Half of Carson City recluse’s gold is auctioned for $3.5M
February 27, 2013
Carson City coin dealer Allen Rowe scooped up the lion’s share of recluse Walter Samaszko Jr.’s gold collection Tuesday, winning the bidding for nine of the 11 lots on display at the Carson Courthouse.Rowe, bidding on behalf of his own Northern Nevada Coin Co. and Rare Coin Co. of America in Willowbrook, Ill., committed $2.68 million to buy the coins. With the other lots of coins auctioned Tuesday, the amount raised for the estate came to $3,540,500.That is about half the total collection of coins discovered after Samaszko, 69, was found dead in his Mountain Street home in June. Nobody knew he was a wealthy man 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.Rowe said even though the amount he paid is very close to the metal-value of the coins, he thinks they’re worth more because of the story of Samaszko’s death and the coins’ discovery in his home.“These coins are part of a story that captured national attention,” he said. “There is actually some value to the story.”Rowe said he intends to make some of the coins available for area residents to buy, and that some will be sold online.Appraiser Howard Herz valued the total collection at just over $7.4 million. The remainder of the coins will be sold at another auction or other event.When the auction was finished, Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover, acting as Carson public administrator, said the total raised was about $13,000 more than the value of the gold in the coins. Herz said before the auction that while the coins are valuable, they aren’t rare enough to have a much higher value than just the metal in them.Herz said he has appraised other collections discovered in the wake of someone’s death, but never one as large as this collection. He described the collection as anything but a “hoard.”“It’s a very very well-managed investment in gold,” he said.A total of 9,644 coins were auctioned off. Glover and his team set the minimum bids for each lot of coins based on the price of gold as of the close of business Tuesday on the East Coast — $1.615 an ounce. The minimum bid for the six companies that came to the auction was set at 98.5 percent of that price.Auctioneer John Selcer of Sparks’s Peavine Auctions said that in re-selling the coins, dealers make just a fraction of a percent profit.Asked why the bidders spread out in the courtroom’s jury box, he replied, “they don’t want to sit together because everybody’s got their own cheat sheet on how high they’ll go.”“These guys all know each other,” he said.The only two lots of coins Rowe didn’t make the winning bid on were 4,600 Mexican 2 peso coins and 1,600 Austrian 20 corona coins. He said those small coins are more difficult to market than the more popular large ones such as South African Krugerrands and Canadian Maple Leaf bullion coins, which each are a full ounce of gold. James Mitchell of Silver State Coin in Reno won the Mexican coin lot, and Spectrum Group International of Irvine, Calif., won the Austrian collection.After an estimated $800,000 in federal estate taxes and expenses are paid, the proceeds will go to Samaszko’s only living relative, cousin Arlene Magdanz of San Rafael, Calif. She has not appeared at any of the hearings held to resolve the estate.No date has been set for the sale of the remaining coins in the estate.