A dozen $20 bills from the infamous 1971 D. B. Cooper skyjacking will be offered to the public for the first time in June by Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas, Texas. The notes are owned by Brian Ingram, 36, of Mena, Ark., who was eight years old in 1980 when he found the only ransom money ever discovered from the still-unsolved skyjacking.
“The serial numbers all match the FBI’s list of $20 bills given to the skyjacker known as D.B. Cooper who parachuted from a jetliner with the cash somewhere between Seattle, Wash., and Reno, Nev., during a rainstorm on Nov. 24, 1971. Some of these tattered notes have the initials of investigators who examined the recovered money after Ingram found it along the banks of the Columbia River near Vancouver, Wash., in February 1980,” said Steve Ivy, co-chairman of Heritage and a long-time paper money collector.
The D.B. Cooper cash will be offered as part of a big auction of Americana memorabilia in Dallas and online, June 13-14.
Ingram said the money almost didn’t survive its discovery. “We were going to make a fire along the river bank,” Ingram recalled. “I was on my hands and knees smoothing out the sand with my arm, and I uncovered three bundles of money just below the surface. My uncle thought we should throw it in the fire.”
Ingram found approximately $5,800 of the $200,000 ransom given to the skyjacker, and the FBI later returned a small portion to his family.
Ingram owns 84 D.B. Cooper bills and fragments.
“Fifteen of the $20 denomination bills will be offered to the public for the first time in the upcoming auction. His decision to sell the notes was made several weeks before the recent discovery of what may be the skyjacker’s parachute. The coincidental timing couldn’t be better,” said Ivy.
The recovered ransom notes were authenticated in February and placed into protective, archival storage holders by PCGS Currency, a Santa Ana, Calif., paper money authentication service. Each holder has a label with the FBI’s 1971 artist’s sketch of the sunglasses-wearing skyjacking suspect who has still not been found.
Anyone with information about the skyjacking is encouraged to contact the FBI’s Seattle office by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information about the auction will be available from Heritage Auction Galleries, online at www.HA.com, and by phone at 800-872-6467.