Saturday, 7 January 2012

Dugup Coins a Nice Little Earner: 642 "Prospero" Coins make Record $25m

It certainly seems one can "Prosper" selling dugup coins of uncertain origins these days. The collection of 642 rare ancient Greek coins accumulated over three decades by "a British collector" sold by Baldwins broke world records on Wednesday night when it sold for $25m at a New York auction. The seller was supposed to remain nameless, and was code-named "Prospero", but his identity emerged in due course. The coins had reportedly belonged to a collection started by Colonel Reubin [Richard] Seifert (the late architect of London’s controversial Centre Point skyscraper and Tower 42) and continued after his death by his son John, who first sold its English coins and focused on those of ancient Greece and its colonies.
This had been billed as the most valuable and comprehensive grouping of coins from the classical world ever to go on the market. [...] The most expensive lot, a spectacular facing head gold stater featuring the head of a bearded satyr and the figure of a winged griffin, sold for $3.25m – a record for an Ancient Greek coin. The piece came from Pantikapaion, a colony on the Black Sea and has been described by coinage experts as “a masterpiece of Ancient Greek art”.
Pantikapaion is near today's Kerch on the eastern tip of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine. So when and how did this coin leave the region where it was dug up in the hinterland of the colony? How did it end up in the collection in the UK?

Elizabeth Paton, 'Ancient Greek coins fetch record $25m', Financial Times January 6, 2012.

Vignette: Centre Point, London.

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