(KTLA) — More than a week after capturing the interest of the entire nation, a California family’s bounty of 1 million copper pennies has officially changed hands.
John and Elizabeth Reyes, who discovered the massive cache of precious metal coins in the home that previously belonged to Elizabeth Reyes’ father, say they’ve completed a sale for the pennies.
Since first speaking with Nexstar’s KTLA, the Reyes’ story went viral and they received no less than a thousand offers. John Reyes said he was so inundated with inquiries that many interested parties were left without an answer, their messages forever lost as social media requests and unread mail in his inbox.
“There were some people that were legit, bonafide, really good prospects that I had just completely missed,” he said. “Because of the influx of messages that I received, it was just overwhelming.”
But despite not being able to respond to every interested party, he said his family is happy with the person who ended up making the purchase.
A major prerequisite was a desire and ability to actually see the potential of the coins rather than simply their face value.
“We wanted to make sure that it was somebody that was going to have genuine interest in the find,” John Reyes said.
Although the value of the coins themselves was only about $10,000, the couple was asking for more than twice that, hoping that a collector or investor might be willing to buy a lottery ticket in the form of thousands of pennies.
He wouldn’t disclose the final sale price — non-disclosure agreements were a key part of the transaction — but he admitted that his family was “more than satisfied” with the number.
He said anonymity was a frequent request with the majority of the prospective buyers, many wanting to avoid a media firestorm like the one the Reyes family just experienced.
The pennies were found in the crawlspace of the historic Pico-Union home where Elizabeth Reyes’ father, identified only as Fritz, lived with his brother for decades.
Since Fritz died and his brother moved out, the Reyes family, alongside Elizabeth Reyes’ sister, her cousin and their spouses, have been cleaning out the 1900s-era home to prep it for renovations.
While cleaning out a crawlspace, the family uncovered boxes, crates and bags of copper coins that Fritz had apparently stockpiled prior to the U.S. switching from copper to zinc pennies.
Fritz and his brother were German immigrants born in wartime who had seen firsthand what a material shortage looked like, John Reyes said. Fritz began collecting the copper pennies, hoping they would only gain value over time.
While it was an exciting discovery, the thousands and thousands of pounds of pennies proved to be a bit more of a hassle than the busy family members had time to manage. So John Reyes listed them for sale online and eventually reached out to KTLA for help getting the story out there.
After a whirlwind of interview requests and a constant barrage of inquiries, John Reyes said the family officially parted ways with the pennies last week.
The unidentified buyer orchestrated the pickup of the coins, and everything went smoothly — much smoother than the original transport of the coins, for which the family drove two loaded pickup trucks (their suspensions tested by thousands of pounds of pennies) from Los Angeles to the Inland Empire.
Aside from a nice payout for their discovery, John Reyes said the family feels as though a literal weight has been lifted off of them.
“It’s genuinely a really, really nice relief just to be able to have the goal accomplished for the family, and at the same time what we believe to be is the right buyer for them,” he said.
It’s admittedly a bittersweet moment to finally have this chapter of their lives come to an end. The coins were a link to the family’s history, a physical manifestation of Fritz’s eccentricities and love for his family. That sentiment is not lost on his children or their spouses.
“The sense of connection, the depth of really what it was, it was not lost on the family at all,” John Reyes said.
That connection won’t disappear entirely. He said the family kept some pennies as keepsakes, a memento to ensure they will always have a connection to a story that changed their lives.
Those pennies will carry the legacy of Fritz, his brother, and their extended family and, now, a new family heirloom will keep their story alive for generations.
“It’s just pretty amazing how so many people bought into the story worldwide,” John Reyes said. “We’re just blown away by it.”