Sunday, 18 November 2012

Buyer of Prospero Collection Coins Reportedly Having Trouble Paying

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Readers of this blog will probably have heard of the so-called "Prospero Collection" about which such a fuss was made a while ago when these coins came up for auction. It was compared to the "legendary Nelson Bunker Hunt Collection of Ancient Coins, sold more than two decades ago in New York":
Put together over several decades with a discerning taste for outstanding examples of the most beautiful and famous ancient Greek coins, the collection has not been added to in the last twenty years and remains complete and untouched.
Long after their sale to other collectors, the story continues. The buyer of some of the items, named as the Qatari sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed Al-Thani (the Second) has reportedly failed to pay for them.  A London High Court judge ruled today that $15m-worth of his assets of must remain frozen as part of the ongoing dispute in a case reportedly brought by the numismatic auctioneers Baldwin’s, Dmitry Markov and M and M Numismatics, who accuse the prominent art collector of owing them £25m (including interest) after defaulting on bids. There is an interesting possibility that as a result of the continuing proceedings we may get to know the owner of this collection (reportedly created by architect Richard [Reuben] Seifert, 1910 – 2001). If what is being rumoured is correct - the answer to this might be very interesting and might once again raise the question about the origins of some of those coins...  Watch this space.

Now we've all heard those idiotic coiney arguments from the US and UK that dugup and dodgy Greek coins are "their heritage", democracy, Renaissance and Enlightenment and all that (minus-the-slavery) word-twistery. I'd like to hear them justify coin collecting in the same way for a Sheikh from Qatar. The  links between modern Qatari culture and ancient Greece seem very tenuous to me - somebody please explain them (while they are at it, I'd be interested in hearing about the connections between Qatari culture and the nudey statue - the Jenkins Venus which he is also said to have bought).  If the Sheikh is buying these items as somewhat dubious trophies, why are the others not doing the same? 

Riah Pryor, 'Asset freeze on bid-defaulting Sheikh extended by London judge', The Art Newspaper Online  9th November 2012

Vignette: the cash-strapped Sheikh with expensive tastes in coins of unclear collecting pedigrees
hat tip to PhDiva

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