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September 2, 2014

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Auction of recluse’s gold fortune nets $3.5 million to pay taxes

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Jim Grant / Nevada Appeal

Allen Rowe of Carson City, foreground, was the successful bidder on nine of the 12 lots of coins owned by the late Walter Samaszko Jr., Feb. 26, 2013. He says he will put them up for sale to the public.

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Howard Herz, the appraiser who valued Walter Samaszko Jr.'s collection at $7.4 million, is shown at an auction in a small Carson City courtroom, Feb. 26, 2013.

Nearly half of the $7.4 million in gold coins found in the house of a reclusive man were auctioned off Tuesday, and one of the winning bidders said they will be put on the open market.

The auction, conducted in the heavily guarded Carson City courthouse, yielded $3.5 million, or about $13,000 higher than the closing price on the market of gold. It will satisfy about $800,000 in government estate taxes and fees.

Allen Rowe of Northern Nevada Coin of Carson City, who bought nine of the 12 lots, said he will use the Internet, television and other outlets to sell the collections.

“The coins are part of a story that has captured the nation’s attention,” said Rowe after the auction. “The value is in the story.”

Walter Samaszko Jr. died in his home in July and it wasn’t until several weeks later that his body was found after neighbors complained of a stench coming from the house. The coins were found in boxes in his garage about two weeks later by cleaning crews.

Arlene Magdanz of San Rafael was certified as the only living relative — a first cousin of Samaszko, who died without a will. He lived on an investment of about $500 a month. Magdanz has never shown up in Carson City to see the coins but has hired an attorney to represent her. She will receive the auction profits minus taxes owed and fees.

The 9,600 coins sold auction were Canadian Maple Leafs, South African Krugerrands, Mexican Pesos, Austrian Ducats, Austrian Coronas and British Sovereigns.

Rowe was the winning bidder on four of the 12 lots for his company and partnered with Rare Coin Co. of America of Willowbrook, Ill., for five winning bids.

The highest winning bid was $1,017,000 for 620 Canadian Maple Leaf coins, which went to the Illinois company.

Other winning bidders were James Mitchell of Silver State Coin of Reno and Andrew Glassman and Rusty Goe of Spectrum Group International of Irvine, Calif.

Auctioneer John Selcer of Reno said this was an unusual event. The six bidders were seated in the jury box in the courtroom of District Judge James Wilson. And the bidders raised their paddles to boost the price until the winner was selected.

About 12 police officers provided security.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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