It's probably safe to say that, for those of us who missed the cut for the Forbes 400 (maybe next year!), unexpectedly finding even a single gold coin would be a cause for wild celebration.
A visiting faculty member from Egypt at the University of Colorado, however, proved his remarkable altruism and integrity when such a stroke of luck fell into his lap.
The one-year stay at the university for Professor Ahmed Yousef, a researcher from Egypt, was nearing its end. He decided to buy an inexpensive briefcase from a local thrift shop to pack for his trip home.
Apparently the store owner (and the donor of the lightly-used briefcase) didn't inspect it very thoroughly: Yousef investigated what was causing the weight imbalance and found an envelope filled with a handful of gold coins in one of the inner pockets.
The American Gold Eagle coins in the envelope are reportedly worth $10,000, according to a Fox affiliate in Denver.
His investigation didn't stop there, though. In an incredible act of probity, Yousef resolved to return the coins to their owner, who had clearly made a mistake.
The search for the rightful owner consumed the final days of Yousef's time in the United States. With only a name and outdated address (written on the envelope) to work with, he tirelessly called people he could find named James Noble. It turns out there were dozens of them to go through.
Yousef later told reporters that he was determined to continue his search from Egypt, but obviously it would've become much more cumbersome to do so from overseas. The clock was ticking.
He also had to carefully probe the people he called to determine if they were the right person. There's a good chance of getting a false positive if you're just calling around and asking, "Did you lose some gold coins? I'd like to return them." Yousef was selflessly following his moral principles, but he was not naive.
The 76th person that Mr. Yousef spoke to offered the crucial detail he was looking for: He and his siblings had recently donated a number of their deceased parents' old possessions to Colorado thrift stores. Their father's name was James Noble.
When the two men met at a hotel—understandably wary of being scammed—and the surprise was revealed, it was an emotionally rewarding experience for both of them. This incredible story illustrates the human capacity for generosity and good will, even among total strangers.
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Everett has been the head content writer and market analyst at Gainesville Coins since 2013. He has a background in History and is deeply interested in how gold and silver have historically fit into the financial system.