Farouk the first reigned as the last king of Egypt from 1936 to 1952, when he was overthrown in a military coup. He was dubbed “the playboy king” because of the lavish lifestyle he led. Farouk owned dozens of palaces and hundreds of cars and went on spending sprees in Europe. He’s alleged to have owned 1,000 suits!
Farouk was also a kleptomaniac and would steal things from heads of state he visited abroad, as well as pick pocket things from common people he passed on the street. He once stole a ceremonial sword from the shah of Iran and a pocket watch from Winston Churchill, amongst other things.
But what Farouk is most famous for are his collections. He collected art, antiquities, cars, jewels, and clocks, as well as oddities like stamps, paper weights, razorblades and aspirin bottles. He also amassed the largest collection of pornography in the world. But his greatest collection of all was his rare coin collection.
King Farouk assembled the greatest private coin collection of all time. He owned over 8,500 coins including two of the most famous coins in the world, the 1933 Double Eagle and 1913 Liberty Head Nickel. South Africa’s most famous rare gold coin, the Single 9, was also part of his collection.
Most of Farouk’s coin collection was amassed during the 1940’s with the aid of several American and European coin dealers. He capitalized on the misfortunes of American collectors facing severe cash shortages during the Great Depression, buying up their collections for bargain prices.
When King Farouk was ousted from power in 1952, he was exiled to Monaco, and was forced to leave his possessions behind. The Egyptian government decided to auction off his belongings, including his gold coin collection, and return the proceeds to the national treasury.
Most of Farouk’s coin collection was sold in February 1954 in the famous “Palace Collections of Egypt” auction held by Sotheby’s in Cairo. Due to a lack of experience, the Egyptian government was not aware of the value of the coins. They were hastily evaluated by the London firm of Fred Baldwin and then sold in large lots of up to 20 coins, combining rare and less-rare coins in each lot. According to experts, the coins were sold for as little as 10 percent of their true market value. The estimated worth of the collection today would be over $150 million.