Gold at $3,989 per Ounce, Huge, Historic Nugget Brings $1.5 Million

(Dallas, Texas) – Gold bullion has dropped well below $900, but a gold nugget has been sold for the equivalent of nearly $4,000 an ounce. The fabled “Boot of Cortez,” a nearly foot long gold nugget that weighs 389.4 ounces – more than 26 pounds – was purchased for $1,553,500 in a public auction conducted by Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas, Texas ( on Sunday, January 20, 2008. “The Boot of Cortez was purchased by an anonymous American philanthropist who wishes to see it return to public display in the very near future,” said Jim Halperin, Co-Founder of Heritage.

“It’s the largest surviving gold nugget ever discovered in the Western hemisphere,” said David Herskowitz, Director of Natural History for Heritage. “It was found in the Sonora Desert near Caborca, Mexico in 1989 by a local man using a metal detector he’d just bought at Radio Shack. It was prominently displayed last year in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.”

This was the first offering of natural history items by Heritage, the world’s third largest auction house. The 418 lots of fossils, gems and other items sold for a combined total of $4,187,227.

In addition to the Boot of Cortez gold nugget, other highlights included:

The world’s largest prehistoric mastodon skull that was painstakingly excavated from a Southeast Texas gravel pit after its discovery in 2004 sold for $191,200.
A rare 22-pound pallasite meteorite that fell to Earth near Fukang, China in 2000 that was purchased for $155,350.
The remains of a complete, 3 1/2 inch fossilized lizard preserved for over 30 million years with a half dozen insects in
prehistoric amber brought $143,400. Discovered in the Dominican Republic, it’s the largest complete animal ever discovered in amber.
Names of the buyers were not publicly disclosed. The prices paid by the winning bidders include a 19.5 percent buyer’s fee.

For additional information, contact Heritage Auction Galleries, (800) 872-6467, or online at