By Jennifer Ablan
(Reuters) - Bill Gross, who heads the world's largest mutual fund, will offer some items from his rare U.S. stamp collection for the first time in a public auction conservatively estimated to bring $1.5 million to $2 million.
All proceeds from the April 9 sale, which takes place in New York, will be donated by Gross and his wife, Sue, to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the Millennium Villages Project at Columbia University's Earth Institute.
"This is the first time Mr. Gross has ever offered stamps from his famous U.S. collection which is the finest, most valuable collection of U.S. stamps and postal history owned by a private individual," said professional philatelist Charles Shreve, who will conduct the auction with his ex-wife, Tracy Shreve. The Shreves have advised Gross, whose net worth is over $2.3 billion according to Forbes magazine, for two decades.
Gross, who as founder and co-chief investment officer oversees $2 trillion at bond firm PIMCO and runs the PIMCO Total Return Fund, is auctioning off some items that date back to 1847, the first year the United States issued postage stamps.
One of the postal history items is a letter mailed in 1851 with an 1847 10-cent stamp neatly cut in half and used in place of a five-cent stamp. It has an estimated value of $15,000 to $20,000.
Another up for auction is a four-page letter with early Hawaiian and U.S. postage stamps that was written and mailed from Honolulu in 1854 by Maria Whitney Pogue, the first missionary child born in Hawaii. It is estimated at $50,000 to $70,000.
Gross, whose mom collected stamps in the late 1930s in anticipation of her three kids going to college, said in a statement: "It's my hope that a new generation of collectors will carry on deriving the same great pleasure from these items that I enjoy."
Gross's stamp collection will be auctioned at the Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries (www.SiegelAuctions.com) in New York City.
(Reporting by Jennifer Ablan; editing by Andrew Hay)