This true story was told by Robert Strebel at a Financial Times World Gold Conference in Vienna, Austria in 1988. Strebel was a Member of the Executive Committee of the bank J. Vontobel & Co. Ltd. of Zurich, Switzerland. He ended his talk by telling “the story of a friend of mine, Charles Dupont.”
“At the age of 20, Charles Dupont inherited the handsome amount of 1 million French francs (about $193,000). On the advice of a very wise man, he exchanged his inheritance immediately for 50,000 gold Napoleons (coins), which were official legal tender at the time, gold content .1867 Troy oz (worth 20 French francs each at that time). In other words, Charles Dupont was the owner of 50,000 French gold pieces (9,335 oz. gold).
“From that day onwards (January 2, 1920), he sold one gold Napoleon each day to finance his clothing, accommodations, amusements, and food.
“In 1980, Mr. Dupont died at a grand age in an apartment not far from the heart of Paris.
“His nephew moved into the apartment and one day found the notes and diaries of his dead uncle. In these diaries, Mr. Dupont had written how, over the past 60 years, he had been able to live simply, but well, on one “Napoleon” a day.
“He also described the war, mentioning the black market and the fact that in those difficult times pieces of gold fetched very good prices. In addition, he told how the price of the 20 franc gold pieces appreciated substantially after currency manipulations.
“Some months ago (1988), his nephew was searching around in the attic in old chests, boxes and books that belonged to his uncle. He found two chests that were extraordinarily heavy and when he opened them he found they contained a treasure of 28,000 Napoleons. A few weeks ago, the nephew exchanged them at his bank for the sum of 13.9 million French francs (more than S2,000,000).
“For 60 years, Charles Dupont sold one Napoleon a day. He had used 21,900 Napoleons, and with the remainder, he made his nephew a rich man.
“This story has not failed to have an effect on people and firms who have been managing money for decades, or even centuries. That’s why I am convinced that if you are dealing with a reputable asset manager, you will still find gold coins – both now and in the future – in your portfolio.”
Adapted from the Gold News, Nov. – Dec 1988.
1900: Born near Paris
1920: Inherits 1 million French Francs (about U.S. $193,000). Purchases 50,000 Napoleon Gold coins (for 20 French Francs each). He spends 1 Napoleon per day for rest of life.
1980: Charles dies after a long well-lived life.
1988: An heir finds chest with 28,000 Napoleons in the attic (worth more than $2 million then).
2015: (April) Now worth: $6.3 million
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