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Mystery of recluse's $3.5 million in gold

The tale of a mysterious Nevada recluse's gold has reached a new chapter when a portion of the trove raked in more than $3.5 million at auction.

The allure of mystery pulled some bidders to the courtroom where the auction took place Tuesday. For others, it was the sheer value of a collection unknown to the public before Walter Samaszko Jr. was found dead in his modest ranch-style home last year.

Regardless of motivation, those who converged on the auction could sense the immense value of the treasure upon arriving.

Numerous guards were stationed at the entrance, more in the hallway outside the courtroom, and finally several with bulletproof vests and others with helmets inside the room holding the gold.

Five bidders diligently inspected the 11 lots of gold displayed in plastic sleeves, tubes and felt jewelry display boxes heavily guarded room before the bidding wars began.

By the time all sales were final, however, one bidder had secured nine of the 11 lots for sale.

Carson City's Alan Rowe of Northern Nevada Coin spent $617,000 from his own company, and another $2 million on behalf of the Illinois-based Rare Coin Company of America Inc. It was the uniqueness of the gold that drove his bidding, he said.

"Every one of us has a little hoarder nature in our culture and we all like to have things, but to this degree is quite a story," Rowe told reporters after the auction, adding that the metal value "is not as exciting as the story itself, there's actually value to the story."

He added that some of the coins will be available in the store or online for locals hoping to snag a piece of history. Others, he said, will be marketed nationally and likely on television.

This auction was only for the bullion coins, items that are not necessarily rare, just expensive because they are made of gold. There will likely be a second auction for the larger portion of the collection which is comprised of the rare coins, said Alan Glover, the public administrator for Samaszko's estate.

In total, about 150 pounds of gold was sold at Tuesday's auction. About $800,000 will pay various fees and estate taxes, and the rest of the profits go to a substitute teacher in San Rafael, Calif., who is the first cousin and sole heir to the trove of Walter Samaszko Jr.

The Canadian Press


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