Danish Butter Merchant’s $72 Million Coin Collection To Hit Auction Block 100 Years After Death

A Danish butter merchant’s rare coin collection worth an estimated $72 million is set to finally go to auction after a century. Lars Emil Bruun said in his will that 20,000-piece coin collection couldn’t go to auction until 100 years after his death. Well, that moment has finally arrived, as the L. E. Bruun Collection, poised to become the most valuable collection of world coins and medals ever to cross the auction block, emerges from its slumber.

Brunn amassed his fortune through his global enterprise and savvy real estate investments. With his wealth, he pursued his numismatic hobby, engaging in the coin collecting community, participating in auctions, and building a specialized library. Unlike the collections of his contemporaries, which have long since been dispersed, Bruun’s assemblage has remained essentially intact, thanks in part to a unique and highly peculiar testament in his will.

Deeply moved by the devastation he witnessed during World War I and fearing a new war or the bombing of Copenhagen, L. E. Bruun left exacting instructions for his beloved collection. For a century after his death in 1923, the collection was to serve as a reserve for the Royal Danish Coin and Medal Collection in Copenhagen. Should the national collection be substantially destroyed by fire, theft, or other calamity, Bruun’s collection would be offered to Denmark as a gift. However, if the next 100 years passed with the national collection intact, the will stipulated that Bruun’s collection “shall be sold at public auction and the proceeds shall accrue to the persons who are my direct descendants.”

On Nov. 21, 2023, the final provision of Bruun’s will came into force, releasing his nearly 20,000-piece collection for auction. The collection, housed within four grand custom-made cabinets, as they were at Bruun’s demise, has been securely stored in a secret location, insured for $72,550,000.

Stack’s Bowers Galleries will begin the auction this fall.

“As a native of Denmark, I am overjoyed that Stack’s Bowers Galleries has been entrusted with this prestigious task — a dream of mine since my early days as a coin enthusiast,” says Henrik Holt Christensen, senior director of consignments at Stack’s Bowers Galleries. “Upon viewing the collection firsthand, I was struck by its sheer diversity and quality, offering a comprehensive narrative of Scandinavian monetary evolution. From entry-level pieces to exceedingly rare treasures that are the finest quality in existence, Bruun’s collection encapsulates Scandinavia’s millennium-long numismatic journey.”

The L. E. Bruun Collection showcases the monetary history of Denmark and related territories, Norway, Sweden, and even medieval coins from the era when Danish kings ruled in England. Its breadth and depth are a testament to Bruun’s perseverance, dedication, and financial resources, which allowed him to acquire not only individual coins but also entire collections.

“We at Stack’s Bowers Galleries are honored to be entrusted with Bruun’s numismatic legacy after a century-long wait,” says Brian Kendrella, president of Stack’s Bowers Galleries. “Auction houses from around the globe pursued the opportunity to present these coins. The legendary expertise of our team, our international reach, and our record of success with famous specialized cabinets of diverse numismatic items will enable us to showcase this collection in a way that will secure Bruun’s name among the most important coin collectors of all time.”

The auction of this collection promises to be a historic event, cementing Bruun’s legacy as one of the most significant coin collectors in history and offering enthusiasts and investors alike the chance to own a piece of Scandinavian monetary heritage.

Click here for more information about the auction.

HobbyListings editor Matt Higgins contributed to this report.

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