A November blog post published a story we've discussed earlier in The E-Sylum - the 1967 robbery of Willis DuPont and the decades-long saga of the piecemeal recovery of some of rarest and most valuable coins in America. -Editor The upstairs haul wasn’t bad — some $50,000 in cash and jewels — but what the thieves found in the walk-in safe in the study constituted the real prize. There, in a series of display cases, resided one of the most valuable private coin collections ever assembled.
In short order, the thieves tied up Miren and Willis and dumped $1.5 million worth of ducats, rubles, and the rarest of the rare gold and silver coins into several duPont suitcases. They then took off in Miren’s new red Cadillac convertible. About 20 minutes later, the butler freed himself and called police.
Because the robbers had managed to avoid the sophisticated alarm system, investigators at the scene suspected the duPonts were victims of an elite group of criminals who’d staged a recent series of waterborne invasions at several exclusive Florida estates.
But it was not long before Willis offered a more prosaic explanation: “We hadn’t turned the system on,” he said glumly. The thieves had simply scaled the walls of the compound and made their way inside through an unlocked patio door. “That door never had latched properly,” Willis added.
Gone were 7,000 coins including the famous 1866 “no motto” set, the prized Linderman and Cohen 1804 silver dollars, and a number of gold coins struck by private and territorial mints. One of the more notable specimens of the latter was a token from the Colonial days, the “Brasher doubloon” of 1787.
There were 257 coins belonging to the Mikhailovich collection. Originally the property of a cousin of Czar Nicholas II, it had disappeared from Russia under mysterious circumstances and become to coin collectors what the Maltese Falcon was to Humphrey Bogart. Willis had managed to acquire the collection during the 1950s and had begun an incremental transfer to the Smithsonian Institution. The total value of the theft amounted to about $8.5 million in present-day dollars, and none of the coins were insured.
To read the complete article, see: The Great Coin Heist by Les Standiford (http://mench113.blog.friendster.com/2008/11/the-great-coin-heist-by-les-standiford/)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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