An 1856 British colonial stamp once owned by the eccentric millionaire and convicted murderer John du Pont — and which broke records in four auctions — is going under the hammer again in the Big Apple.
Rare stamp expected to fetch millions at auction
The British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, described as the most famous and valuable stamp in the world, is expected to sell for up to $15 million – more than a billion times its original value – on June 8, The Guardian reported.
“It is the Mona Lisa of philately,” philatelic expert David Beech told the news outlet. “It is the one stamp that every philatelist and every collector would have heard about and seen an illustration of.”
The unique stamp has gone on display at Sotheby’s London headquarters before its sale in New York and will be on public view this week, The Guardian reported.
It was discovered in 1873 by a 12-year-old Scottish philatelist named Vernon Vaughan who was living in British Guiana, found it in his uncle’s papers and sold it for six shillings, according to the outlet.
Rich collectors ready to bid on The British Guiana One-Cent Magenta
The stamp eventually ended up in the hands of Count Philipp La Rénotière von Ferrary of Paris, who died of a heart attack in 1917, leaving his collection “with pride and joy to my German fatherland.”
In 1920, France seized the collection from Berlin and sold it at an auction won by industrialist Arthur Hind, who made his fortune making upholstery fabrics in the US, the paper reported.
In 1980, it was sold for a record $935,000 to an anonymous bidder, who was later revealed to be du Pont, the eccentric millionaire who murdered the wrestler Dave Schultz and died behind bars in 2010. Du Pont’s bizarre life inspired the movie “Foxcatcher” starring Steve Carell.
Its current owner is Stuart Weitzman, known as the shoe designer to the stars, who paid $9.48 million for it in 2014. David Goldthorpe, a senior director at Sotheby’s, called the stamp “the ultimate collectible.” He told The Guardian “it speaks about the mania of collecting, the thrill of the chase. And there is only one.”