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The Binion Treasure

Ted Binion’s legendary collection is a bit different from the usual prestige treasures. Far from the tales of exploration and adventure offered by the jewels of sea vessels, the Binion treasure is instead the result of a tragic tale of love and betrayal in the wicked environment of Las Vegas.

Ted Binion’s treasure: the thirst for money

Benny Binion moved to Las Vegas with his family in 1946 to be able to lawfully practice his favorite activity. Being a criminal with questionable practices, he founded his own casino in the 1950s, the Binion’s Horseshoe.

horseshoe, casino de las vegas

His son, Teddy, inherited his father’s excessive taste for gambling. From a young age, he worked at the family casino, then grew it and participated greatly in building its international reputation. He eventually lost his license and had to withdraw his dollars from Binion’s Horseshoe Casino. He had built up a huge fortune and showed a clear interest in gold bars and silver coins. He hired a man, Rick Tabish, to bury his money in an underground vault at one of his properties in the Nevada desert.

Benny and Ted Binion

At the same time, Teddy meets Sandy Murphy, a 23-year-old stripper with whom he falls in love. He is 55. While taking advantage of her lover’s rich fortune, she becomes very close to his henchman, Rick.

However Ted is not a fool! On 16th September 1998, he discussed it with his lawyer over the phone. He asks to remove Sandy from his will. The next day, he is found dead, he would have made an overdose.

On 19th September, Rick is arrested and assigned to dig up the dead man’s fortune. In the course of the case, a note from Sandy declaring her love to Rick was found with the secret combination of the buried “safe”. The two lovers were eventually charged with Ted Binion’s murder. Legend has it that some of Binion’s loot is still underground, somewhere on his property… Even today, researchers continue to dig for another treasure…

Binion silver coins

The Binion treasure

What happened to the Binion treasure? Spectrum Numismatic International (SNI) bought the coins in 2001 for $3 million. Goldline International Inc. based in Santa Monica is in charge of the auction. There are over 100,000 Morgan and Peace silver dollars and silver half dollars.

All coins are authenticated, graded and labeled by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC). Mark Salzberg, NGC’s president at the time, said it was the largest collection of silver dollars ever authenticated by NGC.

Each silver dollar was sealed in a tamper-resistant plastic case with a certification showing the coin’s year, state of issue and grade. Their pedigree label is unique, green in color, with a depiction of three cowboys in the American West making it easy to identify their pedigree.

green pedigree NGC

Binion silver dollars have moderate aesthetic appeal due to the storage, handling and transportation of the coins by Binion and then by the State of Nevada. The coins were viewed more as commodities and evidence. They have since become highly prized collectibles for collectors.

Binion coins are graded into three categories:

  • Category 1: Coins are authenticated and graded with a numerical grade such as MS63 or AU55 for example. The 2009 report showed 28,788 Morgan dollars with this type of grading.
  • 2nd category: the coins are graded only with shades of “uncirculated” or “brilliant uncirculated”;
  • 3rd category: the coins are authenticated as coming from the Binion treasure, but without any grading or grade.

For numismatists, the most popular way to collect coins from the Binion treasure is to put together a set of coins from different dates and mints.

Thomas Numismatics occasionally offers sought-after Binion dollars. Stay up to date on what’s new by subscribing to our newsletter.

Sources : Article de journal, 2002, « The Binion Silver Hoard » par Brent Lee Wikipedia

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