NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – The largest known gold bar from the California gold rush – a bread loaf-sized brick named Eureka – has been sold for a record $8 million, officials said Thursday.
The ingot was bought by a collector described only as a Forbes 400 business executive, said Michael Carabini, president of Monaco Financial, the Orange County-based rare coin company that handled the sale.
The sale nearly doubled the record set previously for the sale of collectible money. In 1999, a single silver dollar sold for more than $4 million, said Donn Pearlman of the Professional Numismatists Guild.
“They sold the artifact that was the piece of numismatic history of the California gold rush,” he said.
The bar was handmade in 1857 by California assayers John Kellogg and Augustus Humbert. Weighing nearly 80 pounds troy, the bar’s face was stamped with its 1857 value – $17,433.57.
On Sept. 3, 1857, the bar was loaded onto the SS Central America in San Francisco. The “Ship of Gold” was bound for New York, where the gold was to be turned into coins.
Eight days later, the ship was damaged in a hurricane and sank Sept. 12 more than 140 miles east of Cape Hatteras, N.C., in 8,000 feet of water. More than 400 people died.
The lost riches helped spark an economic depression that lasted three years.
The gold sat on the ocean floor until 1986, when Thomas Thompson founded the Columbus-America Discovery Group to research and locate the shipwreck. The treasure was recovered, but a court fight with insurance companies kept the gold locked up.
The treasure was later sold to the California Gold Marketing Group, a group of private investors. The bar was part of a 16-month exhibit that included $20 million worth of gold items recovered from the shipwreck.
To learn more about America’s lost treasure, visit www.sscentralamerica.com
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