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Rare 1913 Liberty Head nickel with storied history sells for more than $3.1 million at auction

  • 476eac7d01d11f0e300f6a7067008626.jpg

    FILE - This Jan. 2, 2013 image provided by Heritage Auctions shows an authentic 1913 Liberty Head nickel that was hidden in a Virginia closet for 41 years after its owners were mistakenly told it was a fake. The nickel is one of only five known and was sold Thursday April 25, 2013 at an auction conducted by Heritage Auctions in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, Ill., for $3,172,500. (AP Photo/courtesy of Heritage Auctions.) (The Associated Press)

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    This 1913 Liberty Head Nickel - one of only five known to exist - was auctioned Thursday, April 25, 2013 night during the Central States Numismatic Society show at the Schaumburg Convention Center in Schaumburg, Ill. for $3,172,500 (AP Photo/Daily Herald, Patrick Kunzer) (The Associated Press)

  • f8a0af5b01d41f0e300f6a70670049f4.jpg

    This 1913 Liberty Head Nickel - one of only five known to exist - was auctioned Thursday, April 25, 2013 night during the Central States Numismatic Society show at the Schaumburg Convention Center in Schaumburg, Ill. for $3,172,500. (AP Photo/Daily Herald, Patrick Kunzer) (The Associated Press)

A rare century-old U.S. nickel that was once mistakenly declared a fake has sold at auction for more than $3.1 million.

The 1913 Liberty Head nickel is one of only five known to exist. But it's the coin's back story that adds to its cachet: It was surreptitiously and illegally cast, discovered in a car wreck that killed its owner, declared a fake, forgotten in a closet for decades then declared the real deal.

It was offered for sale by four Virginia siblings at a rare coin and currency auction in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg on Thursday, and sold for well over the expected $2.5 million.

The winning bidders were two men from Lexington, Ky., and Panama City, Fla., who bought the coin in partnership.

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