CARSON CITY, Nev. – A substitute teacher from California was found to be the only heir to a fortune of gold coins discovered by a cleaning crew in the home of a reclusive cousin who quietly stashed away a treasure of more than $7 million before he died this year.
A court hearing in Carson City is scheduled Tuesday, when a judge is expected to certify first cousin Arlene Magdon as the lone heir to the treasure valued at $7.4 million found in the home of Walter Samaszko Jr., Carson City Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover told the Nevada Appeal.
Samaszko, 69, lived a quiet life in Nevada's capital city since the late 1960s and no one apparently knew of his wealth. Records show he withdrew just $500 a month from his stock accounts to pay modest bills, Glover said, who was handling Samaszko's affairs as public administrator.
Samaszko apparently had no living family in Carson City, so genealogical researchers went to work to find relatives elsewhere. They found Arlene Magdon is the only living heir to what appraisers say is an estate worth more than $7.4 million. Magdon could not immediately be reached for comment.
A crew hired by Glover to clean up the man's house discovered the eye-popping stash: boxes of gold coins and bullion in the garage. More boxes were later found, and Glover said the gold coins, some neatly wrapped in foil and plastic cases, were enough to fill two wheelbarrows.
"You name it, (he) had it," Glover said.
Since Samaszko was found in his home, Glover said he and experts brought in to help with the case have made progress in appraising the fortune and disposing of some of the other property, including the house, which sold for $112,500.
He said he is taking Samaszko's 1968 Ford Mustang California Special in for servicing this week or next to get it ready for sale. The classic is appraised at about $17,000.
Samaszko also had money market, stock and bank accounts totaling $165,570 and $5,330 in other property in the home. But the vast majority of the fortune was in gold coins. Appraiser Howard Herz filed his report several weeks ago listing a total of 2,695 coins appraised at more than $7.4 million.
"What some individuals have called a hoard of gold is, in fact, a quite well-thought-out investment in gold," he wrote.
Once the gold and other property is sold off and the taxes and expenses paid, the proceeds will become the sole property of Magdon. Those expenses include the appraisals, storage of the gold and other property, legal fees and 2 percent of the eventual proceeds that, by law, go to the public administrator who handled everything.
Glover said there have been a few callers trying to claim some or all of the gold is theirs -- one of them annoying enough that Glover got a court order blocking him from further communications. None of the callers presented any evidence to support their claims, he said.
"If they have a true claim, they've got to file court papers," he said.