Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Caveat Emptor, US getting tough on Illegally Imported Numismatic Items at Last?

It is reported that a US collector has been arrested on stolen property charges for allegedly purchasing a precious Korean artifact considered to be a "national heritage item with significant academic and historical value" that may have been stolen from the country during the Korean War. Won Young Youn was reportedly taken into custody earlier this month and was scheduled to appear before a federal judge in Michigan yesterday. According to the criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court, the Hojo 10-nyang currency plate had been put up for sale by a relative of a deceased veteran who served in the US Marines during the Korean War and was bought from Midwest Auction Galleries in Michigan for $35,000. Youn had reportedly compared acquiring the item to "winning the lottery" because South Korea would likely be willing to negotiate a sale in order to return the item to the country.

The USA has no cultural property MOU with Korea.

The Ancient Coin Collectors' Guild is expected to issue a statement this afternoon expressing outrage that this man's constitutional rights to buy, own and "preserve" numismatic items has been violated with a promise to help fight such an "injustice".

Dan Ivers, 'Feds: Bergen County art collector bought precious artifact stolen from Korea', New Jersey news, January 29, 2013

There are three comments underneath, each revealing in their own way: 
"So what did this guy do wrong here? He bought a rare item from an auction house".
"Didn't Frank Burns do the same thing?"

UPDATE 31.01.13:  Rick St Hilaire also discusses this case (with more detail on the purchase):  "HSI Alleges Receiving Stolen Korean Currency Plate Was Like "Winning a Lottery"
There has been no movement (or even a mention) of this from the ACCG. The latter are thus shown to be all mouth and no trousers.

UPDATE 22.2.2013: St Hilaire has more on the case ["Defendant Cooperates in Korean Currency Plate Case" Thursday, February 21, 2013]. There still has been absolutely no mention of this US numismatic case from the Ancient Coin Collectors' (sic) Guild which is interesting because the latest development is that the collector reportedly is giving evidence aginst the dealer (if true, way to go!).

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