PIMCO's Gross stamps earn $1.5 million for charity

Wed May 19, 2010 4:49pm EDT
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By Walden Siew

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - PIMCO's Bill Gross, manager of the world's largest mutual fund, sold $1.5 million worth of his rare European stamps on Wednesday to benefit Doctors Without Borders.

A pair of 1849 French stamps, with one of them printed upside down, drew the biggest single bid of $190,000 from an unknown buyer during an auction in New York. Only four such "tete-beche" pairs are known to be in mint condition.

Gross, founder and co-chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Co (PIMCO), a unit of Munich-based insurer Allianz, Europe's biggest insurer, has held on to the collection for about 15 years, he said.

"I'm selling my fabulous French and French colonies collection," Gross said prior to the auction. "I'm parting with old friends but for a good cause."

Charles Shreve, president of Spink Shreves Galleries which ran the auction, said the stamps drew large international interest from buyers in Europe, Asia and the United States.

Irwin Weinberg, 82, a stamp dealer from Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, bought about $100,000 worth of stamps, which he intends to resell.

Weinberg, a stamp collector for more than six decades, once owned the 1856 one-cent "Black on Magenta" stamp of British Guiana, considered the rarest stamp in the world.

Weinberg bought that stamp in 1970 for $280,000, he said, and sold it 10 years later for about $1 million.   Continued...

<p>This envelope, mailed in August 1900 from a German government office in China, has one Chinese postage stamp and two German stamps overprinted with the word ''CHINA'', seen in this undated photograph released on April 22, 2010. REUTERS/Spink Shreves Galleries/Handout</p>