(Dallas, Texas) – Fifteen tattered $20 bills recovered from the infamous 1971 “D. B. Cooper” skyjacking sold for a combined total of $37,433 in a public auction on Friday, June 13, 2008. The prices paid for the PCGS Currency-certified notes were two to three times higher than expected, according to Heritage Auction Galleries (www.HA.com) of Dallas, the firm that conducted the auction of the historic currency.
Winning bidders paid $6,572 each for two of the $20 bills that have the plainly visible handwritten initials of investigators who examined the money after it was found buried in sand nine years after the hijacking. Both are Series 1969 Federal Reserve Notes.
Another recovered note that was just a tiny surviving fragment showing only a portion of the printed San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank seal still sold for $358 in the auction.
“There’s obviously still tremendous interest in the legendary case, 37 years after the skyjacker jumped from a jetliner with the ransom money and vanished. We received bids from across the country,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage.
“I was ten years old when it happened and I remember it like it was yesterday, sitting at the family Thanksgiving table in West Seattle hearing the news. For a young boy, it was fascinating. I’ve always wondered if Cooper lived the high life for a while or became bear food,” Rohan recalled.
The notes were consigned to Heritage by Brian Ingram of Mena, Arkansas who was eight years old in 1980 when he found the only ransom money ever discovered from the still-unsolved skyjacking. While vacationing with his family he uncovered the notes in the sand along the banks of the Columbia River near Vancouver, Washington.
A suspect identified as “Dan Copper” or “D. B. Cooper” was given $200,000 ransom in $20 bills, and parachuted with the cash from a jetliner over rugged territory somewhere between Seattle, Washington and Reno, Nevada during a rainstorm on November 24, 1971.
The ransom notes were sold as part of an Americana memorabilia auction being conducted today and tomorrow by Heritage in Dallas and online. The winning bids quoted above include a 19.5 percent buyer’s premium added to the final price paid by all winning bidders in the auction.
Ingram still owns another 70 pieces of recovered ransom money, but has not yet revealed if he will sell them.
Ingram’s recovered $20 bills were authenticated in February and placed into protective, archival storage holders by PCGS Currency (www.PCGScurrency.com) and each are accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity. Each holder has a label with the FBI’s 1971 artist’s sketch of the sunglasses-wearing skyjacking suspect who has still not been found.