VIENNA (Reuters Life!) - A Spanish precious metals trading company bought the world's largest gold coin for 3.27 million euros ($4.02 million), its exact material worth, from the estate of an insolvent investment firm at a rare auction in Vienna on Friday.
The 100 kg (220.5 lb) piece, one of only five Canadian $1,000,000 Maple Leaf coins the Royal Canadian Mint has ever produced, was snapped up immediately in a written bid from ORO direct, a gold trading company based in Madrid.
There were no counter offers in an auction room packed with more journalists than potential buyers. It sold for the catalog sum, the coin's pure gold value based on Friday's market price. This was four times its face value.
The auction was ordered by the administrator of Austrian investment group AvW Invest, which filed for insolvency in May after its owner and chief executive was arrested on suspicion of fraud, breach of trust and other charges.
AvW had acquired the coin in 2007, joining an exclusive club of owners including Queen Elizabeth, who is also displayed on one side of the coin, two unidentified investors in Dubai and one who is so reclusive even his or her residence is unknown.
AvW had lent its coin, 53 cm (21 inches) in diameter and 3 cm thick, to Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum where it had been on display as part of its coin collection.
Its purity is 99.999 percent, the purest type in the market.
The Royal Canadian Mint launched the coin in 2007 to showcase its production facilities and steal the entry in the Guinness Book of Records for the world's biggest gold coin.
That title had previously been held by the Austrian mint, who in 2004 produced fifteen 100,000-euro coins weighing 1,000 troy ounces (31.1 kg) to celebrate the 15th anniversary of its best-selling Philharmonics coin.
(Addtional reporting by Boris Groendahl, editing by Paul Casciato)