‘Del Monte Note’ Sets New Record Price at Auction

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A new world record for the highest price among error banknotes was set on Jan. 22 when Heritage Auctions sold the “Del Monte Note,” a $20 bill featuring a Del Monte banana sticker.

The sale, part of a rare U.S. currency offering, marked just the third time the note had been offered at public auction since its discovery in 2004 and resulted in “a banana bidding war” that rose to nearly $400,000.

The coveted banknote error sold to a bidder competing on Heritages’ live bidding platform, HA Live. Pre-auction bidding lifted the bids to $210,000. From there, the winning bidder outlasted a determined phone bidder and two other live internet bidders to push the final winning auction price to $396,000.

According to Dustin Johnston, Vice President of Currency Auctions at Heritage Auctions, “The Del Monte Note is considered perhaps the most famous of all U.S. error banknotes, and now it holds a world record as the most valuable ever sold.”

The obstruction caused a sensation among collectors of U.S. currency when it was discovered by an Ohio college student in the summer of 2004. The student received it as part of an ATM withdrawal and shortly thereafter posted it on eBay, where it sold for $10,000.

News of the note had barely hit the collecting community, however. When Heritage then offered the note at auction in 2006, it sold for $25,300.

“Collectors immediately fell in love with it,” added Johnston. “The placement of the ‘Del Monte Ecuador’ banana sticker is ideal because it covers part of the printing details and is overlaid by part of the Treasury Seal and the bill’s serial number.”

This isn’t the first U.S. bill to have an obstruction stuck on it during the printing process. Other objects include a Band-Aid, paper fragments, tape, and wood shavings.

“There’s no telling if the sticker was affixed to test printing standards or just a prank by a worker,” Johnston said.

For more information, visit www.ha.com.

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