DALLAS – Fifteen tattered $20 bills recovered from the 1971 D.B. Cooper skyjacking sold Friday for more than 120 times their face value at a Dallas auction.
Heritage Auction Galleries said the bills sold for a total of more than $37,000 — two to three times higher than expected.
Winning bidders paid about $6,500 each for two of the $20 bills. The money has the handwritten initials of investigators who examined the bills, which were found buried in sand in 1980.
Another recovered note, a tiny fragment showing only a portion of the printed San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank seal in the design, sold for $358.
Cooper skyjacked a flight from Portland, Ore., to Seattle, claiming he had a bomb. He released the passengers at a Seattle airport for $200,000, four parachutes and a flight to Mexico.
On that flight, he jumped out with a parachute near the Oregon-Washington line. He was never found.
"There's obviously still tremendous interest in the legendary case," Heritage President Greg Rohan said in a statement. The gallery declined to identify the winning bidders.
"I was 10 years old when it happened and I remember it like it was yesterday, sitting at the family Thanksgiving table in West Seattle hearing the news. I've always wondered if Cooper lived the high life for a while or became bear food," Rohan said.
Brian Ingram of Mena, Ark., consigned the notes to Heritage. He was 8 years old when he found three bundles of deteriorating $20 bills on the shore of the Columbia River near Portland, Ore.
The FBI matched the serial numbers and kept 13 bills in case it ever prosecutes the Cooper case. The Ingrams also had to give some bills to an insurance company that paid the ransom.
Ingram still owns another 70 pieces of recovered ransom money, but has not yet revealed whether he will sell them.