Beautifully engraved certificate from the Palmer Union Oil Company
in 1913. This historic document has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of an oil field. This item is hand signed by the Company’s President and Secretary and is
over 89 years old.
Company History for the lawsuit was performed by OldCompany.com
stock certificate research service)
George Soros and John Paulson may have to make room for the
late Tony Marohn, who possibly pulled off one of the
greatest financial trades ever -- at an estate sale.
Marohn's family claims it is owed a $130 million stake in
Coca-Cola Co after Marohn bought an antique Palmer Union Oil
Co stock certificate in 2008 for a "nominal amount," Marohn
family attorney David Margules said on Thursday.
Marohn traced Palmer Union Oil to Coca-Cola, by way of
long-forgotten companies such as Petrocarbon Chemicals Inc
and Taylor Wine Co, according to court documents.
Marohn died in 2010, and but his family in California has
taken on the legal battle with Coca-Cola Co, saying it is
entitled to about 1.8 million shares of the soft-drink
But before the family buys that vacation home in Aspen,
they'll have to convince a skeptical Delaware Chancery Court
judge that the law is on their side.
"This is a new version of the Beverly Hillbillies," Judge
Leo Strine said at a hearing on January 31, according to a
court transcript. He was referring to a 1960s television
comedy about a backwoods family that becomes rich by finding
oil on their property.
If upheld, Marohn's estate would become among the largest
non-institutional investors in Coca-Cola, according to
"The claim of Mr. Marohn's estate that it is entitled to
millions of dollars in Coca-Cola stock - based on a canceled
stock certificate for a long-defunct oil company purchased
at an estate sale - is meritless and unfair to the Company's
millions of legitimate shareholders," said a Thursday
statement from Coca-Cola.
Bob Kerstein, who runs the scripophily.com website, which
researches and sells antique stock certificates, said he
gets lots of inquiries from people who want to redeem old
"We get people who have blank stock certificates and they
think they have hit the lotto," said Kerstein. He said he
has to break the news to them they need to be on record with
the company as well.
Margules, the Wilmington, Delaware, attorney for Marohn's
estate, said he thinks he can persuade Strine that the law
favors his client. Marohn's certificate was endorsed and
assigned, but the transferee was left blank.
Marohn filled in his name and began digging through
corporate records. He eventually wrote to Coca-Cola to
demand 1.8 million shares of common stock for his 1,625
Palmer Union Oil shares.
The company refused, and sued Marohn in Delaware's
Chancery Court in 2009 seeking a declaration he was not
entitled to the company's stock.
Marohn's estate filed papers last week showing courts
have upheld that a person who was issued a stock certificate
and then endorsed and assigned it -- but left blank the name
of the transferee -- essentially transformed the certificate
into a bearer stock. By writing his name on the stock,
Marohn became the legal owner, his estate argued.
Strine said in January he would soon decide how to
proceed. He also warned the Marohn estate against pursuing
"a drive by of a public company" to extract money to drop
"It's just not a sport," Strine said.
The case is In Re Shares of Common Stock of the Coca-Cola
Company, Delaware Chancery Court, No. 5156.
(Reporting By Tom Hals, editing by M.D. Golan)