KGO/CNN) – They're rare, they're valuable, and they may also be hot. A historian and coin collector believes the stash of gold coins that a California couple found on their property was stolen from the San Francisco Mint back in 1900
It may be the greatest buried treasure ever found in the United States. Coin after coin, more than 1,400 of them pure gold was found by a lucky couple on their California property. The estimated worth of the coins is $10 million.
"How did they find these coins?" CNN reporter Dan Simon said.
"They were out walking their dog like they had for years," said coin dealer Don Kagin. "They spied something metal and they went to investigate. They thought it was full of paint."
The couple wants to remain anonymous, but that hasn't stopped people from trying to figure out who they are and how the riches wound up on their property.
The latest theory is that it's part of an early 20th century heist at the San Francisco Mint.
A newspaper article from 1901 makes reference to the sum of $30,000 in gold coin stolen from the vault of the cashier. The face value of the buried treasure was nearly the same amount.
The thief, a man named Walter Dimmick, was eventually busted, but the gold was never found.
Could the coins be the long-lost loot? And if it is, could it also spell bad news for those who found it?
The answer is ‘yes' according to legal experts.
"In a case where you can clearly identify the owner and clearly identify the crime, the finder's right to the treasure certainly diminishes," CNN Legal Analyst Danny Cevallos said.
But don't start feeling sorry for them. Apparently in this case, it really is finders-keepers.
The mint says it doesn't have any information linking the coins to any thefts at any US mint facility.
The most likely scenario is that it was just a guy hiding his money.
"Back then they didn't always trust banks, you know," Kagin said.
The lucky couple has turned to a couple of coin dealers for help. The coins were filthy and covered with 120 years of dirt, but the dealers brought the cons back to their original luster.
"You think the odds are better of winning the lottery or finding gold buried in your yard?" Simon said.
"Winning the lottery no doubt about it," coin dealer David McCarthy said.
The treasure has been unearthed, but the secret behind it remains buried.
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