April 04, 2023 2 min read
Monday Morning Brief for April 3, 2023: Arrest a wake-up call
By William T. Gibbs , Coin World, Published: Apr 3, 2023, 7 AM
The news that a dealer in ancient coins was arrested and charged by New York officials with criminal acts involving an extremely rare gold ancient coin should be a wake-up call on several levels.
At the heart of the criminal case are allegations that a false provenance was developed for the third known gold example of an EID MAR aureus so that it would be viewed as legitimate in the marketplace. The importance of the coin cannot be overstated and the results show that — it realized $4,188,393 at an Oct. 29, 2020, auction by Roma Numismatic Limited in London, and on Nov. 29, 2020, it was shipped from London to New York, where the country of origin was listed as Italy on the customs paperwork.
The auction lot description for the coin claimed that it was from the collection “of Bernard de Chambrier (1878–1963) and Marie Alvine Irma von Bonstetten (1893–1968); Ex collection of the Baron Gustave Charles Ferdinand von Bonstetten, Chamberlain to Ferdinand I, Emperor of Austria.” However, when the coin first surfaced at a New York coin convention in 2015, it was allegedly presented as being from “an old Swiss collection,” which according to a special agent for Homeland Security, “is coded language within the antiquities trade, signaling to potential buyers that a coin lacks prior verifiable provenance.”
The creation of a provenance that authorities say is false and its alleged looting has had real-life consequences. Richard Beale, managing director of Roma, was arrested in New York City in January and has been charged with multiple crimes (see news coverage here) involving the coin and its sale.