NEW YORK – Shrouded in mystery and once illegal to own, the fabled 1933 double eagle $20 piece was last night auctioned off for a record $7.59 million.
The coin went to an anonymous telephone bidder in a sale organized by Sotheby's auction house and coin experts Stacks.
The bidding started at $2.5 million and lasted for about 10 minutes as six hopeful owners vied for the prize.
The highest price previously paid for a coin was $4.1 million, for an 1804 U.S. silver dollar.
The double eagle - which has been called everything from the Holy Grail to the Mona Lisa of coin collecting - is incredibly rare.
First struck in 1933, all but 10 of the coins were destroyed before they could be issued because the country was taken off the gold standard. Since they were never issued, they could not be legally owned.
In the 1940s and '50s, the Secret Service managed to hunt down nine of them.
The coin sold last night - whose whereabouts were unknown for decades — is the only 1933 double eagle believed to be in existence.