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December 21, 2014

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Gold coins of Carson City recluse sold at auction

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Scott Sonner / AP

A court official holds two 1908 $20 gold coins on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, during an auction at the Carson City, Nev., courthouse. The coins were among the more than 2,000 that were to be auctioned off from the estate of Walter Samaszko Jr., a recluse who left millions of dollars of valuable coins and precious metals in his Carson City garage after his death last summer. One batch of mostly gold bullion sold for $3.5 million at an auction in February.

Updated Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 | 3:51 p.m.

A California woman is $3.1 million richer Tuesday after an auction of rare gold coins found in the home of a recluse who died last year.

This was the second and final auction of the coin collection of Walter Samaszko Jr., who hoarded them in boxes in his garage.

A cousin, Arlene Magdanz of San Rafael, Calif., was the sole survivor. She had not seen Samaszko for several years and has avoided comment on her good fortune.

The first auction netted $3.6 million. So the total amount raised from selling the coins is $6.7 million. It was initially estimated at $7.4 million but the price of gold has declined. The price of gold at the first auction was $1,600 per ounce but it dropped to $1,283 this week

The auction was sold in six lots in the heavily guarded courtroom of District Judge James Wilson Jr., who approved the winning bids for the 2,457 coins. There were six bidders sitting in the jury box for the event.

Brittany Carlson of Silver State Coin in Reno submitted the highest bid of $1.7 million for one batch of 883 coins. Asked what she would do with then, she said "Sell them as fast as I can."

Alan Glover, Carson City clerk-recorder who is administrator of the estate, has already distributed $1 million to Magdanz, a substitute school teacher. He said final distribution will not be made until the estate finds out how much it owes Uncle Sam.

That could be anywhere from $800,000 to $1 million in taxes.

Samaszko was a recluse and he had been dead for about one month before neighbors complained in June 2012 about the smell coming from the home.

Crews cleaning the home discovered the coins and Glover used a wheelbarrow to haul them away.

Magdanz did not attend either of the two auctions and Glover has never met her.

As a side note, some of the bidders said some of the coins were counterfeit. But the estate agreed to refund the money on any of the coins found to be fake.

Allen Rowe of Northern Nevada Coin Co., who purchased coins at the first auction and at Tuesday's sale, said he has sold some to other dealers and then to some on the open market.

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