Skip to comments.Rare Coins: Family Treasure or Ill-Gotten Goods?[1933 Double Eagle]
Posted on 09/17/2009 10:35:27 AM PDT by BGHater
Roy Langbord had guessed that someone in his family might have hidden away a great treasure decades before, but not until his mother had him check a long-neglected safe-deposit box did he realize just how great it was.
Inside the box, opened in 2003, he found an incredibly rare coin, wrapped in a delicate paper sleeve. It was a gold $20 piece with Lady Liberty on one side, a bald eagle flying across the other and, at Libertys left, the four digits that made it so valuable: 1933.
The famous double eagles from that year were never officially released by the government. Only a few had ever made their way out of federal vaults, and only one had ever been sold publicly, in 2002. The price: $7.6 million.
And there were nine more of them in the safe-deposit box.
But after the Langbord family took the coins to the United States Mint to be authenticated in 2004, they got a rude surprise. The Mint said the coins were genuine and kept them.
The government claims that they are government property stolen from the Mint, most likely in the 1930s, by Mr. Langbords grandfather, Israel Switt, a Philadelphia jewelry dealer.
The Langbords went to court and recently won an important ruling. A United States District Court judge has given the government until the end of the month either to give back the coins or go back to court to prove that they were in fact stolen by Mr. Switt, a daunting task after three-quarters of a century.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
The theft of the property isn’t an issue for this guy.
Nobody’s trying to put him in jail for that.
Hower, the posession of stolen property begins the moment it’s discovered. I’m not saying it’s stolen, but the government considers it to be stolen. Stolen property doesn’t legitemize with the passage of time.
Now, I’d like to see the government prove that they were stolen.
Anybody that’s ever been to an surplus or MRO sale knows that the goobermint is incapable of keeping track of its stuff and wether it was legally sold or not.
However, the government had no evidence whatsoever, at least as far as the article mentions, that the Langboards' did not have title to the coins.
They just assumed their title was invalid and responded accordingly.
IOW, the government did not go through any due process hearing to show why its title was superior to that of the Langboards.
the title to an item that was stolen (if that's what happened) does not magically transfer itself to you just because a lot of time has passed.
I don't believe this is true. Isn't there a common-law principle whereby unchallenged possession for some period of time constitutes title? Since just about all title to real estate is based on conquest (theft) or force of some type, if you go back far enough, don't we admit that legitimate title passes with sufficient time?
A great many American Indian tribes have (accurately) pointed out that their land was stolen, often in direct defiance of treaties. Yet there doesn't seem to be a lot of support on FR for handing the USA, or even large chunks of it, back to them.
Oh there are large chunks I would have no problem giving back to them, let's start with Massachusetts.
The mere notion of goobermint 'considering' something to be stolen is hardly sufficient, at law, to justify the seizure of the property...assuming the goobermint operates according to the rule of law.
Oh, I definitely agree.
Mega-dittos for the way the IRS seizes accounts and assets without due process.
And don’t get me started about cops and their WO(S)D asset seizure and forfeiture tactics.
They want it. You got it.
Anything else is incidental.
Well, aside from land.
A fair point.
Actually, he does.
U.S. currency is a liability on the Fed's balance sheet - meaning whoever has possession of the Federal Reserve Note has a claim against the Fed.
Of course, the Fed pays its claims in more Federal Reserve Notes, but that's beside the point.
Even if adverse possession applies to coins in general, it would not apply in this case because Langbord’s possession of them was not “open and notorious.”
i had a cowoorker of mine when I was much younger that had a rich uncle. He new his uncle had money but never rally was that close to him. well his uncle died and left him everything becuse he had no children of his own. probably why he had money. Anyway, the 48 milion dollars was quite a surprise. he handled it well and became a really good family man.
That they did, although it might not be unreasonable to act that way if the coins were never released to anyone.
That said and with possession usually being 9/10th’s of the law. He should have not gone to the Treasury until he established legality of ownership. He probably would have ended up with 1/3 to 1/2 of the loot because the Treasury wants the money and will not destroy the coins. Of course that would be illegal since it violates a presidential order.
Oh heck go with the Nevis scenario.
A fascinating story. I’ve read both these books and have followed this story since.
Alison Frankel: Double Eagle: the epic story of the world’s most valuable coin. New York: Norton, 2006 ISBN 0-393-05949-9
David Tripp: Illegal tender : gold, greed, and the mystery of the lost 1933 Double Eagle. New York: Free Press, 2004 ISBN 0-7432-4574-1
I would’ve lived a year at most.
“Bottle of whisky, sleeping tablets by his head.”
Bad Company nailed it with that tune.
I am doubtful the government’s records from that period are complete enough to justify such a confiscation.
To be perfectly fair, let’s admit it is more than likely the coins were stolen from the government.
All I’ve said is that the government should have gone through a due-process hearing to establish this.
Not just confiscate the coins arbitrarily.
Well, aside from land.
No, there's almost always more to acquiring title to land through adverse possession than simply having unchallenged possession. The law differs from state to state but generally requires that the possession be "actual, open, exclusive, continuous, and notorious." Some states use the additional term "hostile" or similar words.
Basically, in most cases, the true landowner has to KNOW (or there should be facts where a reasonable landowner should know) that the squatter/interloper is laying claim to the land, by fencing it in, or living on it, or otherwise doing something that's open and an obvious statement of "I own this" contrary to the true landowner's right.
In some states, the squatter even has to possess the land under "color of title," which means he or she has to have a deed or other document that purports to give title, even if it doesn't in fact, in a situation where a reasonable person would not suspect that the deed was invalid.
I wouldn't be surprised if one or two western states had a less stringent standard, but the general national standard requires the the true owner of the land KNOW or be in possession of facts where he SHOULD KNOW of the squatter's claim.
Sorry to go all lawyer on you.
I’m thinking of the case where a local judge began to develop a footpath and grass on an adjacent property, fully knowing it wasn’t his. The property belonged to another local man, who was keeping the land for a retirement or vacation home in the future.
He found out that the judge had filed an “adverse posession” claim and had been deeded the property by the courts.
Oh, the outrage.
For what it’s worth, I didn’t have squatters in mind, but the government theft of land from natives.
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