The Alaska Centennial Nugget. (Image: Heritage Auctions, HA.com.)
A rare and massive gold nugget, weighing around 20lbs (9kg), has been put up for sale 23 years after it was discovered and it’s expected to reach at least $1 million at an auction that takes place on Dec. 8.
The Alaska Centennial Nugget, the size of baby’s head, was discovered by gold miner Barry Clay near the town of Ruby, Alaska, in 1998, 100 years after the 1896 Klondike Gold Rush.
He found the valuable remnant while pushing dirt with his bulldozer along the shores of the Swift Creek Mine.
The nugget is the largest ever found in Alaska, and only smaller than the “Boot of Cortez” nugget found in Mexico, which weighs 24lbs (11kg).
Clay is said to have buried the nugget near a tree, buying time until he decided what to do with his remarkable find.
The current owner bought the rock directly from Clay, and it has been in the same family for more than two decades.
The upcoming auction will be the first public offering of the museum-quality piece.
The fact that the Alaska Centennial gold nugget exists at all makes it all the more exceptional, Craig Kissick, Director of Nature and Science at Heritage Auctions said in a video.
“Fewer than 50 gold nuggets over 250 ounces exist as gold in nugget form… (it’s) inherently rare; gold nuggets of massive size, even more so,” he says.
Some of Alaska’s richest placers worked in the area around the town of Ruby from 1910 to 1920. There are only a handful of commercial mining operations there today.