Friday, 24 September 2010

Munich Coin Dealers and the Bavarian Minister Lecture the US Govermnment

Martin Zeil the Bavarian Minister of Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Transport and Technology sent an official letter to the US State Department declaring Bavaria's opposition (sic) to inclusion of coins in any cultural property MOU the US Government might consider signing with the government of Greece (reference V/1 - 6715/24/1 16.09.2010). What an extraordinary document! The Minister informs the State Department that he opposes the United States government signing any kind of agreement with Greece about the import of illegally exported antiquities from Greece, because:
The proposed restrictions (along for similar ones being considered for Italy) would negatively impact the legitimate numismatic trade between Germany and the United States of America and also people to people contacts between US and German citizens.
The letter was apparently written at the instigation of Dr. Hubert ("cash is beautiful") Lanz, President of The Federation of European Professional Numismatic Associations. The Minister explains that in Germany
there are around 100 auction houses, more than 500 retailers and estimated more than a half million collectors of old coins. Moreover, a considerable number of them are located in Munich, and are engaged in trade with customers the United States.
Let us note: upwards of six hundred coin dealers making lots of money from selling ancient coins, many of them based in Munich. But let us note the implications of this estimate of five hundred thousand collectors, which presumably comes from Dr Lanz. Germany has a population of 82 million, this means that one in 164 is a collector of old coins. The US has a population only four times that - some 310 million - and only 50 000 collectors of ancient coins (one in 6200). So if the supply of illegally exported ancient coins to America is a concern, what about the size of that German market? Minister Ziel then goes on disingenuously to admit:
apart from very few exceptions, no licence or permit is needed in Germany, neither for import to Germany nor for export from Germany of coins. If the import of certain coins into the United States required an export licence granted by authorities of the export country in future, this requirement could not be fulfilled by German retailers. Legal trade would then hardly be possible between Germany and the United States.
Look at that, no paperwork at all involved. The epitome of no-questions-asked antiquity dealing. So basically if you are a Greek looter and have a bucketload of 'hot' coins on your hands, obviously the legislative framework of Mr Zeil's state invites you to stick them in the post or hop on a train and go and see the Münchener Münzmafia. No licences needed for legal trade in Bavaria Minister Zeil says, and what German collectors don't snap up can go straight to the US market without more ado. What a coin looter's paradise Bavaria must be, Mr Zeile must be so proud of his homeland's part in free trade in the world's "liberated" portable antiquities, rivalling the position of Wisconsin. So basically what is the fuss across the Atlantic about the MOU for anyway? Probably most ancient coins illegally exported from Greece coming to the US are not coming from Greek destinations at all, but through Munich ("Moreover, a considerable number of them are located in Munich, and are engaged in trade with customers the United States", I bet).

Mr Zeil, did you fully understand the implications of the letter you signed? Were you made aware of the clause in the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act concerning the alternative to an export licence which applies to goods legitimately on markets outside Greece before the date of the implementation of the Act (CCPIA s. 307[b] [2])?

Vignette: München Kleines Stadtwappen, the Münchner Kindl: a Munchkin lecturing the US Government. What further entertainments will the coineys come up with next? Bottom: Martin Zeile, supporter of Munich's lucrative antiquities market.


Anonymous said...

I do not believe what I read here. Who is this Bavarian officially supporting and sanctioning the looting of sites?

Paul Barford said...

He looks like a coin elf to me.

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.