Us

Rare 1913 nickel fetches more than $3.1M at auction

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.

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.  (AP)

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.