The “Inverted Jenny,” the notoriously poorly printed postage stamp with an upside-down airplane, hit a new high on Tuesday when a block of four sold for $ 4.9 million, a record for one stamp US auction and 2 million more than its last declared selling price.
But the quartet of one of the most famous mistakes in the history of the collection was the cheapest of the three items sold in less than 10 minutes at Sotheby’s. A US $ 20 gold coin that was minted in 1933 cost $ 18.9 million, a record for a coin. The British Guyana (now Guyana) one cent magenta stamp, a 165-year-old stamp that is sometimes referred to as the “Mona Lisa” of philately, cost $ 8.3 million.
Stuart Weitzman, who made his fortune in shoes, parted ways with the three notable collectibles, although he did not attend the sale. He said several months ago that owning all three items fulfilled a childhood dream that started as a rookie, collecting stamps and coins. For the past 20 years, he had focused on acquiring unique items that he believed would have lasting value. But he said in March he was selling the items as he planned for the end of his life.
Richard Austin, head of books and manuscripts at Sotheby’s, said Tuesday that Weitzman had “had fun collecting them, he wanted to have fun selling them – and he certainly did.” The money will go to charitable businesses, including a family foundation.
Sotheby’s said the “Inverted Jenny” block of plaques was purchased by David M. Rubenstein, co-founder of private equity firm Carlyle Group. He purchased a copy of Magna Carta in 2007, and sent it to the National Archives on permanent loan. He also purchased copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Sotheby’s said the buyer of the double eagle coin did not want to be identified. The buyer paid more than double what Weitzman paid – $ 7.6 million in 2002. The double eagle is unique: no other double eagle can be owned by an individual. More than 445,000 have been struck. They were supposed to be destroyed, but 20, including Weitzman’s, were stolen from the mint. Some ended up in the hands of a Philadelphia jeweler and coins dealer whose daughter discovered 10 of them in his safe in 2004. The government challenged his claim to ownership and won. The 10 were sent to Fort Knox, leaving Weitzman’s Double Eagle the only one from 1933 that can be legally sold.
Like the double eagle, the One-Cent Magenta is not only rare, it is unique: there is only one One-Cent Magenta in the world. Its sale price on Tuesday was about $ 1.2 million less than what Weitzman paid in 2014. London stamp dealer Stanley Gibbons said he was the buyer. He said he intended to “democratize access to the most elite club in the history of the collection and offer fractional ownership” of the tiny stamp.
The awards stated that “there wasn’t another Stuart Weitzman backstage waiting to buy it,” said Robert G. Rose, president of the Philatelic Foundation, which authenticates the stamps. “Pure philatelists apparently weren’t. It’s like the double eagle. I don’t know who would have bought the double eagle. He might not have been a die-hard numismatist.