Even though he lived in the same quiet neighborhood for decades, no one seemed to know Walter Samaszko Jr. He was so reclusive that weeks passed before authorities discovered he had died in his modest home in Nevada.
But when cleanup crews arrived, they made another startling discovery: the 69-year-old who had lived so simply had a vast collection of gold coins worth millions of dollars stored in old ammunition boxes in his garage.
About half of the collection was due to be auctioned tonight in a Carson City courtroom to pay the $800,000 in government estate taxes and fees. The profits beyond that amount will go to a substitute teacher in San Rafael, California, who is Samaszko’s first cousin and sole heir. It took an exhaustive search to locate Arlene Magdanz.
In total, about 135lb of gold is to be sold at auction, which was expected to net about $3m. Another auction for the larger half of the collection is due to take place soon.There boxes contained 2,900 Austrian coins, many from 1915; more than 5,000 from Mexico; at least 500 from Britain; 300 U.S. gold pieces, some dating to 1880; and more than 100 US gold pieces as old as the 1890s.
Among the coins were meticulous records of the purchases dating back to at least 1964, when gold averaged about $35 per ounce. It currently sells for nearly $1,600 an ounce.
Authorities believe that his mother, who lived with Samaszko until her death in 1992, purchased most of the coins. Despite the millions of dollars in his garage, Samaszko didn’t appear to lead a luxurious life. Records show he only withdrew about $500 a month to pay modest bills. He died with $1,200 in a bank account and just over $165,000 in a money market and mutual fund account.
Since learning of her inheritance, Magdanz has shunned publicity and has not commented on her new-found wealth.