Counterfeit gold bars discovered in New York City

Sophisticated counterfeit manufacturers purchase real gold bars like these, hollow them out and fill them with cheaper tungsten.

Jewelry merchants in New York City are finding out they have to be more careful that they’re not inadvertently buying fake gold.

The issue of counterfeit gold is re-emerging after a reputable merchant in Manhattan discovered he’d bought $100,000 worth of fake gold bars, WNYW reported.

When merchant Ibrahim Fadl drilled into several of the gold bars he’d bought from a regular source, he discovered they were actually filled with gray tungsten.

Whoever is making the fake gold bars seems to be running a complex operation.

“I can’t imagine how they cut the bar clean, and cut, and took everything inside out and left the shell to fit the tungsten in,” Fadl told NY1 News.

According to WNYW, the deception happens when a hollowed-out, real gold bar with serial numbers and papers is filled with cheaper tungsten, since it weighs nearly the same.

For merchants like Fadl, it’s a costly mistake: A counterfeit 10-ounce gold bar bought for almost $18,000 ends up only being worth $3,600, WNYW reported.

NY1 News asked Fadl how he felt after he discovered the four bars he bought were fake. “Sick to my stomach, but I thank god we didn’t sell this to somebody,” he said.

Gold expert Mike Fuljenz, of Universal Coin & Bullion, told NBC News that counterfeiting like this has been going on for a long time.

“The people who get hit are not the bigger dealers,” Fuljenz said, since they often use machinery to detect counterfeits. However while it’s easier to pinpoint counterfeits in thinner materials like coins, Fuljenz said it’s more difficult with a big, thick bar.

The Secret Service, which is reportedly investigating the case, was originally founded in 1865 for the purpose of stopping the counterfeiting of U.S. currency. The agency said Wednesday they won’t provide further comment.

This New York incident could be a sign of a more widespread criminal effort. Gold bars filled with tungsten were discovered in England back in March, according to WNYW.

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Millions of dollars in World War II silver recovered from deep ocean

It took more than seven decades, but England finally got its delivery of tons of silver coins.

For most of those years, the money was deep at the bottom of the Atlantic, the monetary casualty of a cruel World War II sinking.

In November 1942, the unguarded SS City of Cairo was sunk by a German U-boat while carrying 296 civilians and cargo that included 100 tons of silver.

The vessel sunk to more than 16,800 feet under the surface (5,150 meters) where it went undiscovered until 2011 when Deep Ocean Search decided to go looking for it.

The sinking was the stuff of legend. The City of Cairo was bringing silver rupees from India to England as part of the war effort. After a stop in Brazil, two torpedos sank the ship in the Atlantic.

After the ship went under, the U-boat reportedly surfaced and the captain said to the survivors in lifeboats: “Goodnight, sorry for sinking you.” The captain’s lament is the title of a book about the event.

Only a handful of people died as the ship sank but about 100 more passed away during the desperate attempt of the six boats to make it to land, which was hundreds of miles away.

When the last of the lifeboats was found 51 days later, all but two people in it had died.

Deep Ocean Search said in a news release that during the 2011 search it located an unnatural object on radar. A sub found the City of Cairo split into two parts, buried by silt.

“Under contract to the UK Ministry of Transport, DOS recovered several tens of tons of silver coins from a depth of (5,150 meters),” the company said. The depth is a world record, the company claimed.

Other deep-water operations reported in the media that are close to this depth include the 1987 search for the wreck of a South African Airways plane at 16,000 feet (4,700 meters) and the discovery of the SS Gairsoppa at about 15,400 feet (4,800 meters) in the North Atlantic in 2011.

The BBC reported the City of Cairo salvage operation was completed in September 2013, but the British government made the company keep it secret until this week.

The coins were melted and the silver sold, the BBC reported. Deep Ocean Search got a percentage of the sale, and the UK Treasury the rest, according to the BBC.

At today’s rates, 100 tons of silver would be worth about $50 million.

Remains of USS Oklahoma crew to be exhumed at Pearl Harbor

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1795 time capsule opened, centuries after Revere and Adams buried it

More than 200 years after Samuel Adams and Paul Revere first buried it in Boston, it took an hour to remove all the objects crammed inside a tiny time capsule.

Onlookers anxiously watched the unveiling Tuesday, worrying the items might not have weathered the years very well.

“Could we actually go through the whole box, or would things prove too fragile to take out?” said Malcolm Rogers, director of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. “It was like brain surgery, with history looking down on us.”

Piece by piece, Pam Hatchfield, head of objects conservation for the museum, removed each item, whispering “wow” as she first caught a glimpse of some of them.

Among the stash Hatchfield removed from the 1795 time capsule: Five folded newspapers, a Massachusetts commonwealth seal, a title page from Massachusetts colony records and at least 24 coins.

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This rare $2.50 coin just sold for $2.4 million

NEW YORK — One of the rarest of all U.S. gold coins, a 207-year-old Quarter Eagle, sold for a record $2.4 million Tuesday.

The Quarter Eagles were worth $2.50 when they were minted and were only made in small quantities during the late 1700s and early 1800s. This particular coin was minted in 1808.

The coin is so rare that most Americans in that era probably never got a chance to see it, according to Stack’s Bowers Galleries, which sold the coin at auction.

One side of the coin depicts Lady Liberty and an eagle is on the other side.

The 1808 Quarter Eagle was one in a collection of 128 coins that sold for a total $25 million at the auction.

A quarter from 1796 went for nearly $1.6 million, matching a previous record. So did a half-dollar minted in 1797, becoming the most valuable half-dollar coin ever sold.

A Half “Disme” (a five-cent coin also known as a half-dime) from 1792, sold for $440,625. It was made even before the first mint was built, at the request of Thomas Jefferson, according to Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

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1849 Mormon gold coin sells for $705K at auction, another draws $558K

SALT LAKE CITY – A $10 Mormon gold coin fetched $705,000, and a $20 Mormon gold coin sold for $558,000 at auction this week.

They were the rarest of a seven-piece collection of Mormon coins made in 1849 that brought in nearly $2 million at an auction staged by Dallas-based Heritage Auctions.

The territorial coins, put up for sale by a collector, went to an undisclosed buyer. Bidding ended Thursday night.

Tyson Emery, a coin expert at All About Coins in Salt Lake City, said coins and currency were scare when Mormon pioneers arrived in Utah in 1847, and the settlers began making their own coins primarily to buy goods from the East.

“The gold that they used to make these Mormon gold coins came from the original California gold strike, probably right from the American River at Sutter’s Mill,” he told the Deseret News ( ).

Only 46 of the $10 gold coins were made, and just a few are still around. Emery had predicted the $10 piece would sell for at least $500,000.

The equipment used to make the coins was crude, and not a lot of coins were made as a result. While rare, Mormon coins are put up for sale from time to time, Emery said.

Mormon currency came in denominations including $2½, $5, $10 and $20. Simple and rugged designs showed clasped hands, with uneven lettering and numbers.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints History Museum has a replica display featuring coins, dies and other equipment.

The prices for the other coins that were sold at auction this week ranged from $64,625 to $235,000.

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Rare 15th Century Spanish Coins Going Up for Auction

Rare Spanish coins dating back to the ancient world will be going on the auction block.

Sotheby’s announced Thursday that it is selling 37,895 of the rare coins on behalf of the New York City-based Hispanic Society of America. The society’s founder amassed the collection more than 100 years ago.

The Hispanic Society of America, founded in 1904, is a museum of Spanish and Latin America history. It holds art, rare books and, manuscripts and artifacts. The museum contains works by Diego Velásquez, Francisco de Goya and El Grego – and it has the first edition of Don Quijote.

The coins are expected to raise between $25 million to $35 million for the society. The money will be used for future acquisitions and care of the current collection.

According to the New York Times, the society is going through financial hardships after seeing its endowments shrink.

“We’ve not had, historically, an acquisition fund for museum collection,” Mitchell A Codding, the executive director, told the Times. “This will now give us a significant fund.”

The collection includes 50 massive gold coins called Excelentes struck under Ferdinand and Isabella, during the period of Christopher Columbus’ expeditions.

Other coins date from the Roman Empire and from the era before Rome when a number of cultures including Celts and Phoenicians inhabited what is now Spain. The Islamic period after the year 711 is also represented.

The coins are being sold as one lot in a sealed bid auction ending March 8.

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Old safe given away for scrap filled with ‘substantial’ amount of gold coins

HOUSTON ? An old concrete-lined safe that was drilled open after the owner died yielded a treasure trove of what appeared to be gold coins ? but how much they are worth is unknown.

Kese Smith, a spokesman for the Houston Police Department, had no estimate on the coins’ value Wednesday but said it likely involves a “substantial” amount. Officers took temporary custody of the coins earlier this week until parties involved in a civil case that erupted over the safe reached an undisclosed agreement Tuesday, Smith said.

An attorney involved in the matter, Mike DeGeurin, did not immediately return a message seeking comment Wednesday. DeGeurin had said earlier that relatives of the late owner, whose name wasn’t released, apparently gave an individual the safe while clearing the home but said any valuables found were to be returned, according to KTRK-TV.

Locksmith Robert Rivera with Robbie’s Key & Lock Shop says a customer planning to sell the safe for scrap wondered about the contents. Rivera helped with the weekslong effort that ended Monday when the safe was finally cracked open.

“Sometimes it gives up easy; sometimes you’ve got to work at it,” Rivera told KTRK-TV. “I was going to get some C4.”

He was surprised to see boxes of what looked like genuine gold coins. “We thought it was fake, that it couldn’t be real gold,” said Rivera, who contacted police about the find. The locksmith took photos of the contents.

The safe also contained silver bars and jewelry, KPRC-TV reported.

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Rare gold coin may fetch up to $4 million at Georgia auction

An auction gallery in Georgia is selling what?s believed to be one of the rarest coins ever made in the United States ? a $3 gold coin estimated to be worth up to $4 million.

The coin is believed to be a 1870-S $3 piece from the San Francisco Mint that was found embedded into a souvenir book in a bookstore in San Francisco, according to Steve White, owner of the Four Seasons Auction Gallery in Alpharetta, Ga.

?It?s one of two, maybe three, known to have ever been minted by the San Francisco Mint,? White told ?It?s almost folklore to have this kind of rare coin to be around.?

White said the only other 1870-S $3 gold coin known to exist was sold at auction in 1982 for $687,500. The coin will be auctioned on June 2 and White invited all potential buyers to bring an independent expert to authenticate the piece.

?It?s a big piece of American history,? he said. ?We expect the coin to bring in between $2 [million] and $4 million.?

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Israeli spelunkers find cache of 2,300-year-old coins and other rare objects

About a month following the discovery off the coast of Caesarea of the largest trove of gold coins in Israel, spelunkers have unearthed another treasure, this time in one of the country?s largest and well-hidden northern stalactite caves. Father and son members of the Israeli Caving Club Reuven Zakai and Hen Zakai, as well as their friend Lior Zhalony, discovered a cache of rare coins and silver and bronze objects that date back 2,300 years, according to a release from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The Zakais and Halony were prepping for a caving club expedition to the cave, investigating the area for several hours. The younger Zakai, 21, crawled through one of the cave?s narrowest passageways when he found two silver coins that were later identified as being minted during Alexander the Great?s reign. Alongside the coins was a cloth pouch containing items of silver jewelry like bracelets and earrings.

The three men reported the discovery to the IAA?s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery. This past weekend, IAA officials and members of the caving club entered the cave, stumbling across other artifacts like pottery vessels. They found numerous objects, some dating back to the Chalcolithic period (6,000 years ago), the Early Bronze Age (5,000 years ago), the biblical period (3,000 years ago), and the Hellenistic period (2,300 years ago).

The combination of archaeological find and stalactite cave is unique, according to the IAA. Geologists will be able to analyze stalactite development, while archaeologists now have an easy marker to date some of the objects, given that a few of the pottery vessels bonded with limestone sediments. This gives researchers a way to trace when the stalactites formed as well as determine the artifacts? age.

?After the gold treasure from Caesarea, this is the second time in the past month that citizens have reported significant archaeological finds and we welcome this important trend,? said Amir Ganor, director of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery. ?Thanks to these citizens? awareness, researchers at the Israel Antiquities Authority will be able to expand the existing archaeological knowledge about the development of society and culture in the Land of Israel in antiquity.?

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Gold coin sells for big bucks

One of the rarest of all U.S. gold coins sold for a record $2.4 million Tuesday.

The 207-year-old gold “Quarter Eagle” was worth $2.50 when it was minted in 1808.

One side of the coin depicts Lady Liberty, and an eagle is on the other side.

The 1808 Quarter Eagle was one in a collection of 128 coins that sold for a total $25 million at the auction.

Among them, a quarter from 1796 went for nearly $1.6 million, matching a previous record.

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