Celltex’s venture raises some of the most vexing, emotional issues in the business of medicine. Stem cells hold enormous promise, but promise isn’t proof, and anecdotal evidence isn’t science. Small companies often can’t do the research required by the FDA and make money at the same time. Some patients will pay to be part of an experiment, but many doctors and regulators don’t think they should. In Texas the science of stem cells has collided with a governor’s ambitions, a businessman’s optimism, a doctor’s faith, and patients’ hopes. “It seemed too good to be true,” Johnson says, “and it was.”
The most valuable coin in the world sits in the lobby of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in lower Manhattan. It’s Exhibit 18E, secured in a bulletproof glass case with an alarm system and an armed guard nearby. The 1933 Double Eagle, considered one of the rarest and most beautiful coins in America, has a face value of $20—and a market value of $7.6 million. It was among the last batch of gold coins ever minted by the U.S. government. The coins were never issued; most of the nearly 500,000 cast were melted down to bullion in 1937.
Most, but not all. Some of the coins slipped out of the Philadelphia Mint before then. No one knows for sure exactly how they got out or even how many got out. The U.S. Secret Service, responsible for protecting the nation’s currency, has been pursuing them for nearly 70 years, through 13 Administrations and 12 different directors. The investigation has spanned three continents and involved some of the most famous coin collectors in the world, a confidential informant, a playboy king, and a sting operation at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan. It has inspired two novels, two nonfiction books, and a television documentary. And much of it has centered around a coin dealer, dead since 1990, whose shop is still open in South Philadelphia, run by his 82-year-old daughter.
The death of Adrienne Martin is the latest twist in a saga that has transfixed St. Louis. The Busches and their beer company had survived Prohibition, labor strikes, and price wars, growing to operate 12 breweries around the country, producing 128 million barrels of beer in 2007 and taking in nearly $17 billion in revenue. The red, white, and blue Budweiser can is practically synonymous with America itself. But at a crucial time, the company failed to adapt to a changing market, leaving it weakened and vulnerable to a foreign takeover. And it was August Busch IV, the last member of the family to lead the brewery, who was there when it all came apart. Martin’s overdose represented not just the darkest moment in Busch’s turbulent life. It also signaled the unraveling of one of America’s most storied families, their business empire, and the city their money had helped build.