When Walter Samaszko Jr., a 69-year-old recluse living in Carson City, Nev., died from heart problems in May, it took nearly a month for anyone to notice, but neighbors certainly became interested when crews sent to clean out Samaszko's home discovered more than $7.4 million worth of gold coins stored in his garage. Because Samaszko left no will, a Nevada judge ruled Tuesday that the fortune will go entirely to Samaszko's only living cousin, Arlene Magdanz, a substitute teacher from San Rafael, Calif.
Cleanup crews and neighbors of Samaszko's were shocked at the discovery of the hidden treasure trove. According to City Clerk Alan Grover, crews opened a box of ammunition that they had planned to sort through (Samaszko was an avid hunter) and they found inside, not bullets, but gold coins carefully wrapped in tinfoil. When they probed further, they found more coins, in boxes labeled "books" throughout the garage and house. Curiously, the Las Vegas Sun reported that Samaszko only had $200 in his bank account at the time of his death. Officials were not sure what he did for a living.
“He was quite a hoarder. He had boxes and boxes and boxes of things,” said Grover. “There were no antiques, no crystal or family jewelry or anything like that. You would never have suspected the guy would have that much. … He certainly didn’t live that way.”
Although Grover said the gold was valued at $7.4 million based only been weight and not as coins, arity, he commented that some of the coins were dated as early as the 1870s and came from all over the world. "There was every kind of coin you could think of," said Grover, who said he had seen coins from Mexico, Britain and Austria. There were so many coins, Grover said, that he had to borrow a wheelbarrow from a neighbor to haul the stash from Samaszko's house into his truck. After transporting them to a bank, crews later moved the loot into armored vehicles.
Samaszko had lived alone in the house since his mother's death in 1992, and neighbors didn't seem to know him. Curtis Hastings, who reportedly dropped off mail at Samaszko's home, told the Associated Press, "I don't think I saw him in the year I was out here." Grover only managed to track down Arlene Magdanz after finding an attendance list from Samaszko's mother's funeral.