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Largest gold nugget in existence auctioned for $460,000

by Jorge Hernandez on March 17, 2011

The biggest hunk of solid gold, weighing 100 troy ounces or 8.2 pounds, went to a lucky bidder for the price of $400,000. The piece sold at an auction of primarily anonymous bidders in Sacramento, California, reports The San Francisco Chronicle.

Known as The Washington Nugget, the ore appears to be about the size of a small plate, was first valued at the flat gold rate of $137,744, but would likely have gone for less due to the fact that there are several veins of rock running through it. Gold closed at $1,396.10 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange, Wednesday.

The item set off a frenzy at the auction among six or seven bidders, with an opening bid of $250,000. The winner of the gold nugget was an anonymous phone bidder, according to the news source.

The news source reports that the gold was found by a man who was using a pick in his own backyard in Washington, which is part of Nevada County. This was the same location where much of the Gold Rush folklore originated in the mid-1800s.

However, the miners of that time period somehow missed the nugget, and it remained undiscovered until March of 2010, when it was revealed with a metal detector.

CNN reports that between 1848 and 1864, around 500,000 people came to California in search of gold. This piece seems to be the last of its kind.

"It's the last one we know left in existence," auction manager Amy Baker told the news source. "There have been larger ones over the years, but they have been melted down."

Little is known about the bidder, except that he or she was from "back East." Auctioneers would not reveal when the coveted item would be delivered.

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