On 10 January 2014, a record for World Most Expensive Banknote were broken at Florida United Numismatics (FUN) Convention Rare Currency Auction in Orlando by a 1890 $1,000 Grand Watermelon banknote for USD$3,290,000. The auction is part of a series of auctions the firm conducted last week that have grossed more than $105 million total, the largest numismatic auction in history.
The note's nickname has been derived from the resemblance of the three large zeros on the back to watermelons. The 1890 $100 Treasury Note has two of these zeros and has always been referred to as the "Watermelon" note. This $1000 has earned the Grand Watermelon moniker. This is the most famous of all US type notes and only three collectors can simultaneously hold this type.
The previous record for World Most Expensive Banknote is the same 1890 $1,000 Small Red Seal Grand Watermelon banknote privately sold by Heritage Auction on 16 December 2006 for $2,255,000.
"This note is an icon of American financial history — and is the only known example in private hands — we knew something extraordinary was possible," said Dustin Johnston, Director of Rare Currency at Heritage Auctions. "Collectors knew this was not a chance that was going to come around again anytime soon, and they bid accordingly. The result being that this beautiful little piece of paper is now the most valuable of its kind in the world and has a new chapter to add to its legend."
The note sold to a private collector that wished to remain anonymous.
This is the only small seal Grand Watermelon outside of government hands. The last time this note was offered at auction was in 1970, where it brought $11,000.
Source: Heritage Auction.