Friday, February 1, 2013

Champagne Vineyard gold coins for auction

A gold coins collection found in the attic of an old building in the rural village of Les Riceys, France will be auction by Bonhams during its June 2013 auction of Rare Coins and Medals in Los Angeles. The well publicized discovery occurred in France last February by chance when, according to the vineyard, several of the coins rained down on a worker remodeling a former grape-drying facility.

Vineyard gold

The Collection features 497 gold US coins minted between 1851 and 1928 with an approximate appraise of $1 million. The coins have been untouched for nearly a century and range in condition from Very Fine to Choice Mint State. It is unknown how the coins found their way to the attic in the eastern village of Les Riceys, France, but the building was owned by a wine producer who traded with the US and England in the 1930s.

Paul Song, Director of the Rare Coins and Banknotes Department at Bonhams, said of the auction, "Bonhams is extremely pleased to be working with The Lanson-BCC Group on this auction. With many coin collections typically found in bank vaults, we are excited to bring this new, uniquely discovered treasure to auction. Our Bonhams Paris Office was instrumental in working closely with the consignor, Lanson-BCC Group, parent company to Alexandre Bonnet Champagne among others, to ensure that the Collection will be presented and sold at auction in the US as a newly discovered treasure. As well, we are delighted that the auction of the coins will not only promote the name of the Lanson Group Champagne brands in the US but that half of the proceeds from the auction will go to the individual who discovered the coins in the house. The vineyard has described him as a modest employee of the Lanson firm, who brought the Collection to the attention of the company not knowing that he would be entitled to half of the proceeds under French law. According to the vineyard, this anonymous individual will now be able to buy or build a house for his family with the auction proceeds."

The building where they found 497 gold US coins, a former grape-drying facility, is owned by Champagne producer Francois Lange. Mr Lange, the head of the Alexandre Bonnet Champagne firm, said: "One of the workers was attacking the building’s ceiling with a crowbar when gold coins started to rain down on him, followed by sacks of gold."

Half the coins will go to the workers and the other half to Mr Lange. The gold coins are worth about $980,000 (£622,000) today.