DALLAS – A $20 bill mysteriously printed on top of an ordinary fruit sticker sold Friday for $25,300, an auction company official said.
The flawed note bears a red, green and yellow Del Monte sticker next to Andrew Jackson's portrait.
The buyer at the auction in Orlando, Fla., did not want to be identified, said Dustin Johnston, director of auctions for Heritage Galleries and Auctioneers of Dallas.
The 1996 bill originated at a U.S. Treasury Department printing facility in Fort Worth, but how the fruit tag found its way onto the paper of the greenback is unknown.
"I've collected for probably seven years now and nothing comes close to the way people react to it — their eyes pop out," said Daniel Wishnatsky, a Phoenix currency collector who bought the bill online in 2003 for $10,100.
Jason Bradford, president of PCGS Currency in Newport Beach, Calif., authenticated that the error was genuine and not faked outside the printing plant.
Currency goes through three printing stages, Bradford said: first the back is printed, then the face, and then the bill receives serial number and treasury seal stamps.
In the case of the Del Monte note, the seal and serial number are both printed on top of the sticker, meaning the fruit tag must have found its way onto the bill midway through the process, he said.
The note, in nearly perfect condition, has achieved celebrity status among currency collectors, appearing on the covers of the Bank Note Reporter and Numismatic News.