his sole heir, cousin Arlene Magdanz of San Rafael, Calif.

That is quite a bit less than the $7.4 million appraiser Howard Herz estimated the collection was worth a year ago. The reason is simple: Gold prices have been falling and closed Tuesday at $1,283 an ounce, more than $300 less than when the first half of Samaszko’s collection was sold in February.

A total of 2,457 gold coins, mostly high-quality U.S. $20 gold pieces from the 1800s, and an unknown number of silver coins were auctioned off. This time, Silver State Coin of Reno took the majority of the loot, with Brittany Carlson outbidding three other coin dealers — including Carson City’s Allen Rowe, who took almost all of the lots in February’s auction. Carlson took three of the six lots: the silver coins for $15,400 and two lots of gold coins for $1.72 million.

She said that whether the coins are sold in lots to dealers or directly to individual collectors will be up to her bosses.

Rowe, representing both his Northern Nevada Coin and Bullion as well as Rare Coin of America, claimed the other three lots for a total of $1.45 million.

There was a glitch at the start of the auction in District Judge James Wilson’s court as Rowe and two other bidders pointed out that there were some counterfeit coins in lots 5 and 6. They said the high-quality phonies were probably made in the Middle East, primarily Lebanon, in the 1970s. They told Glover and Judge Wilson the counterfeits almost always have the right amount of gold in them, but that their only value is the price of the metal given that, as counterfeits, they have to be melted down.

Carson City Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover and estate lawyer Dawn Ellenbrock assured the buyers any counterfeits could be sold back to the estate at the value paid.

Samaszko, 69, was found dead in his Mountain Street home in June 2012. Nobody knew he was wealthy until a crew sent to clean out the house discovered boxes and boxes of gold coins, all neatly wrapped in plastic and foil and labeled.

Magdanz, who hasn’t attended any of the proceedings, has already received about $1 million. She is Samaszko’s only heir but will have to wait until expenses, including the Internal Revenue Service, legal fees, storage of the gold and the 2 percent of proceeds that, by law, go to Glover as administrator of the estate.

The estate also has made an initial payment to the IRS. John McKenna said the total estate tax has been estimated at $800,000, but that it may end up higher than that because it wasn’t clear whether Samaszko’s mother had paid her share of estate tax when she died years ago. As a result, some cash could be owed there.

Samaszko lived quietly in the Mountain Street home from the 1960s until his death. No one apparently knew he was wealthy. Glover said that according to bank records, he withdrew just $500 a month from a bank account to pay his bills.

Glover said previously that Samaszko’s mother apparently started buying gold in the 1960s. Throughout the years, first she — then he — kept detailed records of what was purchased, when, and how much was paid.

The apparent source of his and his mother’s wealth was that his father was a vice president of the J. Harris Pie Co., which sold out to what is now Mrs. Smith’s Pie Co. before he died in an industrial accident.


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The Nevada Appeal Updated Aug 7, 2013 09:22AM Published Aug 7, 2013 12:43AM Copyright 2013 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.