Saturday 7 July 2012

Bizarre Weiss Thread on Moneta-L

Collectors of ancient dugup coins are bizarre folk. Witness an ongoing thread on Moneta-L where New York dugup antiquity dealer Alfredo De La Fe is is going to try to defend the innocence of fellow dealer Anrnlod-Peter Weiss, who inconveniently pleaded guilty to attempted possession of stolen goods and selling fakes. Coineys are attempting to explain away what little they know of why three coins were condemned as fakes, from what little they know of the science behind the analyses. Like supporters of the Turin Shroud they stubbornly insist on the possibility that scientists had made erroneous observations.

I was a bit taken aback to see this comment from a Florida dealer that I will (with difficulty) refrain from naming  other than observe that he is an ANA Life Member and a 'Member of VCoins':
If the coins are fake, what did he plead to? What crime would there be if they are fake?
So this dealer does not see the selling of fake coins as authentic a crime? Caveat emptor.  Likewise  Dealer Alfie apparently does not like the charges. He feels awkward in New York perhaps preferring his native Cuba: "New York is a strange beast. It is illegal to THINK about doing something illegal here under certain circumstances...". He perhaps hankers for places where planning to kill, rob or cheat somebody is not a crime.  He seems to believe that Weiss has "flipped" (cooperating the authorities and testifying against others) while plea bargaining to avoid a prison sentence in some kind of a "deal":
His choices were to fight a good fight while spending hundreds of thousands on a legal defense and still risk losing, becoming a felon and potentially losing his license to practice medicine, job and teaching position or plead guilty to a misdemeanor, pay a fine, do some community service and lose a million bucks.
(I note that in response to that first part of the quote, collector Kyrie replies "no, his choices were not to deal in such material". That went down like a tonne of bricks with the coineys).  Dealer Alfie objects to comments that Weiss was a dealer ("Weiss is/was a collector, not a dealer"). I suppose being a partner in a major auction house and putting coins up for auction is not enough to qualify one as a dealer any more. He also suggests that the report of a recorded admission that one of the coins was freshly dug might not represent the whole truth. After all, who would admit it to a client? ("I seriously doubt that a serious dealer would brag that the coin was dug up yesterday"- most of them have a professional practice of not stating anything about what they know of the origins of the material they sell, Mr De La Fe is describing the essence of no-questions-asked antiquities dealing, admit nothing):
The dealer he allegedly purchased the coins from [...] I really doubt he would make a statement that he knew the coin had been dug up recently, etc. If HE would not say this, how could Weiss have this knowledge? [...]  There is often more to a story than what we hear.
Which is precisely why this investigation needs to be continued. Where did those coins surface, and how did they enter the US? Meanwhile,  most dealers are just ignoring the whole thing and pretending that it had never happened.

Vignette:  Puzzled look


Alfredo De La Fe said...

I was not born in Cuba, I was born in New Jersey and raised in NY from the age of two. My father was born in Cuba.

As for your other comments, please at least make an attempt to get the basic facts straight. I have never implied that Weiss "flipped" and became an informant "cooperating with the authorities")

I can certainly see how you would have a problem with my position on the legal issues. Based on your arguments over the years it is clear that you have communist ideaological views. (Which is your right) But the majority of Western society does not share your political idealogy.

Paul Barford said...

I do apologise, back on Unidrot-L I am sure you referred to yourself as "Cuban".

I do generally try to get my facts straight. I cannot see the place on the thread where you say you are sure Weiss had not come to an agreement with the authorities in the places where this was being discussed. Perhaps you need to clarify that. You seem to be saying that he did, to cut legal costs.

I really do not see on what basis you characterise my political views as "communist". I observe however that in certain Glennbeckian circles that word is over-used for anything and anybody more liberal than Gengis Khan, and I assume that this is the sense in which you are using it. I would say many in western (central and eastern) Europe shares the sort of views I have about US imperialism, neo-colonialism and all the rest of the negative features displayed by the US collectors and SELLERS of dugup bits of the archaeological heritage from other people's territory.

I suspect your "position" on the legal issues is primarily founded on your "position" as a fellow dugup coin dealer rather than any specific underlying political ideology.

Paul Barford said...

Does the notion of Weiss cooperating with the authorities worry you Mr De La Fe? Have you sold him any coins, or bought any from him?

By the way, of course anyone who wants to see if I "got the facts right" can follow my link and see the whole Moneta-L thread. Let them see what you are all openly and transparently discussing over there.

Alfredo De La Fe said...

Never sold a coin to Weiss. The closest I came to "knowing him" is passing him in a corridor at a coin show.

What I did write is that in such circumstances our legal system "STRONGLY encourages" pleading guilty to a lesser charge. In the case of Weiss, he could very well be as guilty as sin, but based on the [lack of] evidence made public I would not jump to any conclusions just because he accepted a plea agreement which he really did not have much of a choice in accepting. (Sure, he could spend his life savings on legal fees, risk being found guilty, etc.)

I am not a fan of Glenn Beck or Michael Moore for that matter. I tend to think of myself as someone that can think for himself and do not allow extremists to force feed me lies, half truths or the views of one specific group.

My views tend to run on the conservative side. But I also feel that certain personal rights trump the wants of the state. I also believe that the view you try to force feed people in Glennbeckian fashion of a black and white view that anything old in the ground belongs to the state, property owner or finder be damned, is one which has ZERO hope of success. Let's look at the most extreme scenario- if EVERY nation decided to enact a death penalty for not turning in finds people would still be out looking and land owners that found stuff on their land would just bury it again until they found a way to get something for it. It is human nature and has been since the first man found a bee hive and wanted to get at the bees honey... The ancient Egyptians had pretty horrible penalties for ACTUAL looting, yet people still looted. Now look at it from a modern perspective- most rational people do not view a chance find or finding something that does not have a living owner or that is even known to exist as looting.

I always follow the law in business. But it does not mean I have to agree with them or that I will remain silent. Go ahead and twist my words above as I am sure that yo will...

Paul Barford said...

"I tend to think of myself as someone that can think for himself and do not allow extremists to force feed me lies, half truths or the views of one specific group."
But you belong to and support the ACCG, no?

As for penalties not working.... Seducing other people's spouses has been around for a long time too, but you find adultery a lot less frequent than in America in countries which have harsh penalties for it. Probably that works too for stealing cars, drug smuggling and a whole lot of other things, why not looting archaeological sites?

The Ancient Egypt argument is a well-worn trope, but in fact you misrepresent the situation. I suggest you read up on it before using the argument again.

"I always follow the law in business".
I assume Dr Weiss would have made the same assertion. Would you say, compared to your own business practice that he did not? What do you do differently?

HAVE I "twisted" your words?

Alfredo De La Fe said...

Are you seriously using adultury as an example to make your argument? It actually is a PERFECT example- In Islamic countries that interpret Sharia in a very extreme way, the penalty for adultry is extremely harsh. But they also go to great extremes to limit the rights of WOMAN so that they do not have an opportunity to commit adultry AND woman are regularly (falsely) accused of adultry and men are rarely prosecuted unless they manage to get at another man's wife and he actually cares enough to do more than just have her stoned to death. So, you would have the rights of land owners, finders, collectors and dealers completely stripped away and give the authority to those you deem fit?

The ancient Egyptian argument is a pretty strong one, considering that during the New Kingdom they went through great lengths to MOVE the mummies from the Valley of the Kings.

There is ample evidence of a problem with looting. (i.e.: Papyrus of the Grave Robber, etc.)

A neat website:

I support most, if not all, of the official views of the ACCG. (There have been a few members that have gone "too far" and I would classify them the way I classify you- extremists)

Paul Barford said...

Well, now who is twisting words?

As I said, take a bit of trouble and do some WIDER reading of the tomb robbing question.

I really do not think it is particularly "extreme" to want to see the no-questions-asked market in antiquities clean up its act. I bet its what a lot of (truly) responsible collectors would like.

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