A six-pound gold nugget unearthed in California by a part-time prospector with a metal detector is likely to fetch between $350,000 and $450,000 when it goes up for sale later this year.
Discovered in July by an experienced hobbyist scoping public land in Butte County, Calif., the fist-size Butte Nugget should fetch a higher price because of its California provenance, said the dealer selling it, Tiburon, Calif.–based coin company Kagin’s.
“I really didn’t believe that I would see a California nugget of this size unearthed during my lifetime,” said David McCarthy, the company’s senior numismatist, in a statement.
The company did not answer queries from JCK, but told a local news station that the nugget will likely be sold privately in the next few months.
Kagin’s made headlines earlier this year when it marketed the 1,400 gold coins dug up by a California couple out walking their dog in their backyard.
The company has been burned once before—when a 98 oz. nugget represented as from the Golden State turned out to be from Australia, where such finds are more common. After auctioning it for $460,000 in 2010, the company refunded the buyer.
McCarthy told the San Francisco Chronicle that the prospector carefully documented his find, but wants the location kept secret to avoid it being overrun—so much so that McCarthy had to be blindfolded before being brought to scout it out.
“I’m convinced this man found what he said he found,” McCarthy told the newspaper.
In a video displaying the gleaming yellow rock, Bob Van Camp, who goes by the name Digger Bob and is acting as the finder’s spokesperson, said the treasure hunter had already found smaller nuggets in the same area.
But this discovery is “like hitting the lottery,” he said. “It’s a once-in-several-lifetimes find…. [It] is retirement, for sure.”
Van Camp believes this is the second-largest California gold piece still in existence, behind the 156 oz. Mojave Nugget, which currently resides in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. That was also found by a metal detector in 1977.
The message of this story, according to Van Camp: “Don’t give up. They are still out there. Buried treasure in all its forms is still there and still being found today.… Keep at it. Keep the dream alive.”