CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Even though he lived in the same quiet neighborhood for decades, no one seemed to know Walter Samaszko Jr. He was so unknown that weeks passed before authorities discovered he had died in his modest Carson City home.
When cleanup crews arrived, they made another startling discovery: The 69-year-old man who had lived so simply had a vast collection of thousands of gold coins worth millions of dollars stashed in old ammunition boxes in his garage.
About half of the collection's value will be auctioned off today in a Carson City courtroom to satisfy some $800,000 in government estate taxes and fees.
The profits beyond that amount will go to a substitute teacher in San Rafael, Calif., who is Samaszko's first cousin and sole heir. It took an exhaustive search to locate Arlene Magdanz.
The auction will include only the bullion coin collection, not the collector's edition coins, said Alan Glover, Carson City's clerk recorder who will oversee the auction.
"They're buying and bidding on an ounce of gold, pure gold by the weight," Glover said.
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 checking account and just a bit more than $165,000 in a money market and mutual fund account.