Sunday 16 January 2011

Coin Dealer in Trouble?

Over on Moneta-L (cross posted to Unidroit-L) is a letter from a Spanish dealer in dugup coins who has a lot on his mind. The seller concerned seems to be D. Antonio Ramón Hinojosa Pareja (Lucerna on eBay) based in the city of Alcalá la Real, Jaén. He writes:
On december 1 I had one of the worse experiences in my life because police come into my home and office searching all the ancient coins I had. They remove all my stock and account balances, documents, pendrives with info and pictures, computers, all my work material. They say that I buy the coins from not legal sellers and suppliers and it is a lie. I always buy my coins from Ancient Auction Houses and I have my invoices and all the info available but they did not listened to me. I have in a judicial process and it is so large here in Spain, maybe it could take more than 2 years in the way and I´m inocent. I´m sure that they finally send me back all but the financial damage is incredible, more than 40.000 euros have been confiscated (coins, computers, material, all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and around 3.500 of my nice late roman coins for clean too. I´m always buying large lots of uncleaned roman coins from Ancient Coins Auction Houses in all Europe and this is my fault!!!!!!!!!!!!! HORRIBLE!! This is an stupid and crazy actuation againt me, maybe a formal complaint of an envious seller?? I do not what happened really but all my coins are blocked and confiscated and the sumary is secret yet. I think that with God help all must to be clare in the next months but I repeat, Justice here in Spain is slow as a tortle.
It is not clear why having merely the invoices from these "ancient coins auction houses" is felt sufficient guarantee the coins are of legal origin. Especially if we are talking about repeated purchases of "large lots of uncleaned Roman coins" (i.e., with the earth still on them). The point is that the due diligence of the ethical buyer needs more proof than they are on sale somewhere. If they are of Balkan origin, for example, the chances are that their origins are questionable.

Whatever the final outcome of this case, it would seem that the complaining dealer was caught up in the Spanish raids I covered last year see here and here and here See also David Gill's coverage here ("This story should alert any coin dealers who have been buying directly or indirectly from Spain"). It is interesting to see Moneta-L and Unidroit-L treating this like some kind of "breaking news", I predicted in December that the usual culprits would try and hush it up.

What is interesting is the topic name given it by the original Monetan-sender "Difficult times for Spanish Coin Dealer - Incredible". As if the coineys believe that buying and selling coins of unclear provenance they would always be beyond the reach of the law. In Spain a major antiquities investigation is taking place and this dealer, who has been buying uncleaned coins with the earth still on them in bulk, is apparently being asked to account for the origins of the material he is selling. If the market was more transparent, there would be no reason for his records being seized and investigated. In any case, as can be seen from his Internet shop, this dealer still continues to trade in ancient and medieval coins, despite the fact that he claims his bulk coins for cleaning are in police custody.

Coin dealer Dave Welsh crossposted this message to his Unidroit-L discussion list warning his predominantly US audience:
This is what would also be happening in the USA, if the AIA and its ideological allies in the State Department have their way.
Quite right too, if the bulk lots turn out to have been looted from archaeological sites somewhere. Why should US dealers get away with dealing in looted and smuggled dugup artefacts if that is what they are in fact doing? I am sure its not just the AIA, I believe that there are some decent people in the USA that would also like to see the no-questions-asked trade in illegally obtained freshly-surfaced ancient artefacts removed from the US market. If there are dodgy dealings going on, then they should be challenged. Why would the more respectable coin dealers of the USA have anything against getting the contaminating cowboy dealers and pirate buyers off the market?

Vignette: Alcalá la Real, Jaén.


Anonymous said...

Wow, serious enforcement of the law. Why this movement in Spain right now ?

Mo said...

Not sure if this is the right posting to make this comment but delete it if you have seen the article already.

In today's Guardian and Times there are articles about the arrest of a man who was trying to load a statue onto a lorry.

This statue is allegedly of the Roman Emperor Caligula.

One of the reports compares the trade in illicit artefacts as being as nasty as drug running

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