This is bananas: A $20 bill is now worth $105,000... and counting

bananas at the del monte factory
Photo: picture alliance / Contributor (Getty Images)

In news that involves an unlikely string of events, somehow, a $20 bill has magically been transformed into a $105,000 treasure—and all because of well-placed Del Monte sticker. This is the kind of shit I live for on the Internet, because otherwise, my life is a desolate wasteland of loneliness and video games.

This story goes all the way back to 2004 when a college student from Ohio withdrew some money from an ATM. As he gathered up the bills, he saw that one of them, a $20, had a Del Monte sticker slapped on it. But the kicker was that the sticker was printed over with the U.S. Treasury seal along with the bill’s serial number. Food & Wine has the skinny.

In the world of collectibles, printing mistakes are really valuable. The student knew that he was sitting on something that could potentially be worth a lot of money, so he put it on eBay, where it sold for $10,000—already a good deal of money. The buyer was a collector in Arizona, who eventually flipped it two years later to a cool $25,300.

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Last month, a Dallas auction house, Heritage Auctions, put the bill up for sale yet again, and right as of this moment, the thing is at a “fuck-that’s-a-lot-of-money” $105,000 ($126,000 with all the fees, but at this point, who’s counting?).

The auction website has this to say about the bill (along with its constantly updated going price):

This highly unusual and colorful error note is commonly referred to by collectors in the numismatic fraternity as “The Del Monte Note,” simply because of the retained printed over “Del Monte Ecuador” banana sticker obstruction. Most obstructions fall off shortly after printing, leaving behind a blank area of paper lacking the design, but errors with objects that “stick” to the note and enter circulation are very rare. A few objects seen on other obstruction errors include a band-aid, paper fragments, scotch tape, and wood shavings. United States paper money is essentially printed in three stages: the first printing is the back of the note, the second printing provides the face devices, and the final printing includes both seals and the serial numbers. When this note was printed at the Fort Worth Western Currency Facility, it went through the first and second printings normally before the Del Monte sticker found its way onto the surface. The sticker’s placement is ideal, as it covers part of the second printing details and is overlaid by part of the Treasury Seal and the right serial number from the third printing.

Most would conjecture that this error note was no accident and probably the result of some very bored or creative BEP employee. Its presence in the market place however is not dubious, as it passed through the regular channels of the Federal Reserve before it was released into circulation.

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Seriously, what the hell. This story has everything I could have ever wanted. The only thing left now is an elaborate heist to steal the thing. Who’s in?

Staff writer at The Takeout. Also: Saveur Humor Blog Award Winner, professional pizza maker, and insufferable troublemaker.

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DISCUSSION

Nitelight62
Nitelight62

There’s always money in the banana stand......