Friday 21 September 2012

Three ex-Weiss coins

A while ago I was covering the Peter Weiss story. There was some confusion about which coins had been seized in the saleroom and why. There were some details missing, like why earlier accounts refer to two coins being seized, while later ones tell us there were three:
1) a 4th century BC silver tetradrachm from Katane, Cabinet W lot 1009; Weiss said he had bought the coin in 2001 for $250,000 and hoped to sell if for $350,000, the complaint says, and that he knew it had been freshly excavated at the time he bought it. This was the only coin mentioned in the original complaint (undated but publicised by Chasing Aphrodite on Jan 11th 2012).
2) According to Coin World, a second coin was seized: a 4th century BC silver decadrachm from Akragas (Cabinet W lot 1008). This is not mentioned on the 11th January complaint.
3) Now thanks to the ANS Magazine (2012 number 3) we know that the third coin was a very similar, but less worn decadrachm from Akragas. Weiss had two of these coins and kept the best one for himself. This third coin was not in the cabinet W sale - so where and when was it seized? Where did Weiss get two of these coins from? A clue might be that on page 39 of the accompanying text he says that forgeries such as this are often mixed in with genuine coins smuggled from the source country representing a clandestinely-excavated hoard. Are there other coins which came onto the market at the same time from this hoard, and how many among them are also skilful fakes?

More exciting is that the photos of the three coins accompany the  'caveat emptor' article by Weiss which he wrote as part of his plea deal - more about that soon. 

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