Tuesday, 7 March 2023

Beware the Ides of March

"Our commitment to ethical and responsible provenance:
 the consignor affirms that this auction lot is their lawful 
property to sell, and where cultural property restrictions
may exist, that it meets the requirements to be 
imported into the United States and Germany
unless specifically stated otherwise.
Roma Numismatics.

It is being reported that the coin dealer Richard Beale principal of London-based Roma Numismatics, was arrested at the New York International Numismatic Convention on January 10th, 2023. It seems this information has only emerged now with some bizarre posts on Reddit. This is alleged to be in connection with a Naxos tetradrachm that his company sold in 2020, stating it had been in the collection of a Swiss nobleman Baron Gustave Charles Ferdinand von Bonstetten. This coin has just now been repatriated (Press Release, 'D.A. Bragg Returns 14 Stolen Antiquities to Italy' February 2, 2023)

The Sicily Naxos Coin. Minted circa 430 B.C.E in the Greek colony of Naxos, on Sicily, this silver coin features the bearded Dionysus on one side and his squatting drinking partner, Silenus, on the reverse. The Sicily Naxos Coin first surfaced on the international art market in 2013, when a known trafficker offered the coin for sale with no provenance whatsoever. Prior to its appearance at a London-based auction house, a co-conspirator of the trafficker supplied false provenance for the coin. The Sicily Naxos Coin is currently valued at $500,000 and was among a group of coins seized at JFK airport as it was being smuggled into New York pursuant to an ongoing joint investigation between this Office, HSI, and Italy. At least one individual has been arrested in the course of this investigation with more to follow.
For several days, a statement of facts signed by one of the HSI Special Agents (Brenton Easter) has been circulating in some US numismatic communities. In it are a number of details that would be highly disturbing if true. According to this material, the defendant has actually admitted to what he is accused of doing both in the case of the Naxos tetradrachm but also several other coin sales. The material referred to is currently available here. Page 3 makes reference to payment to somebody for the false provenance ("The defendant admitted to me that he paid for the provenance"). It is not clear who "sold" this provenance. The dealer claims that this was the first time he'd "bought a provenance", not that the coins he sells are actually overabundant in provenance and collection histories. 
What is more interesting is that the document gives details of several other actors caught up in this investigation. Also another coin, the gold EID MAR issue that I wrote about earlier (there are six posts on the Gaza Hoard here). It seems that the former was bought by a US collector  and was shipped to the US on 29th Nov. 2020 (i.e., a month after the auction), and that US Customs seized the Eid Mar then.

Mr Beale's next court appointment is 8th May (postponed from 8th March). I bet a 'slapped wrist' plea deal is being put together, it seems the dealer is being quite cooperative with US authorities. What is odd is that the Naxos coin has already been repatriated (or is in the process of being) while it is also evidence in the ongoing Beale trial which should establish whether the dealer was guilty or not in the case against him, involving this coin.
hat tip: Lynda Albertson

No comments:

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