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Numismatic and History Discussions => Ancient Coin Forum => Topic started by: byzcoll on January 04, 2012, 07:30:22 am



Title: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: byzcoll on January 04, 2012, 07:30:22 am
Hi,

this morning (4-JAN-2012), just hours before the auction (Triton XV, lots 1001-2000), the New York district attorney entered the CNG showroom and seized two coins of the Cabinet W collection. No reasons whatsoever were given by the attorney, they just took the coins.

Both coins are masterpieces from Sicily: Lot 1008, a Dekadrachm (Akragas) with a start price of $2.5 million and Lot 1009, a Tetradrachm (Katane) with a start price of $ 300,000.

This is quite a thing and we as collectors should follow the news about what is going on there.

byzcoll


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Optimo Principi on January 04, 2012, 09:21:47 am
How intriguing. The coins can be seen in the electronic brochure, here -

http://www.cngcoins.com/About+Affiliated+|Auctions.aspx (http://www.cngcoins.com/About+Affiliated+Auctions.aspx)

That Dekadrachm really is astounding and it gives details as to its providence, there doesn't seem to be anything chequered in either coins' history but who knows.

T


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Optimo Principi on January 04, 2012, 09:28:59 am
British Newspaper story on the coin in question (below)....

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2070476/Ancient-Greek-coin-valued-cool-2MILLION-set-auction.html (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2070476/Ancient-Greek-coin-valued-cool-2MILLION-set-auction.html)


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: bpmurphy on January 04, 2012, 12:49:10 pm
Actually the coins were seized yesterday afternoon, not this morning and it was the NY DA and Homeland Security who seized the coins. No excuses were given. I was in the hall outside the viewing room when they showed up.

Just speculation but I'd guess that the Italian government saw the coins in the sale and has decided to make a claim that they had title to the coins.

Unfortunately in these cases, the Italian government is not required to show proof of ownership, but the current owners will be required to show provenance and proof of ownership. So the current owners are guilty until proven innocent, not the other way around as it should be.

Barry Murphy


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: byzcoll on January 04, 2012, 01:53:40 pm
Dear Barry,

I mixed up the time of confiscation and the time I heard the anouncement of the auctioneer prior to the opening of the session.

Your thoughts make very much sense: The two confiscated coins are the only two in the Cabinet W from a mint on current Italian territory, which have a purely private pedigree, never channeled through an auction house. The Deka is declared to have been "in an English collection in London in the 1960s".

byzcoll



Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: byzcoll on January 05, 2012, 03:42:59 am
Hi,

I just found, that this thread is called "some insubstantial chat on some coin discussion lists" by a blogger (http://paul-barford.blogspot.com/). However, most of the blogger's text consists of a copy and paste of my starting post.

It is really funny how some people judge on others and how they act at the same time. Makes me smile.

byzcoll


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: 4to2CentBCphilia on January 06, 2012, 07:12:23 am
Regarding anonymous collections, the Financial Times did some digging.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/beed860e-2cb4-11e1-8cca-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1igeQVHJw

Cabinet W is Dr Peter Weiss USA

This may have been in the catalog, but the catalog has been pulled off the CNG website, so I can't check.

I am guessing it is the same Peter Weiss noted here

http://numismatics.org/About/2011Nominations


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on January 06, 2012, 07:28:16 am
Regarding anonymous collections, the Financial Times did some digging.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/beed860e-2cb4-11e1-8cca-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1igeQVHJw

Cabinet W is Dr Peter Weiss USA

This may have been in the catalog, but the catalog has been pulled off the CNG website, so I can't check.

I am guessing it is the same Peter Weiss noted here

http://numismatics.org/About/2011Nominations

4to2CentBCphilia

Would you mind posting the text of the FT article. It is behind a pay-firewall for me (and presumably for others too) and I can't view the article.

Andrew


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: 4to2CentBCphilia on January 06, 2012, 07:37:58 am
Regarding anonymous collections, the Financial Times did some digging.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/beed860e-2cb4-11e1-8cca-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1igeQVHJw

Cabinet W is Dr Peter Weiss USA

This may have been in the catalog, but the catalog has been pulled off the CNG website, so I can't check.

I am guessing it is the same Peter Weiss noted here

http://numismatics.org/About/2011Nominations

4to2CentBCphilia

Would you mind posting the text of the FT article. It is behind a pay-firewall for me (and presumably for others too) and I can't view the article.

Andrew


Here you go. BTW I got to it thru Google

 http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/beed860e-2cb4-11e1-8cca-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz1igmEkvvu


Greek coin lot set to fetch millions
By Susan Moore
While investors across the globe are preoccupied by the fate of Greece’s currency, a British collection of just a few hundred Greek coins is predicted to fetch millions of dollars when auctioned next month in New York.

Described by Paul Hill of Baldwin’s, the London coin dealer, as “the most important collection of ancient Greek coins to appear on the market in almost a quarter of a century”, the 642-piece Prospero Collection will go under the hammer on January 4.

Arguably the rarest and most spectacular coin in the collection is the facing head gold stater of Pantikapaion, a colony on the Black Sea. An example has not been seen at auction in living memory, and the coin bears a conservative estimate of $650,000.

Struck in the 4th century BC, the coin depicts a satyr or wild man of the woods, wide-eyed and dishevelled; on the reverse is a griffin standing on an ear of grain – a symbol of the city’s wealth.

The collection is one of several due to be auctioned at the New York International Numismatic Convention between December 31 and January 9. Kevin Foley, the convention’s chairman, said there was “a realistic chance” that its nine participating auction houses staging 16 sessions of sales would realise $100m.

The week’s star lot is a masterpiece of late 5th century Greek art, the so-called “dekadrachm of Akragas”. Produced in Sicily, the coin appears to celebrate the victory of Exainetos, a citizen of Akragas, who won the chariot race of Olympia in 412BC.

Only 12 such coins are known and this example has a starting bid of $2.5m.

“There have never been so many top quality ancient coins on the market,” said Tom Eden, of London auctioneers Eden & Morton. “It is a sign that the market is very strong.”

The dekadrachm of Akragas is from the “Selections from Cabinet W”, a group of 18 Greek coins belonging to Dr Peter Weiss, a US collector. It will also be sold on January 4.

While Baldwin’s declined to reveal the identity of the Prospero Collection’s owner, it is known in numismatic circles to have been begun by Colonel Richard Seifert, the late architect of London’s controversial Centre Point skyscraper and Tower 42.

After inheriting the collection Col Seifert’s son, John, sold its English coins and focused on those of ancient Greece and its colonies, a coinage unsurpassed in the beauty and artistry of its manufacture.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on January 06, 2012, 08:04:08 am
Thank you. This is apparently a pre-seizure article (so to speak). It will be curious to see post-seizure articles as they are published.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: byzcoll on January 06, 2012, 12:12:59 pm
I quietly assumed that P. Weiss is an elderly collector, but my assumption has been completely wrong:

http://www.universityorthopedics.com/doctor.asp?id=26

byzcoll


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: byzcoll on January 07, 2012, 04:27:25 pm
Hi,

there may be several possibilities. One is that in such cases goods can be seized on the basis of a civil case, where the attorney may show a warrant but no cause. On the evidence a criminal case can be built after the fact. Alternatively, the goods can be seized directly in a criminal case.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There are even more possibilities because of very special legislation:

http://www.coinworld.com/articles/accg-loses-test-case-involving-coin-imports/

This basically says, that coins can be seized under presidential order, authorized by congress. If customs does not follow the correct procedures, there is not much one can do, because there is no court which can be appealed to. Thus one has very limited rights here. "Judge Blake cited Sayles’ failure to exhaust administrative remedies through the Department of Homeland Security as the reason." Thus, one has to go through all possible procedures in the bureaucracy and outside of the court and hope for the best.
This also means that such MOUs make it virtually impossible to import coins to the USA, which fall under a MOU, but have been legally and rightfully bought on the open market outside of the country of the MOU.

byzcoll


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: GMoneti on January 09, 2012, 02:34:23 pm
New article about this case came out today at Coin World:

http://www.coinworld.com/articles/officials-seize-two-ancient-coins-at-nyinc/

Reasons for seizures unclear

But exactly who seized the coins, and why they targeted Weiss (who is a partner in Nomos AG), is unclear. Despite multiple telephone calls to law enforcement agencies in the New York City area, Coin World has been unable to confirm the identities of the authorities making the seizures and detaining Weiss.

Alan Walker, director of Nomos, said: “All the coins are in the U.S. legally. All of the coins left Europe legally. It was all handled 100 percent by the law, as far as we know.”

Later, Walker added, “He [Weiss] has very good legal counsel and is 100 percent innocent.”

Dr. Weiss is a world renowned hand surgeon, a professor of orthopedics at Brown University School of Medicine and Rhode Island Hospital, both in Providence, R.I.

He is also a trustee of the American Numismatic Society.

Victor England Jr., senior director of CNG, confirmed that several officials who identified themselves as representatives of the Department of Homeland Security and the New York County District Attorney’s Office entered the lot viewing room while CNG was conducting other auction sessions and escorted Weiss out, and at the same time seized the two lots.

Tracy Goldman, spokeswoman for New York County District Attorney (Manhattan) Cyrus R. Vance Jr., told Coin World Jan. 6 that the office does not comment on cases, and would not confirm or deny England’s statement.


As mentioned, nobody has given an official explanation yet, so it's hard to judge at this point, however the reality of law enforcement (DHS even) marching in and seizing ancient coins and arresting people seems more akin to what has been going on in many "source" countries, but it would've seem far-fetched in the US, even a few years ago.  Times are changing I suppose.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Mat on January 11, 2012, 04:30:31 pm
Looks like he knew it was looted.

http://chasingaphrodite.com/2012/01/11/exclusive-nyc-da-says-prominent-surgeon-knew-he-was-selling-looted-coin/ (http://chasingaphrodite.com/2012/01/11/exclusive-nyc-da-says-prominent-surgeon-knew-he-was-selling-looted-coin/)


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: ancientdave on January 11, 2012, 07:20:25 pm
If this report is true, and that's a big IF, what a terrible blow this will be to our cause. If we are unfairly tarnished here by greed, arrogance and lack of diligence by an elite few, I for one am going to be pretty upset. If this report is untrue, boy that is one arrogant D.A. and some serious gun jumping by DHS. Either way, this whole thing is just depressing. I fear this could be the catalyst for the typical knee-jerk human minds of the masses, which we have been working hard to educate, for condemning us all en masse. Nuance is a tough sell, and it may have just gotten a hell of alot tougher.  :(


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on January 12, 2012, 07:34:39 am
Hi,

so someone has made the original complaint of the DA public. Such documents are actually confidential, and this may cause a problem for the guy, who has posted it in the internet under his real name (Jason Felch, chasingaphrodite.com).

I have the impression that the following is a public document: it looks like a statement made to court.

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/283116-nyc-vs-weiss.html

I see no confidentiality restriction on it. Even if it is intended as confidential, given that Jason Felch "is an award-winning investigative reporter at the Los Angeles Times" I doubt he is the slightest bit concerned. Writing such exposes is routine for an investigative journalist. If they could protect themselves from Richard Nixon I doubt they are worried about the numismatic community.

Felch's book, Chasing Aphrodite, is terrific by the way, and well balanced. It uncovers a trail of blatent criminality involving mainly the Met and the Getty. Many people went to prison, negotiated plea bargains, were sued in civil courts, and spent years upon years in Italian courts, and countless stolen and looted objects were returned. Those affected included senior representives of the museums, auction houses and antiquities trade, as well as middle-men and excavators. It was the actual criminal behaviour of these museum-gods that led to all the problems with those pesky MOUs today - nothing to do with innocent collecting of low value coins by the mass of collectors. A reason the focus is so much on the US is that European museums almost entirely said "no thanks" to the same pieces that the Met and Getty said "yes please" to.

As noted before on this thread, despite the above document we don't yet know both sides of the Weiss story. All may well in the end have been done above board and legally.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Dino on January 12, 2012, 08:37:23 am
Hi,

so someone has made the original complaint of the DA public. Such documents are actually confidential, and this may cause a problem for the guy, who has posted it in the internet under his real name (Jason Felch, chasingaphrodite.com).

I have the impression that the following is a public document: it looks like a statement made to court.

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/283116-nyc-vs-weiss.html


Unless sealed by the court, once the criminal complaint is filed and the defendant arrested, then the document is part of the public record.

Relevant excerpts:

Quote
Investigator John Freck, shield 178 of the New York County District Attorney's Office, states as follows:

***

the defendant knowingly possessed stolen property with a value in excess of 50,000 dollars with intent to benefit a person than an owner of the property and to impede recovery by an owner thereof. The offenses were committed under the following circumstances: Deponent states that at the date, time, and place of occurrence, deponent observed defendant in possession of a 4th century BC silver coin, called a Tetradrachm. Deponent also observed that the defendant was attempting to sell the same for approximately $300,000 under catalogue number 1009 in an auction defendant was conducting at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

***

Deponent is informed by a confidential informant whose identity is known to the District Attorney's Office that the defendant told this informant that for coin 1009, "there's no paperwork, I know this is a fresh coin, this was dug up a few years ago...This was dug up two years ago. I know where this came from." Deponent also listened to a recording of this conversation. Deponent is also informed by the defendant himself that the defendant knew that coin 1009 was "freshly dug" and that, therefore, it had to be the property of the Italian government. Deponent is also informed by defendant himself that defendant purchased the coin in approximately 2010 and had been out of the ground less than a year and that he had purchased it for $250,000 and was expecting to sell it for approximately $350,000.

Three key points.  According to the affidavit which is the sworn testimony of an officer:

1.  An informant (who the officer knew) told the officer that Weiss said it was recently "dug";

2.  The officer listened to a recording of the conversation, and;

3.  Weiss himself allegedly told the officer that he bought the coin in 2010 knowing that it had been out of the ground less than a year.

That's pretty damning evidence.  Two separate eyewitness accounts and a tape recording.

No officer in his right mind would allege he had a tape recording if he didn't.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: bpmurphy on January 12, 2012, 09:45:12 am
Assuming the recorded conversations are quoted in full in the complaint, Mr. Weiss never says he knew the coin came from Italy or any other place specifically, only that it doesn't have a long pedigree. It could have been recently dug someplace where it was legal to export it. Maybe export papers exist, maybe not. It would seem to me that for Italy to be able to claim title they would have to have some evidence that the coin came from Italy, a fact never mentioned in the complaint.

Maybe there's more to this story than stated in the complaing, maybe not.

I'm not up to date on stolen property laws, but if Mr. Weiss bought the coin in good faith, other than perhaps having to forfeit the coin, I wonder if he can be held criminally liable?

One aparently ovelooked comment in this complaint, at least not discussed here, is the fact that Italy is claiming title to anything that may have come out of Italy since 1909. This has nothing to do with the recent Mou's. This was an expensive coin so it brought a lot of attention on itself. Can we forsee a time in the near future where Italy starts to claim everything that may have come out of Italy that doesn't have a pre-1909 pedigree?


Barry Murphy


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: mwilson603 on January 12, 2012, 12:48:34 pm
Assuming the recorded conversations are quoted in full in the complaint, Mr. Weiss never says he knew the coin came from Italy or any other place specifically, only that it doesn't have a long pedigree. It could have been recently dug someplace where it was legal to export it. Maybe export papers exist, maybe not. It would seem to me that for Italy to be able to claim title they would have to have some evidence that the coin came from Italy, a fact never mentioned in the complaint.

Maybe there's more to this story than stated in the complaing, maybe not.

I'm not up to date on stolen property laws, but if Mr. Weiss bought the coin in good faith, other than perhaps having to forfeit the coin, I wonder if he can be held criminally liable?

One aparently ovelooked comment in this complaint, at least not discussed here, is the fact that Italy is claiming title to anything that may have come out of Italy since 1909. This has nothing to do with the recent Mou's. This was an expensive coin so it brought a lot of attention on itself. Can we forsee a time in the near future where Italy starts to claim everything that may have come out of Italy that doesn't have a pre-1909 pedigree?


Barry Murphy

I might be missing something here, but in the original report we read
"According to a criminal complaint filed with the NYC District Attorney’s office, Weiss was secretly recorded telling a confidential informant that he knew one of the coins he was selling had been recently looted: “There’s no paperwork, I know this is a fresh coin, this was dug up a few years ago,” the complaint quotes Weiss telling the informant. “This was dug up two years ago. I know where this came from.”"
It also stated
"Weiss also allegedly told DA investigator John Freck that he knew the coin had been recently looted and belonged to the government of Italy, the complaint alleges."
So given that I am a little confused as to your points about Dr Weiss Barry.  If Dr Weiss knew it was freshly looted, and belonged to the Italian government, how could he possibly have bought it in good faith?  And it is also fairly clear as to why the Italian Government got involved as well surely?
Or as I say, am I missing something?
regards
Mark
P.S. I agree totally with your point over the 1909 date.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: bpmurphy on January 12, 2012, 08:48:05 pm
Mark,

In the complaint nothing mentioning Italy or looted (that word isn't in the complaint anywhere) is in quotes so it doesn't appear that's what Mr Weiss said. Where are you getting the quotes from Mr Weiss that mention anything about Italy? The only part of the complaint mentioning Italy is the next to last paragraph and it's not in quotes so it wasn't something mr Weiss said. He said the freshly dug part, the "property of Italy" part is not in quotes and was inserted by the prosecutor who is assuming if it's an Italian coin and recently dug it must belong to the Italians.

This complaint is incomplete. There's probably much more that we don't know. But based on this complaint alone I don't see enough evidence to prove a case. I wonder why the dekadrachm which they also seized isn't part of the complaint?

I don't know where the coin came from. If it came from Italy and it was recently dug then Italy probably has a case, specially if Mr Weiss did indeed say that. On the other hand if  Mr Weiss knows is that it was recently dug and came from somewhere else, then I guess he will have to prove it came from somewhere besides Italy.

Interestingly there was some discussion prior to the show that both coins may actually be fake. That would add another twist to the entire story. What if these are high quality Sicilian fakes, not actually dug but made, and exported out of Italy.

Barry


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: bpmurphy on January 13, 2012, 01:52:45 am
The questions of authenticity were not with mr Weiss or nomos or Cng. It was s few other people who had viewed the coins and had some doubts. Nothing provable just gut feelings. I'm sure the parties involved with the sale of the coins believe them to be authentic.

Barry Murphy


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: byzcoll on January 13, 2012, 11:45:21 am
There is a new article on the topic written by Mark Fox, see http://www.numismaster.com/ta/numis/Article.jsp?ad=article&ArticleId=24602

It gives a good overview on what is going on. The last paragraph refers to the McClain doctrine:

"Under the McClain doctrine, as confirmed by the Schultz decision and upheld by three U.S. District Courts of Appeal, any object that is covered by a source country national patrimony law (such as the 1909/1939 Italian laws) and can be proven to have been imported into the U.S. without an export certificate is considered stolen property under U.S. law, and anyone who knowingly trades in such objects is subject to prosecution."

I wonder how far this doctrine can be stretched, because almost every Roman item could be claimed by Italy under this doctrine, even if it has been excavated in France.

On the other hand it would be interesting to see what happens if a number of renowned experts would declare the seized coins to be fake. Do they have to be given back to Weiss in this instance?

byzcoll


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Congius on January 13, 2012, 01:51:44 pm
What I'd really like to know about this, other than the reality of the provenance, is why the DHS was involved and why the expensive deka was seized in addition to the coin actually mentioned in the dispute! It's a serious enough alleged crime, but this seems a bit heavy handed (maybe illegal, even?) to say the least. Is an allegedly illegally exported Italian coin really a matter of US homeland security?!

Ben


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: dafnis on January 13, 2012, 02:28:36 pm
I wonder how far this doctrine can be stretched, because almost every Roman item could be claimed by Italy under this doctrine, even if it has been excavated in France.

That could prove dangerous. Let's take silver, for example. Not all silver is the same and chemical analysis can prove provenance to local mines.
As for that, then Spain, for example, could claim a large amount of those coins since it was coined with Spanish silver.
And the old Spanish Empire countries could claim all the Spanish coins minted in the colonies with their precious metals.
It's a lose-lose game.

As for this particular story, my own bottom-line is that we'd need to worry if we have coins over $250,000... still, I am not in favour of the spirit, nor the letter of the current MOUs. That is not the way to preserv historical grounds nor to prevent looting.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Congius on January 13, 2012, 04:16:12 pm
"Under the McClain doctrine, as confirmed by the Schultz decision and upheld by three U.S. District Courts of Appeal, any object that is covered by a source country national patrimony law (such as the 1909/1939 Italian laws) and can be proven to have been imported into the U.S. without an export certificate is considered stolen property under U.S. law, and anyone who knowingly trades in such objects is subject to prosecution."

Hopefully they are talking about an export certificate from the "source" country here (i.e. the country claiming patrimony over such objects found on it's own soil), and therefore about coins that they can prove were exported from the source country in the first place.

Ben


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: byzcoll on January 15, 2012, 01:51:37 pm
Apparently things are messy. We as collectors need to be sure that the coins we buy from renowned sources like large auction houses are legally sold.

For example it is this coin: http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=369765

which apparently has been confiscated by Swiss authorities upon a complaint of Greece as published here:

http://www.boston.com/news/world/europe/articles/2012/01/12/greece_wins_swiss_court_ruling_over_ancient_coin/

I hope the collector will be compensated by the auction house. I wonder how Greece will prove that the coin has recently been found on their territory.

byzcoll



Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Tony A on January 19, 2012, 10:01:11 am
That seems to be the problem. If it was dug up in Italy and smuggled through Italian and U.S. Customs there's a serious problem. But if it was dug up in Italy and exported to virtually anywhere else before being shipped to the U.S. it is another matter entirely. And if it was found in an area outside of Italy, it is a matter of typical Italian government over-reach in claiming "cultural ownership" of everything originating in Italy at any time (presumably back to any Roman mint or workshop within the current Italian border).
We can't condone smuggling, but I'm not sure how the courts will treat legal imports from countries with no agreement with Italy, especially if there is no direct proof of looting. I also wonder when the original "export" was made since it could have been done before any formal agreements were made.
 The Italian government seems to have taken a rather extreme stance that everything produced at any time falls under the "cultural property" mantle. I don't think any of the EU countries have taken them seriously, since I don't know of any country outside the U.S. that has made any similar protocol with Italy. I'm not sure why the Bush and Obama administrations are interested in placating any government so famous for instability and incompetence. (Think of the potential fiscal advantages for Italy if a UK-type system were implemented and a controlled - and taxed - antiquities market were developed!)
I'm no lawyer, but the whole situation raises a lot of questions.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: cliff_marsland on January 21, 2012, 12:53:05 am
I just now read in the New York Slimes, which I sheepishly admit that I subscribe to, because I like the Friday cultural section,  that charges were dropped against Robert Hecht because the statute of limitations had run out.  Does that have anything to do with this case?  Was he one of the people referred to, or is it just coincidence?

I know nothing about that case, but good for him.  Whenever someone sticks it to the State, all is good.

I'm typing on a laptop here.  I don't see how people do it.  I hate the keyboard.  Give me a good desktop any day. 


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on January 21, 2012, 02:24:42 am
I just now read in the New York Slimes, which I sheepishly admit that I subscribe to, because I like the Friday cultural section,  that charges were dropped against Robert Hecht because the statute of limitations had run out.  Does that have anything to do with this case?  Was he one of the people referred to, or is it just coincidence?

I know nothing about that case, but good for him.  Whenever someone sticks it to the State, all is good.

I'm typing on a laptop here.  I don't see how people do it.  I hate the keyboard.  Give me a good desktop any day.  

Hecht was the guy who sold the Euphronios Krater to the Met in 1972 for $1m. It was supposedly from an old Lebanese collection but everyone - Hecht and the directors at the Met - knew that it had been dug up two years previously in an Etruscan tomb. In 1995 a raid at a Geneva entrepôt found a vast store of ancient goods along with poloroid photos (dateable by batch no.) that showed countless other items in various stages from broken-with-dirt to mid-restoration to on-display-at-the-Getty or the Met, with Hecht standing in front of several such photos. Including the Euphronios krater. This was the smoking gun raid as it proved beyond doubt that much of what was bought by the Met and Getty had very recently been in bits and covered in dirt. Marion True, the curator of antiquities at the Getty, along with Hecht, as the seller of many of the items, were put on trial in Italy, and the Getty (mainly) and the Met returned countless items to Italy. In both the cases of True and Hecht, time ran out after a decade or so in the Italian court system and they are now free. However it can't have been a pleasant decade and their lives and reputations are ruined. Others did go to prison including an English antiquities dealer, part of the same chain selling to the Getty, and several Italians. (The English guy's imprisonment was an accidental by-product - he was in dispute with his deceased partner's family about his estate and the revelations proved that he lied to court).

I show below a picture of Hecht in front of the Eurphronois Krater in the Met, and the same vase back in Italy in 2008. A splendid photo I think.

Whilst this case has nothing directly to do with these coins, it has everything to do with why all this is happening. Criminal behaviour by a number of large museums and prominent individuals in the antiquities world is what has led to the current wave of MOUs and actions by the Italian state. It also explains why it is focussed on the US. Every collector who wants to voice an opinion on collecting (which I strongly support) and private ownership of antiquities (ditto), their cross border trade and government interference in both, should at least have a basic knowledge of this unpleasant story so as to appreciate where others are coming from and be able to argue sensibly about the value of responsible private collecting and ownership.

If you find a laptop tough, don't bother trying a tablet. It'll feel as if you have 10 thumbs. I love the New York Times. I salivate over the restaurant listings even though I don't live and can't eat there.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Jay GT4 on January 21, 2012, 11:10:34 am


I know nothing about that case, but good for him.  Whenever someone sticks it to the State, all is good.
 

That's the problem isn't it?  Everyone trying to "stick it to the state".  These people and institutions stole property.  They are criminals.  They ruined it for honest collectors.  Like Andrew said: " ...be able to argue sensibly about the value of responsible private collecting and ownership. "  What the Met or Getty or Hecht did was not responsible...it was criminal.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Tony A on January 21, 2012, 11:24:42 am
I stand corrected, Benito. I was working from memory (poor at best, and worse after a stroke). But while the EU supports Italy's "cultural heritage" claims, it is not without hesitation or a number of modifications (i.e., UK and Germany).
My main problem with "cultural heritage" claims is that they are monumentally unworkable and constitute the negation of individual property rights, while encouraging what they are intended to prohibit. An old professor of mine called it the "Principle of the Paradox": A government policy taken to it's logical extreme produces its intended opposite."
Here's a local example: I have several friends who own rural property with a number of Native American Burial Mounds who have refused to alert authorities on the locations of the mounds since it would, in effect, mean relinquishing their ownership of the property (i.e., restricted building, farming, tree cutting, basic land improvements, disruption of normal activities, etc.) While they have left the mounds intact, they have (quietly) sold a number of artifacts found on the property in order to pay for taxes and land improvements. Since NA artifact sales are common around here there isn't much government interference or oversight, but things get much more complicated if the mounds were reported or the sale of artifacts were to international dealers. The point is, there is no incentive under the current system for them to report the mounds or catalog the artifacts.
It would be in the interest of Italy, the U.S. - and all countries - to establish an improved system such as the UK (with a lot of modifications).
 


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: paul1888 on January 21, 2012, 11:43:29 am
The individual collectors will probably be hurt as a result of this case, no matter the outcome.  It puts a bad light on collectors, a majority of whom abide by the laws.  If it were not for collectors of ancient coins, many of these little pieces of the past would not be here with us today.  Additionally, collectors have contributed to the study and understanding of coins and the role(s) they played in history.  I hope that we, and I count myself, can still collect freely and ultimately contribute to our understading of the past through the preservation and study of ancient coins.

I personally have been very careful to save reciept, catalogs and have been searching/buying old catalogs to document the provinance of my coins.  Not an easy task since I cannot afford coinarchives.

Paul

Coins record the past, not just from the context of their find location but the coin itself as a small time capsule of the past.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Tony A on January 21, 2012, 12:31:29 pm
Extremely well written, Paul.
And I, also, find it disturbing that my little collection could potentially be confiscated someday due to the arrogance of the narrow minded and nostalgic! I support archeology and conservation and the rule of law, but also see the need for the development of a constructive and responsible system that operates in the interest of everyone, not one that serves the self-satisfied few or serves as a mindless political tool. I share my meager collection with underpriviledged students, very few - if any - who will ever get to Italy or a museum or anywhere near an actual archeological sight. This is their only chance to see and touch a small piece of history, and, hopefully, learn and remember from it. Sad that a few misguided individuals would lock these things away in moldy boxes in unseen storerooms in the name of their narrow focus on "context" and "exclusive ownership"!


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Sharum on January 21, 2012, 01:22:27 pm
[Whilst this case has nothing directly to do with these coins, it has everything to do with why all this is happening. Criminal behaviour by a number of large museums and prominent individuals in the antiquities world is what has led to the current wave of MOUs and actions by the Italian state. It also explains why it is focussed on the US. Every collector who wants to voice an opinion on collecting (which I strongly support) and private ownership of antiquities (ditto), their cross border trade and government interference in both, should at least have a basic knowledge of this unpleasant story so as to appreciate where others are coming from and be able to argue sensibly about the value of responsible private collecting and ownership.


Finally! How could  anyone disagree on that?
If someone is interested in knowing more about some of the masterpieces illegally traded from Italy to US, and now returned to home (nostoi in greek):
    http://www.quirinale.it/qrnw/statico/artecultura/mostre/2007_Nostoi/Nostoigalleria.htm

See also:
-   Morgantina Venus  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Arte_greca,_forse_dalla_sicilia,_venere,_425-400_ac..JPG
-   Victorious youth - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fano_Athlete

We are speaking of unique masterpieces, not of coins struck in thousands of pieces, which nobody wants back and which can be legally exported.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Sharum on January 21, 2012, 01:25:08 pm
By the way, coming back to the deka and the tetra, here is an update:
http://www.coinworld.com/articles/collector-faces-charge-of-one-count-of-crimin/


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on January 21, 2012, 01:44:18 pm
By the way, coming back to the deka and the tetra, here is an update:
http://www.coinworld.com/articles/collector-faces-charge-of-one-count-of-crimin/

Sounds as if he gets to keep the Deka, its 1960s provenance not being disputed. If unlucky he may end up as a very rich felon as the money was in the Dekadrachm.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: cliff_marsland on January 21, 2012, 02:19:28 pm
I agree with you 99% of the time, Jay.  You make a good point.  If he got it out of a tomb, he's probably in the wrong.  It would bring up the philosophical discussion of a villain stealing from a villain.  If it's a tomb on public property, then yes, I concede he was in the wrong and I can't defend him.  If it was on someone's private property with their consent, then the State would be in the wrong.

Can someone clue me on on the Koch Brothers' hoard case?  Why would someone so wealthy possibly give it back? At least smash it and contemptuously "return" the fragments.  Surely someone so rich could afford some top-grade mercenaries to guard the treasure?




Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on January 21, 2012, 02:28:04 pm
If it's a tomb on public property, then yes, I concede he was in the wrong and I can't defend him.  If it was on someone's private property with their consent, then the State would be in the wrong.

This isn't oil leases in Texas. It makes no difference in Europe whether a protected monument (or indeed an oilfield) is on public or private property. It's the States (as is all oil under the ground in Europe). Land ownership in Europe gives you right to use the land but not the ownership of what lies under it.

The UK treasure trove scheme which gives land owner's rights of reward (but not of ownership) is a pragmatic deviation. The rights of ownership of the excavated goods still lie with the State if they want to keep them. They've just legislated about the reward bit for practical reasons. The State still owns what's under ground level and this applies just about everywhere.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: cliff_marsland on January 21, 2012, 04:55:03 pm
Yes, thank you, Andrew, you are factually correct as usual.  I was merely explaining my stance to Jay.  I realized the "legal" stance.  Also, thanks for supplying the background on the New York Slimes' case I was wondering about.

One never seems to hear of a Tony Montana-type being bothered.  Now that would be awesome!  It's probably a moot point, as bullies only bother people whom they think they can step on.

As I've mentioned before, to understand my attitude on all things MOU, one must understand that I'm related to a very long line of rebels against the British and Federal governments (and authority in general) respectively in the 18th and 19th centuries.  One side was always very proud of allegedly being related to the James' gang.  Off the top of my head, Jesse had no children.  Perhaps Frank?  The Lee provenance is unquestioned (hence Light Horse Harry and Robert E.). I'm not super-proud of being related to a vicious train robber.  The majority of my ancestors were Union, the famous ones were all Confederate.  I'm not implying that I shared the Confederates' stance on eugenics, just their views of individual freedom and very limited state.  Hence, unless the accused has a Snidely Whiplash mustache, wearing an "I Love Jack the Ripper" shirt and is cackling evilly, I'll almost always side with the individual.  Therefore, it's second nature that any MOU case will make me apoplectic.  It's like Jeremy Clarkson being brash (some would say a jerk, I would say cool) or James May being a renaissance man.  It's just second nature.

I find the MOU fans very strange indeed, although there don't seem to be many left on this board.  Of course, some people must have genuinely liked Laval, Admiral Horthy, or Antonescu in their respective day. It takes all kinds to make a world.

The Lees of that period were cultured individuals.  I wonder if any of them were interested in numismatics?  The love of classical numismatics and most things old must have come from somewhere.

In a perfect world, the individual could be free to collect any coin that wasn't stolen from an individual or public land.  I'd love to voluntarily help archaeologists with hoard analyses and such.  Unfortunately, many make themselves such obvious villains that I'll pretty much support the individual every time, no matter what.  It's really sad; one of the great tragedies of our day.  Like a very amusing man said, "Resist (the MOU) we much (sic)."  I added the MOU part.  What a great quote!


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on January 21, 2012, 05:22:41 pm
I find the MOU fans very strange indeed, although there don't seem to be many left on this board.  Of course, some people must have genuinely liked [xxx] in their respective day. It takes all kinds to make a world.

Given the facts I outlined about the Getty and Met cases, I don't find the MOU fans at all strange, in fact I really understand their perspective. "Collectors" such as the Met and Getty did very bad things to the credibility of collecting at large. I find your references to the various dictators you listed as distasteful and not at all sympathetic to the genuine drivers that have motivated other actors in this case.

I'm greatly in favour of collecting and private ownership but in order to make the case for collecting requires a sympathetic understanding of the facts of the various bad things that led to the MOUs. If you are unable to understand, sympathise with and debate the history of the Met and Getty acquisitions, then there is no hope of being able to change peoples perspectives.

It's our duty as collectors to be well informed in order to engage in proper debate.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: glebe on January 21, 2012, 05:39:12 pm
By the way, coming back to the deka and the tetra, here is an update:
http://www.coinworld.com/articles/collector-faces-charge-of-one-count-of-crimin/

Sounds as if he gets to keep the Deka, its 1960s provenance not being disputed. If unlucky he may end up as a very rich felon as the money was in the Dekadrachm.

Note however that there are no verifiable historical references to this coin in the Triton blurb:

http://tinyurl.com/7g9xw9b

which just says "From a collection in the United States, once in a Swiss collection and, earlier, in an English collection in London in the 1960s."

Ross G.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Lloyd Taylor on January 21, 2012, 06:02:46 pm
Note however that there are no verifiable historical references to this coin in the Triton blurb:

http://tinyurl.com/7g9xw9b

which just says "From a collection in the United States, once in a Swiss collection and, earlier, in an English collection in London in the 1960s."

Not a great basis on which to put $2,500,000 plus plus on the table for the privilege of a questionable title to ownership, which might be challenged at any time with risk of state sanctioned appropriation. Somehow, I feel the value of this sort of collectible has reached its apogee. Valid, verifiable provenance is now worth far more than its weight in gold.  All else is subject to whim. It appears that the market makers have now been hoist with their own petard.


Sounds as if he gets to keep the Deka, its 1960s provenance not being disputed. If unlucky he may end up as a very rich felon as the money was in the Dekadrachm.
Was is the operative word! The odium and uncertainty now associated with it is appreciable. Perception counts for much at this end of the market. Ouch! Even without further prosecution the vendor has suffered an appreciable financial penalty - the cynic in me wonders whether this was the NY DA's intention all along in so far as the seizure of the Deka was concerned.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: glebe on January 21, 2012, 07:07:50 pm
Note however that there are no verifiable historical references to this coin in the Triton blurb:

http://tinyurl.com/7g9xw9b

which just says "From a collection in the United States, once in a Swiss collection and, earlier, in an English collection in London in the 1960s."

Not a great basis on which to put $2,500,000 plus plus on the table for the privilege of a questionable title to ownership, which might be challenged at any time with risk of state sanctioned appropriation. Somehow, I feel the value of this sort of collectible has reached its apogee. Valid, verifiable provenance is now worth far more than its weight in gold.  All else is subject to whim. It appears that the market makers have now been hoist with their own petard.



You might also wonder about the legal liabilities of the auction houses when they make statements like this about provenance. Can they simply repeat (without qualification) what the vendor tells them, as if it's fact, or should they take real steps to verify his story. To date these questions don't seemed to have worried the trade at all.

Ross G.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Lloyd Taylor on January 21, 2012, 08:45:33 pm
You might also wonder about the legal liabilities of the auction houses when they make statements like this about provenance. Can they simply repeat (without qualification) what the vendor tells them, as if it's fact, or should they take real steps to verify his story. To date these questions don't seemed to have worried the trade at all.

Agree that this appears to be the case, at least in the context of this example. Such questions become paramount at this end of the market, if not at all levels of the market. The Triton auction raid certainly was something more than a shot across the bows of the trade.  More likely it will prove to be a shell into the engine room in my opinion. Blind eye and denial are not sustainable business strategies for the trade as various states seek to enforce their view of ownership and resort to courts to sort out the facts at a later date.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: cliff_marsland on January 21, 2012, 09:03:42 pm
Out of respect you Andrew, so unless there's a big news flash I shall comment no more on this thread about my feelings about the MOU proponents.  No one will change their respective minds, and I want no acrimony with you. I'll have to agree to gently disagree on this topic.  I do understand where you're coming from, but be warned, what if they come for your coins?  It's a rather slippery slope, I'm afraid.  I don't have the quote from the German cardinal at hand, but a man as erudite as you will know what I mean, "and finally there was no one to stand up." or words to that effect.

It's very rare that I apologize, but for your sake, I'll apologize to you for that little editorial comment.  

Laval, Horthy, Antonescu.  That reference would have sailed over the heads of 99% of people.  You were intelligent enough to pick up my intimation and my inference of their philosophy applied to the MOU.  They were all third-tier client rulers who were deposed in 1944 and 45 respectively, for those who don't know who they were.  

An amusing bit of  minutia; Horthy was the admiral of a non-existent Hungarian navy.  Poor Austria-Hungary.  I always had a very soft spot for the Dual Monarchy; a relic of a much more civilized time.  Austria is one of the few modern European countries I'd like to visit - perhaps also Switzerland, Bohemia, and San Marino.  You can guess the shop I'd beeline it for in Vienna.  Hint it both begins and ends with H.  If I could travel back to 1885, I'd want to visit most of them.

Combined with other things, the MOU gives one who is an opponent of such things a very Jean Shepherd-esque view of society.  For benefit of Europeans, he was a brilliant but very bitter humorist, most famous for the movie "A Christmas Story," but he also had a very famous radio show on WOR, New York (1956-77). He was a funnier version of Henry Morgan, or even Fred Allen, both of whom were very angry at the end.  Shep was the best, but like Morgan (whom he was influenced by) and Allen he had a very low opinion of humanity. Shep's was the world of the "slobs vs. non-slobs."  Assuming archive.org is still around, check out Shep.  You should check out a pre-1970 episode. Shep took away his tapes when he became unhappy with radio in the 1970s, but happily fans in New York recorded hundreds of episodes.  Even the cartoonist penning "Zippy the Pinhead" did a touching tribute when Shep died.  I didn't get to experience the 1960s, but people were so much more intelligent and interested in culture even then.  I am saddened about how much we have sunk.  Even little pieces of metal are under attack. It is like my father once said, we are becoming the world of the Morlocks.  It's so sad.  The only thing we have is technology.  The happy by-product is that intelligent people come to discuss their ideas on Forum

Anyway, enough of the depressing stuff, I'm going to choose a coin to buy, while I still can, before I have to go to a Sheldon Leonard-esque shadowy figure, "Psst, hey bud, I have a Gallienus Antoninianus."


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Jay GT4 on January 21, 2012, 09:14:08 pm

Anyway, enough of the depressing stuff, I'm going to choose a coin to buy, while I still can, before I have to go to a Sheldon Leonard-esque shadowy figure, "Psst, hey bud, I have a Gallienus Antoninianus."
Cliff:
 ;D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfelvI_ikf4


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Lloyd Taylor on January 21, 2012, 09:21:46 pm
You might also wonder about the legal liabilities of the auction houses when they make statements like this about provenance. Can they simply repeat (without qualification) what the vendor tells them, as if it's fact, or should they take real steps to verify his story. To date these questions don't seemed to have worried the trade at all.


In answer to your question, it is a case of all care and no responsibility for the auction house.  Suppose you plonk down $2,500,000 plus plus for the Deka, then at a later date it proves to to be stolen.  Then you are in receipt of stolen goods, which can and will be legally seized and returned to the rightful owner without compensation to you, and you have zero come back on those who sold it to you, even if you escape jail.

It is no different to buying a car (at least in my country).  If it is later proven to be stolen then it is confiscated and returned to the owner, even if you bought it with the best intentions and upon the best representations and thus escape jail in the process. No one buys a car in Australia without confirming who has legal title and the right to sell it. I doubt it is much different anywhere else in the world where there is an established body of property law.  

The coin trade effectively operates on the same basis - all liability resides with the purchaser in the event the item later proves to be stolen. This may explain what motivates the approach of the trade that we seem to be seeing in the this instance - all care and no responsibility for the stated provenance?


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: glebe on January 21, 2012, 11:49:39 pm
You might also wonder about the legal liabilities of the auction houses when they make statements like this about provenance. Can they simply repeat (without qualification) what the vendor tells them, as if it's fact, or should they take real steps to verify his story. To date these questions don't seemed to have worried the trade at all.


In answer to your question, it is a case of all care and no responsibility for the auction house.  Suppose you plonk down $2,500,000 plus plus for the Deka, then at a later date it proves to to be stolen.  Then you are in receipt of stolen goods, which can and will be legally seized and returned to the rightful owner without compensation to you, and you have zero come back on those who sold it to you, even if you escape jail.

At present of course nobody is alleging that the deka is stolen. However, on the facts as we know them it may be open to a customs claim, which is not a criminal action, under the Italian MOU.
As we all know (and as the ACCG recently found out), the onus is then on the importer to show that a designated coin has been legally imported, and not on the Customs Service or the Italian state to show that it wasn't.
Incidentally, those interested in the ACCG case and MOU matters in general should see Rick St Hilaire's recent blog:

http://culturalheritagelawyer.blogspot.com/search/label/Ancient%20Coin%20Collectors%20Guild%20%28ACCG%29

Ross G.



Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Lloyd Taylor on January 22, 2012, 12:38:44 am
My response was simply a hypothetical situation to highlight that essentially no liability resides with the auction house. Rather it resides with the purchaser...and this point was made in answer to your question.. You might also wonder about the legal liabilities of the auction houses when they make statements like this about provenance. None of the potential liability arising from an inaccurate or deceptive provenance statement comes back to the auction house. It resides with the vendor if seizure occurs before sale or with the purchaser after sale. The middle man is under no potential liability risk and this explains a lot about why the trade may be prepared to push a less than verifiable provenance.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on January 22, 2012, 02:13:37 am
Out of respect you Andrew, so unless there's a big news flash I shall comment no more on this thread about my feelings about the MOU proponents.  No one will change their respective minds, and I want no acrimony with you. I'll have to agree to gently disagree on this topic.  I do understand where you're coming from, but be warned, what if they come for your coins?  It's a rather slippery slope, I'm afraid.  I don't have the quote from the German cardinal at hand, but a man as erudite as you will know what I mean, "and finally there was no one to stand up." or words to that effect.

OK. Peace. I'm in favour of whatever lines of arguments work. We have different views about how best to debate with MOU supporters. That's ok. I do urge all supporters of collecting to be at least familiar with the facts and lines of arguments "the other side" will advance, not all of which are baseless. Everyone at least should be familiar with the story of Euphronios, the Getty and the Met.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: glebe on January 22, 2012, 05:17:27 am
My response was simply a hypothetical situation to highlight that essentially no liability resides with the auction house. Rather it resides with the purchaser...and this point was made in answer to your question.. You might also wonder about the legal liabilities of the auction houses when they make statements like this about provenance. None of the potential liability arising from an inaccurate or deceptive provenance statement comes back to the auction house. It resides with the vendor if seizure occurs before sale or with the purchaser after sale. The middle man is under no potential liability risk and this explains a lot about why the trade may be prepared to push a less than verifiable provenance.

Understood.

Ross G.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: mwilson603 on January 22, 2012, 08:06:38 am
I'm sorry if this has already been asked and I have missed it, or if there is an announcement somewhere that I cannot find, however I noticed on one of the many press reports that Dr Weiss is a trustee of the American Numismatic Society.  Has the ANS distanced themselves from him yet?
regards
Mark


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on January 22, 2012, 08:32:14 am
I'm sorry if this has already been asked and I have missed it, or if there is an announcement somewhere that I cannot find, however I noticed on one of the many press reports that Dr Weiss is a trustee of the American Numismatic Society.  Has the ANS distanced themselves from him yet?
regards
Mark

He is not listed as a trustee:

http://numismatics.org/About/Governance

He was listed as a treasurer 2005 - 2009:

http://numismatics.org/Archives/ANSTreasurers

I'm not sure the press reports were accurate - I'd read he was a past board member (as treasurer) but not that he held any current role. Even if he did have a current role, which it seems not, I doubt the ANS would distance themselves from someone on an issue relating to unproven allegations that relate to import controls that the ANS strongly oppose.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: 4to2CentBCphilia on January 22, 2012, 09:20:16 am
I have been meaning to ask....did the remaining coins in Cab W go under the hammer or was that part of Triton cancelled?  CNG didn't post results for the Cab W coins.

BR

Mark


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: byzcoll on January 22, 2012, 09:26:12 am
I have been meaning to ask....did the remaining coins in Cab W go under the hammer or was that part of Triton cancelled?  CNG didn't post results for the Cab W coins.

BR

Mark


Hi Mark,

the coins have been auctioned, some lots remain unsold. The results are listed with Triton XV, from lot 1001 on.

byzcoll


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: 4to2CentBCphilia on January 22, 2012, 11:14:42 am
I have been meaning to ask....did the remaining coins in Cab W go under the hammer or was that part of Triton cancelled?  CNG didn't post results for the Cab W coins.

BR

Mark


Hi Mark,

the coins have been auctioned, some lots remain unsold. The results are listed with Triton XV, from lot 1001 on.

byzcoll

Thanks.  Your info allowed me to find them at the CNG research site. I had been using Sixbid to look for the realized prices and it just kept bringing me to the CNG page that indicates the document is missing.

Looks like most sold at or near estimate.

Thanks again

Mark


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: mwilson603 on January 22, 2012, 12:28:39 pm
Even if he did have a current role, which it seems not, I doubt the ANS would distance themselves from someone on an issue relating to unproven allegations that relate to import controls that the ANS strongly oppose.

Andrew, whilst we are almost all against the import controls, unfortunately at the moment they are there.  This case involves the possible breaching of those rules, and by someone that was at one point tightly linked with the ANS.  As the ANS is mentioned in multiple reports, I would have thought that the sensible thing for them to do would be to state that they do NOT condone the breaking of any laws in the pursuit of numismatics.  That phrase isn't issuing any kind of approval for the import controls, and it may help to pour oil on the troubled waters we are now seeing from people using this case to justify the controls.  Also, if Dr Weiss isn't actively involved in the running of ANS right now, then I would have thought an additional line from them mentioning that fact may be a good thing.
regards
Mark


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Tony A on January 22, 2012, 01:11:49 pm
I find it sad and somewhat ironic that the "cultural property" debate centers around countries such as Italy. I don't mean to disparage another country (there's plenty to criticize the U.S. for) or get into a debate about nationalism or political/economic systems, but the State's principle of exclusive ownership is, after Barbara Tuchman, a prime example of "folly": a government policy that is contrary to it's self-interest and based on the "exertion of a right (you) cannot exert (or enforce) ... (and) the (rejection) of viable alternatives."
In the case of counties like Italy or Greece, this is particularly telling. Driven by the myth of a "New Rome" and past glory, Italy, perhaps due to its' almost endless succession of governments - something like 61 since WWI - has struggled with the development of consistent national policies, a working economy, an efficient court system, the establishment of effective control over its' borders and internal commerce (in 2007 it was estimated that approximately 9% of the economy was black market based, and it is certainly much larger now), or adequately support and maintain its' museums and exhibits. Archeologists, the ones who so strongly support the current restrictions on excavations and the sale/import of antiquities, complain of the lack of access to sites due to "Italians first" restrictions and administrative roadblocks.
Even the most ardent MUO supporters have to admit the current situation is largely useless posturing, and hopefully, be open to workable solutions that respect the rights of property owners, limits the further development and expansion of black market operations, creates the means for responsible - and accessible - archeological research, allows for legal sale and acquisition of non-essential artifacts, creates the funding for the expansion and maintenance of existing cultural facilities, and the means (i.e., funding) for improving Italy's tourism industry.
Perhaps this Forum would be an excellent place to start discussions regarding workable solutions and enforceable policies.
Until that happens, however, I'll continue to worry about the future of my little collection ...


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on January 22, 2012, 01:21:37 pm
Andrew, whilst we are almost all against the import controls, unfortunately at the moment they are there.  This case involves the possible breaching of those rules, and by someone that was at one point tightly linked with the ANS.  As the ANS is mentioned in multiple reports, I would have thought that the sensible thing for them to do would be to state that they do NOT condone the breaking of any laws in the pursuit of numismatics.  That phrase isn't issuing any kind of approval for the import controls, and it may help to pour oil on the troubled waters we are now seeing from people using this case to justify the controls.  Also, if Dr Weiss isn't actively involved in the running of ANS right now, then I would have thought an additional line from them mentioning that fact may be a good thing.
regards
Mark

Well argued.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: glebe on January 22, 2012, 01:34:49 pm
I'm sorry if this has already been asked and I have missed it, or if there is an announcement somewhere that I cannot find, however I noticed on one of the many press reports that Dr Weiss is a trustee of the American Numismatic Society.  Has the ANS distanced themselves from him yet?
regards
Mark

He is not listed as a trustee:

http://numismatics.org/About/Governance

He was listed as a treasurer 2005 - 2009:

http://numismatics.org/Archives/ANSTreasurers

I'm not sure the press reports were accurate - I'd read he was a past board member (as treasurer) but not that he held any current role. Even if he did have a current role, which it seems not, I doubt the ANS would distance themselves from someone on an issue relating to unproven allegations that relate to import controls that the ANS strongly oppose.

And yet it seems that Weiss's name as the donor of many coins and other artifacts to the ANS has now been deleted from the database.

Ross G.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: maridvnvm on January 22, 2012, 01:42:33 pm
He was nominated as a trustee...

http://numismatics.org/About/2011Nominations (http://numismatics.org/About/2011Nominations)

Martin


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: 4to2CentBCphilia on January 22, 2012, 01:45:21 pm
 Also, if Dr Weiss isn't actively involved in the running of ANS right now, then I would have thought an additional line from them mentioning that fact may be a good thing.
regards
Mark

Well argued.

Well, here's the thing IMO. If the ANS were to put out a response at this time, it would have the unintended effect of implying DR Weiss is guilty. Why else would they suddenly make a point of stating he is no longer tied to the ANS in any manner.

In the USA, a man is innocent until proven guilty by a jury of his peers. As flawed as our justice system is, it is still better than being tried and convicted based on the opinion of an inadequately informed public.  Especially when that opinion is based on the few pieces of information that "the state" has made public. Although the documentation presented on the web seems damning, I will wait until a jury hears ALL the evidence and renders a verdict.

In the interim, the ANS may do best to wait out this one. If Dr Weiss is found guilty, then I hope they are prepared, because it does not look good. The folks who collect at this level  and the dealers that supply them, are all clubby and connected...............a stain on one is a stain on many.

BTW I no longer collect coins from Italy. I sold what I had when I had to the need to sell some coins. I had no fears of the coins being confiscated from my home. I did however not want to live with the specter of possibly not being able to sell them one day. Sad because Sicilian coins are the best that Greek coins have to offer IMO. Unfortunately the Italians own that island. I have been bidding sheepishly on some Roman Republic and early Sestertius..........but I am not not in much of a hurry anymore.

My last coins have been English Hammered or Thracian coins. My sole Greek coin was minted in Alexandria Egypt.

Collecting has become quite the challenge these days.

Just my thoughts.

BR

Mark


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: maridvnvm on January 22, 2012, 01:48:43 pm
So what do you make of the ANS removing the references to him from coins that he has gifted to ANS?

look at:-

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:DR1X_KK_HNsJ:numismatics.org/search/results%3Fq%3Ddepartment_facet:%2522Greek%2522%2BAND%2Bdenomination_facet:%2522double%2Bsiglos%2522+&cd=17&hl=en&ct=clnk (http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:DR1X_KK_HNsJ:numismatics.org/search/results%3Fq%3Ddepartment_facet:%2522Greek%2522%2BAND%2Bdenomination_facet:%2522double%2Bsiglos%2522+&cd=17&hl=en&ct=clnk)

http://numismatics.org/search/results?q=department_facet:%22Greek%22+AND+denomination_facet:%22double+siglos%22 (http://numismatics.org/search/results?q=department_facet:%22Greek%22+AND+denomination_facet:%22double+siglos%22)

An odd think for ANS to do.

Regards,
Martin


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on January 22, 2012, 01:58:23 pm
BTW I no longer collect coins from Italy. I sold what I had when I had to the need to sell some coins. I had no fears of the coins being confiscated from my home. I did however not want to live with the specter of possibly not being able to sell them one day. Sad because Sicilian coins are the best that Greek coins have to offer IMO. Unfortunately the Italians own that island. I have been bidding sheepishly on some Roman Republic and early Sestertius..........but I am not not in much of a hurry anymore.

Roman Republican coins from the introduction of the denarius are NOT covered by the MOU.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Congius on January 22, 2012, 02:10:33 pm
Even if he did have a current role, which it seems not, I doubt the ANS would distance themselves from someone on an issue relating to unproven allegations that relate to import controls that the ANS strongly oppose.

Andrew, whilst we are almost all against the import controls, unfortunately at the moment they are there.  This case involves the possible breaching of those rules, and by someone that was at one point tightly linked with the ANS.

Actually, for what it's worth, this case (or at least the actual charge of possession of stolen property) isn't based on import controls (the Italian MOU), but rather on the Italian state's assertion of ownership of all such recently found antiquities. Based on this state ownership claim the illegal export of these items may be considered theft and hence they are viewed per the US McClain doctrine/ruling as stolen property, and subject to US stolen property law.

Ben

P.S.
You can read some background to the McClain doctrine here:

http://www.mcdonald.cam.ac.uk/projects/iarc/culturewithoutcontext/issue%2013/gerstenblith.htm

Note how state ownership is the key determinant here - if this was just about export (or import) violation then the charge of theft/stolen property would not apply.



Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: 4to2CentBCphilia on January 22, 2012, 02:23:48 pm
BTW I no longer collect coins from Italy. I sold what I had when I had to the need to sell some coins. I had no fears of the coins being confiscated from my home. I did however not want to live with the specter of possibly not being able to sell them one day. Sad because Sicilian coins are the best that Greek coins have to offer IMO. Unfortunately the Italians own that island. I have been bidding sheepishly on some Roman Republic and early Sestertius..........but I am not not in much of a hurry anymore.

Roman Republican coins from the introduction of the denarius are NOT covered by the MOU.

Really? Someone told me otherwise. At least in regards to RR denarii.

This is great news for me...........although perhaps not for my wallet.

Thanks for that info.

BR

Mark


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: 4to2CentBCphilia on January 22, 2012, 02:27:38 pm
So what do you make of the ANS removing the references to him from coins that he has gifted to ANS?

look at:-

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:DR1X_KK_HNsJ:numismatics.org/search/results%3Fq%3Ddepartment_facet:%2522Greek%2522%2BAND%2Bdenomination_facet:%2522double%2Bsiglos%2522+&cd=17&hl=en&ct=clnk (http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:DR1X_KK_HNsJ:numismatics.org/search/results%3Fq%3Ddepartment_facet:%2522Greek%2522%2BAND%2Bdenomination_facet:%2522double%2Bsiglos%2522+&cd=17&hl=en&ct=clnk)

http://numismatics.org/search/results?q=department_facet:%22Greek%22+AND+denomination_facet:%22double+siglos%22 (http://numismatics.org/search/results?q=department_facet:%22Greek%22+AND+denomination_facet:%22double+siglos%22)

An odd think for ANS to do.

Regards,
Martin
[/quote

Hmmmm.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: byzcoll on January 22, 2012, 02:35:57 pm


Actually, for what it's worth, this case (or at least the actual charge of possession of stolen property) isn't based on import controls (the Italian MOU), but rather on the Italian state's assertion of ownership of all such recently found antiquities. Based on this state ownership claim the illegal export of these items may be considered theft and hence they are viewed per the US McClain doctrine/ruling as stolen property, and subject to US stolen property law.

Ben


They could actually claim everything which has left Italy without an export license since 1909 (Not 2009). In 1909 major cultural property laws went into effect in Italy.

byzcoll


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: benito on January 22, 2012, 03:25:50 pm
So what do you make of the ANS removing the references to him from coins that he has gifted to ANS?

look at:-

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:DR1X_KK_HNsJ:numismatics.org/search/results%3Fq%3Ddepartment_facet:%2522Greek%2522%2BAND%2Bdenomination_facet:%2522double%2Bsiglos%2522+&cd=17&hl=en&ct=clnk (http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:DR1X_KK_HNsJ:numismatics.org/search/results%3Fq%3Ddepartment_facet:%2522Greek%2522%2BAND%2Bdenomination_facet:%2522double%2Bsiglos%2522+&cd=17&hl=en&ct=clnk)

http://numismatics.org/search/results?q=department_facet:%22Greek%22+AND+denomination_facet:%22double+siglos%22 (http://numismatics.org/search/results?q=department_facet:%22Greek%22+AND+denomination_facet:%22double+siglos%22)

An odd think for ANS to do.

Regards,
Martin

DAMNATIO MEMORIAE  ?


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: mwilson603 on January 22, 2012, 03:29:21 pm
 Also, if Dr Weiss isn't actively involved in the running of ANS right now, then I would have thought an additional line from them mentioning that fact may be a good thing.
regards
Mark

Well argued.

Well, here's the thing IMO. If the ANS were to put out a response at this time, it would have the unintended effect of implying DR Weiss is guilty. Why else would they suddenly make a point of stating he is no longer tied to the ANS in any manner.

In the USA, a man is innocent until proven guilty by a jury of his peers. As flawed as our justice system is, it is still better than being tried and convicted based on the opinion of an inadequately informed public.  

Mark, I fully understand the basis of the legal system.  The USA took most of it from Britain in the first place :)
I was not advocating announcing Dr Weiss is guilty by the ANS.  I was merely pointing out that if he is nothing to do with them anymore, they should announce that and remove themselves from the middle of the mud-slinging, regardless of how it pans out.  For example, if I was an ex-IOC member and arrested as part of a criminal investigation, and press reports stated that I am a serving member of the IOC, I would expect the Olympic committee to quickly announce that I am no longer a serving member.  That is NOT announcing that I am guilty, it is merely getting the facts straight.  
If the "inadequately informed public" add 1+1 together and come to a figure of 3, well a) that's just a shame, and b) irrelevant.  Until he goes to trial it doesn't matter what anyone outside of that process thinks.
regards
Mark


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on January 22, 2012, 04:00:26 pm
Really? Someone told me otherwise. At least in regards to RR denarii.

This is great news for me...........although perhaps not for my wallet.

Thanks for that info.

BR

Mark

The MOU is specific that it includes only Roman Republican coins which are catalogued in Rutter's Historia Numorum Italy. That includes only the pre-denarius didrachm coinage as well as some civic coins.

No denarius coinage including bronze or gold is included. That is official.

You can check the text of the MOU if you wish, but it is specific. Rutter's Historia Numorum Italy is the guiding text (and Barclay Head's book for Sicily), and there are no denarii in that book.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: glebe on January 22, 2012, 05:21:31 pm
Really? Someone told me otherwise. At least in regards to RR denarii.

This is great news for me...........although perhaps not for my wallet.

Thanks for that info.

BR

Mark

The MOU is specific that it includes only Roman Republican coins which are catalogued in Rutter's Historia Numorum Italy. That includes only the pre-denarius didrachm coinage as well as some civic coins.

No denarius coinage including bronze or gold is included. That is official.

You can check the text of the MOU if you wish, but it is specific. Rutter's Historia Numorum Italy is the guiding text (and Barclay Head's book for Sicily), and there are no denarii in that book.

Actually, it's Hill's book for Sicily, but no matter. Here is the current designated list:

http://exchanges.state.gov/media/office-of-policy-and-evaluation/chc/pdfs/it2011dlfrn.pdf

Ross G.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: glebe on January 22, 2012, 07:26:04 pm
You might also wonder about the legal liabilities of the auction houses when they make statements like this about provenance. Can they simply repeat (without qualification) what the vendor tells them, as if it's fact, or should they take real steps to verify his story. To date these questions don't seemed to have worried the trade at all.


In answer to your question, it is a case of all care and no responsibility for the auction house.  Suppose you plonk down $2,500,000 plus plus for the Deka, then at a later date it proves to to be stolen.  Then you are in receipt of stolen goods, which can and will be legally seized and returned to the rightful owner without compensation to you, and you have zero come back on those who sold it to you, even if you escape jail.

At present of course nobody is alleging that the deka is stolen. However, on the facts as we know them it may be open to a customs claim, which is not a criminal action, under the Italian MOU.
As we all know (and as the ACCG recently found out), the onus is then on the importer to show that a designated coin has been legally imported, and not on the Customs Service or the Italian state to show that it wasn't.

Ross G.



Mmm - no further comment at this time.

Ross G.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Lloyd Taylor on January 22, 2012, 08:17:05 pm
.......
At present of course nobody is alleging that the deka is stolen. However, on the facts as we know them it may be open to a customs claim, which is not a criminal action, under the Italian MOU.
As we all know (and as the ACCG recently found out), the onus is then on the importer to show that a designated coin has been legally imported, and not on the Customs Service or the Italian state to show that it wasn't.

Mmm - no further comment at this time.

I'll venture to risk my head in the lion's mouth at this point by saying that the Italian Government and US Customs Department interpret the law correctly, in that an object that is not accompanied by the requisite export approval and/or documentation demonstrating old provenance then it is by definition not legally entitled to be imported into the country (US), or is illegally present in the country if it is already there. The long bow that is then drawn by most commentators and observers is that such being the case the object must by definition have been looted/stolen. Yet such a conclusion is a non sequitur in that there may well be other reasons why an export approval is not granted, or documentation supporting an old provenance not available.  The simple solution in this case is to not try and move the object across US borders. Notice how the stated provenance for the deka invited scrutiny on this very point...From a collection in the United States, once in a Swiss collection and, earlier, in an English collection in London in the 1960s.

To my mind the key unanswered question: At what date did it leave Switzerland and enter the USA and how does this sit in terms of the MoU restrictions on importation of Italian coins which has an effective date of January 19, 2011?


For the avoidance of doubt, I use the terms looted and stolen synonymously:

loot |loōt|
noun
goods, esp. private property, taken from an enemy in war.
• stolen money or valuables : two men wearing stocking masks, each swinging a bag of loot.
• informal money; wealth : the thief made off with $5 million in loot.
verb [ trans. ]
steal goods from (a place), typically during a war or riot : police confronted the rioters who were looting shops.
• steal (goods) in such circumstances : tons of food aid awaiting distribution had been looted.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Lloyd Taylor on January 22, 2012, 08:26:07 pm
When all is said and done it is probably a lot safer for one's wealth to stick with the Becker Deka  ;D over the Cabinet W one....


(image courtesy of Doug Smith ....http://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=77540.0;topicseen)


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: 4to2CentBCphilia on February 10, 2012, 07:44:17 pm
Thought I would stick this here since it seems tangentially associated


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/10/arts/design/robert-hecht-antiquities-dealer-dies-at-92.html?_r=1&hpw

BR

Mark


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Molinari on March 21, 2012, 06:02:13 am
Looks like today is a big day for Dr. Weiss:

The criminal court set bail at $200,000, and Weiss is expected to appear in court March 21 for possible grand jury action, Tran wrote in an email to The Herald. (The Brown Daily Herald, 2/17, Med School prof arrested for coin theft).

Let's hope it is just one big misunderstanding.

Nick



Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: WilliamBoyd on March 23, 2012, 02:39:30 pm
Dr. Weiss case continued until July 3.

The Barrington hand surgeon who faces a charge of allegedly trying to sell a looted ancient coin appeared in Manhattan criminal court on Wednesday, March 21, according to the Chasing Aphrodite blog.

Stay tuned.

:)


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: PeterD on July 04, 2012, 03:35:50 am
Judgement Day:

http://online.wsj.com/article/AP910efeb3395c4e069f8387715326edd6.html


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: cicerokid on July 04, 2012, 04:42:21 am

And what a judgement, particularly that the coins are adjudged fake.

I wonder who was the " expert" who called them fakes and their grounds for doing so.

I wonder that if you got 10 experts and double blind tested them with the coins in question and known real coins of similar ( if possible), type and see what the outcome would be.

The value of single coin finds must be minimal as compared to hoard finds so I guess the actual archaeological value is similar.

And finally, and similarly, the expert numismatical witness might be needed again if the recently discovered Athenian Dekadrachms are called into official doubt. Some were sold and some were withdrawn from sale.

Just the odd thought or two.

Cic


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Maffeo on July 04, 2012, 06:07:47 am
More on this saga here:

http://chasingaphrodite.com/


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: mwilson603 on July 04, 2012, 06:36:21 am
Wow, what a punishment he has received.  70 hours community service doing what he does for a job anyway.  $1,000 fine for each of the three coins, and having to write an article for a publication.  (OK, he has lost 23 other coins, but no mention of type or value).

(Please correct me if any of the following numbers are incorrect, I don't have time to double check right now!)

So, he expected, and nearly did, sell one of the coins for $1.3M, which he hoped would net him approx $1/3M.  For getting caught and admitting it, he gets a $3k fine and a slap on the wrist???  I'll bet scammers, illegal importers and other fraudsters are quaking in their boots.  Jeese, with punishments like that I'd consider trying my luck at smuggling as well.  It seems that the risk/reward balance would be in my favour!!!

regards

Mark


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on July 04, 2012, 06:43:59 am
I'm looking forward to reading this:

The court also required Weiss, the former treasurer of the American Numismatic Society, to write a detailed article in the society’s magazine detailing the widespread practice of dealing in coins with unclear ownership histories. It will describe the corresponding threat to the archaeological record and propose solutions for reforming the coin trade. In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said, “Thanks to today’s disposition, the article to be written by the defendant for a coin trade magazine will raise needed awareness about unprovenanced coins, and will promote responsible collecting among numismatists.”

Wow, what a punishment he has received.  70 hours community service doing what he does for a job anyway.  $1,000 fine for each of the three coins, and having to write an article for a publication.  (OK, he has lost 23 other coins, but no mention of type or value).

Don't forget he is also out of pocket perhaps a million dollars for what he paid for the fakes (I've no difficulty believing they are fakes bearing in mind the deceptive quality of the athens dekadrachm withdrawn from sale last year). But I do agree that the $3000 and 70 hours is neither here nor there. Bear in mind that the most significant aspect of the plea bargain was retention of his medical licence, which might have been at risk were he convicted of serious felony involving a long sentence (even if suspended). From this perspective, what he did not lose is perhaps most important of all.

Paul Barford makes a good case that the fake coins seized by the DA should be retained for future investigations rather than destroyed, as the court has ordered. Given the facts of this case, numerous private collectors and museums that did business with Weiss must be wondering how many other ancient coins that passed through his hands could also be forgeries.

This must be the first time in my life that I wholeheartedly agree with Barford, and also with the follow-up comment, but only in a general sense that doesn't relate to Weiss: any very-high-end fresh-looking unprovenanced Greek silver must always be thoughtfully considered before purchase (not a new thing of course). I'm so glad I collect a coin series (RR bronzes) that is so disregarded you could hardly give them away. In fact, RR bronzes are almost by definition, not money. They are, today, not a way to store wealth, not a means of exchange, and not a measure of value. ;D


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: benito on July 04, 2012, 07:04:23 am
I certainly would like more and  detailed information on why and on what basis the coins were declared forgeries, and by how many experts. Were scientific tests with electronic microscope or other technique carried out ?
I know that this type of very valuable coins are rarely seen and logically rarely forged. When forged, one or two specimens. But I am beginning to worry more and more about middle( and generally well known) priced coins. 


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Maffeo on July 04, 2012, 07:08:22 am
Bardford's latest post makes the point that now all Cabinet W Sale coins must inevitably come under suspicion. Perhaps all ought to be examined using the same technique?

http://paul-barford.blogspot.com.au/


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: mwilson603 on July 04, 2012, 07:21:53 am
Don't forget he is also out of pocket perhaps a million dollars for what he paid for the fakes (I've no difficulty believing they are fakes bearing in mind the deceptive quality of the athens dekadrachm withdrawn from sale last year).

Maybe, maybe not.  I think that if I were him, once I had been caught my first call would be to my seller stating something along the lines of "Now, if you want your name kept out of this whole mess, this is what is going to happen".  Follow that up with a "You sold me fakes!?!  Now I expect to see a refund within the next 24 hours or both the FBI and Interpol will have your name, address and phone number.  Just remember, I have kept you out of the picture so far!"

regards

Mark


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on July 04, 2012, 07:25:22 am
I think that if I were him, once I had been caught my first call would be to my seller stating something along the lines of "Now, if you want your name kept out of this whole mess, this is what is going to happen".  Follow that up with a "You sold me fakes!?!  Now I expect to see a refund within the next 24 hours or both the FBI and Interpol will have your name, address and phone number.  Just remember, I have kept you out of the picture so far!"

No chance whatsoever. Remember the seller was masquerading as an illegal excavator (that was Weiss' story after all) and doubtless required payment in cash, and left no forwarding address. I'm about 99% confident of this. Someone - either Weiss or a dealer - has been stung for a million dollars by someone with mud on their hands, pretending to be a Sicilian farmer.

Furthermore the plea-bargain aspect will certainly include handing over ALL relevant information. ALL. If money were to be recovered (which it won't) it will be included in the confiscation order that was part of the judgment.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: 4to2CentBCphilia on July 04, 2012, 07:36:54 am
I think that if I were him, once I had been caught my first call would be to my seller stating something along the lines of "Now, if you want your name kept out of this whole mess, this is what is going to happen".  Follow that up with a "You sold me fakes!?!  Now I expect to see a refund within the next 24 hours or both the FBI and Interpol will have your name, address and phone number.  Just remember, I have kept you out of the picture so far!"

No chance whatsoever. Remember the seller was masquerading as an illegal excavator (that was Weiss' story after all) and doubtless required payment in cash, and left no forwarding address. I'm about 99% confident of this. Someone - either Weiss or a dealer - has been stung for a million dollars by someone with mud on their hands, pretending to be a Sicilian farmer.

Furthermore the plea-bargain aspect will certainly include handing over ALL relevant information. ALL. If money were to be recovered (which it won't) it will be included in the confiscation order that was part of the judgment.

Agreed. Hard to go to the Mafia and ask for your money back.

Mark


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on July 04, 2012, 07:48:00 am
I certainly would like more and  detailed information on why and on what basis the coins were declared forgeries, and by how many experts. Were scientific tests with electronic microscope or other technique carried out ?
I know that this type of very valuable coins are rarely seen and logically rarely forged. When forged, one or two specimens. But I am beginning to worry more and more about middle( and generally well known) priced coins.  

I understand that one process used in recent times was hubbing a real coin, hand-finishing the dies, and striking on a flan made by melting worn/common coins of the same place and time. As with the method employed by Crawford to show that plated coins are mostly ancient forgeries (they adopted more or less the same technique), the modern versions can be discovered by extremely diligent examination of the "coin" and determining whether it could have been struck by the same dies as struck other known specimens. Hubbing is much less easy in practice than it sounds because every ancient coin misses some details present in the original dies, because of its strength or off-ness of strike and/or progressive die-wear and/or die-slippage during strike. So, careful examination (to the level justified in a million dollar coin) can detect logical inconsistencies between two coins otherwise apparently from the same dies, and if other die matches are known it becomes less and less easy to ensure that the fake dies are consistent with them all. It is exceptionally difficult to reverse a one-way process and create from it the die (including appropriate degrees of die-wear) used for striking a coin.

This is actually good for us. High end fakes can inevitably be unmasked if enough effort is applied.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on July 04, 2012, 08:06:10 am
It is exceptionally difficult to reverse a one-way process and create from it the die (including appropriate degrees of die-wear) used for striking a coin.

This is actually good for us. High end fakes can inevitably be unmasked if enough effort is applied.

To help those who don't fully understand this point, I show below three examples of this "logical inconsistency" problem from my plated coins webpage:  http://andrewmccabe.ancients.info/Plated.html

(http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1103/5164164564_de487195e4.jpg) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ahala_rome/5164164564/)
 
The above two coins cannot, logically, have been struck from the same reverse dies because of the border-dot mismatch between 7pm and 9pm, yet the dies are otherwise identical. Hence the lower coin is a fake produced by hubbing an example of the upper coin. It is logically impossible for them to have been struck from the same dies.

(http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4090/5151325158_9e4f2eca54.jpg) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ahala_rome/5151325158/)

The above two coins cannot, logically, have been struck from the same obverse dies, because the lower coin has a die-break at the bottom of the left-lowest hair lock that is not present on the upper coin, and the upper coin has die-breaks, for example at the front of the neck truncation, not present on the lower coin. It is logically impossible for them to have been struck from the same dies.

(http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1219/5162278068_e19cd64abb.jpg) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ahala_rome/5162278068/)

The above picture shows a die (top) and a coin (bottom) but the coin cannot have been struck from the die, despite them appearing identical, because the die lacks details of the fringe-hair that are present on the coin (i.e. the die was made by hubbing a worn coin). Again, logically impossible for the coin to have been struck from this die.

Although all these examples relate to plated ancient forgeries, the technique in proving logical-impossibilities is in principle the same when determining whether any two coins are struck from the same dies. The more examples are known from these dies, the more difficult it becomes to make a die that side-steps all possible logical impossibilities.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: mwilson603 on July 04, 2012, 09:25:19 am
I think that if I were him, once I had been caught my first call would be to my seller stating something along the lines of "Now, if you want your name kept out of this whole mess, this is what is going to happen".  Follow that up with a "You sold me fakes!?!  Now I expect to see a refund within the next 24 hours or both the FBI and Interpol will have your name, address and phone number.  Just remember, I have kept you out of the picture so far!"

No chance whatsoever. Remember the seller was masquerading as an illegal excavator (that was Weiss' story after all) and doubtless required payment in cash, and left no forwarding address. I'm about 99% confident of this. Someone - either Weiss or a dealer - has been stung for a million dollars by someone with mud on their hands, pretending to be a Sicilian farmer.

Furthermore the plea-bargain aspect will certainly include handing over ALL relevant information. ALL. If money were to be recovered (which it won't) it will be included in the confiscation order that was part of the judgment.

Agreed. Hard to go to the Mafia and ask for your money back.

Mark

And you think that my plan wasn't to get rid of the conniving, greedy physician why? ;)  Of course the chances of him approaching a criminal type, asking for a million bucks, and surviving would be next to nil.  But he strikes me as the sort of greedy person that would be so blinded by the thought of the money, he would put rationality to one side, and end up as landfill.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: TRPOT on July 04, 2012, 09:37:28 am
Passing off fakes of such high value, highly scrutinized coins... very impressive. An Elmyr de Hory of the numismatic world, perhaps?  ;D


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Akropolis on July 04, 2012, 09:51:46 am
I certainly would like more and  detailed information on why and on what basis the coins were declared forgeries, and by how many experts. Were scientific tests with electronic microscope or other technique carried out ?
I know that this type of very valuable coins are rarely seen and logically rarely forged. When forged, one or two specimens. But I am beginning to worry more and more about middle( and generally well known) priced coins. 
FWIW, my source told me that, while the metal was correct, undoubtedly obtained from examples from the period, the "expert" claimed that the molecular/crystalline structure was not a match to other struck coinage of the period. Equipment to ascertain this is not available to common folks like us.
PeteB


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Minos on July 04, 2012, 09:59:50 am
Hope that they are VERY confident in their authentification technique given the ruled fate of these alleged fakes. Kind of odd that all 3 coins submitted to this analysis (scanning electron microscope ?), the only 3 that were, were all condemned...


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on July 04, 2012, 10:03:40 am
Hope that they are VERY confident in their authentification technique given the ruled fate of these alleged fakes. Kind of odd that all 3 coins submitted to this analysis (scanning electron microscope ?), the only 3 that were, were all condemned...

If they are to be destroyed it doesn't actually matter. It is, oddly, best for all concerned (including Dr.Weiss, and including for coin collectors) that they are considered to be fakes.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: benito on July 04, 2012, 10:07:44 am
I certainly would like more and  detailed information on why and on what basis the coins were declared forgeries, and by how many experts. Were scientific tests with electronic microscope or other technique carried out ?
I know that this type of very valuable coins are rarely seen and logically rarely forged. When forged, one or two specimens. But I am beginning to worry more and more about middle( and generally well known) priced coins.  
FWIW, my source told me that, while the metal was correct, undoubtedly obtained from examples from the period, the "expert" claimed that the molecular/crystalline structure was not a match to other struck coinage of the period. Equipment to ascertain this is not available to common folks like us.
PeteB

That's  why I am worried.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on July 04, 2012, 10:13:18 am
.... the "expert" claimed that the molecular/crystalline structure was not a match to other struck coinage of the period. Equipment to ascertain this is not available to common folks like us.
PeteB

That's  why I am worried.

Again, why worry? If there are some superb new techniques to determine fakes, we should all be relieved, and look forward to its increasing use. If the coins were condemned on uncertain grounds, well they are to be destroyed anyway so the test is unrepeatable, and the condemnation is possibly the best thing that might have happened in the circumstances, as there is thus no evidence of recent looting.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: El Reye on July 04, 2012, 05:08:50 pm
If Mr. Weiss was truly duped by the forgers his sentence appears appropriate, however if he were complacent in the fraud by selling the coins his sentence is not near harsh enough. And lets not forget that this incident has brought a disparaging light to ancient coin collecting.

Cameron


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Maffeo on July 04, 2012, 05:26:41 pm
The good side to all this is that it just might make high-end investors/collectors think twice before buying expensive (alleged) coins from shady sources.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on July 05, 2012, 07:43:08 am
If Mr. Weiss was truly duped by the forgers his sentence appears appropriate, however if he were complacent in the fraud by selling the coins his sentence is not near harsh enough. And lets not forget that this incident has brought a disparaging light to ancient coin collecting.

Cameron

Yes. And we don't know the answer. But, presumption of innocence requires that we accept the "was truly duped by the forgers" story. The judge/prosecutor accepted it, and he was more fully aware of the detailed evidence than we are, or ever could be, because we will never know what case the defense planned on presenting. So I think we should accept the sentence as appropriate, and move on.

The good side to all this is that it just might make high-end investors/collectors think twice before buying expensive (alleged) coins from shady sources.

 +++


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: otlichnik on July 05, 2012, 01:33:59 pm
"The "expert" said the molecular crystalline structure was not a match to other struck coins."

Maybe this implies that they were cast using silver from genuine ancient coins melted down. 

But I sure hope that this is a 100% certain, peer adjudicated, verdict of forgery before these poor coins are destroyed.  Much of this type of analytical work for court is in fact is based on likelihoods and balances of probability not absolute certainties.

If there were a trial then the evidence of the tests would become public.  I am not sure what the case is with a plea bargain?  Anyone know?

Shawn 


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Maffeo on July 05, 2012, 04:32:29 pm
More on the Weiss case on the Barford blog.

http://paul-barford.blogspot.com.au/


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: ancientdave on July 05, 2012, 06:38:53 pm
The fact that I hope does not get lost in all of this is the colossal waste of resources and energy by US officials in prosecuting this case. It ought to be a crime that Dr. Weiss is forced to write his ridiculous article, especially in light of the fact that it seems no looting or smuggling of any artifacts occured. It would make more sense for him to be forced to write on the perils of greed and how it can cloud your judgement, tarnish your reputation, and part you with your money. I guess all of a sudden he is reformed, and can now be put to use in damaging a noble hobby that his own reckless behavior never represented. What a crock!

You have to almost begrudgingly admire the tenacity and the chutzpah of the opponents of collecting in this case, even when they lose they find a way to put a winning spin on it. Heads they win, tails we lose.  >:(


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: helcaraxe on July 06, 2012, 02:54:00 am
"Dr. Weiss, please write 100x times: I do not have to smuggle!"

Sounds like something similar. What will that article be worth? Nothing, I expect. As I get it, he has been doublecrossed and that is what comes out of it.

Semper pax
helcaraxe


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Molinari on July 06, 2012, 08:07:26 am
Would it be standard procedure in such a case to determine the authenticity of the allegedly smuggled items?  If not, which side asked that they be authenticated, do you think?

If Dr. Weiss side did, that raises serious questions about his integrity as a numismatist and cast a shadow on the notion that he was duped.

On the other hand, why would the prosecution seek to have the coins authenticated? Just to help prove they were smuggle out of Italy?


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on July 06, 2012, 08:47:59 am
Would it be standard procedure in such a case to determine the authenticity of the allegedly smuggled items?  If not, which side asked that they be authenticated, do you think?

If Dr. Weiss side did, that raises serious questions about his integrity as a numismatist and cast a shadow on the notion that he was duped.

On the other hand, why would the prosecution seek to have the coins authenticated? Just to help prove they were smuggle out of Italy?

I would guess that the defense attorney would have advised his client to ask for a 'very rigorous authentication process', in order to establish facts and provenance (which might have elicited a wink and a nod, or shocked protests, either of which may have been genuine or not, we will never know). Who knows what their reaction was when they were later told "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!". But, as I mentioned earlier in the thread, we also have no idea what the entire defense case was. It might be that Weiss was duped from top to bottom by everyone including his professional numismatic advisors. Or that he had rather more insights. Or that the coins were in fact genuine. We will just never know. All we know is the judgement and sentence.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: mwilson603 on July 06, 2012, 09:35:41 am
Doesn't anyone else find it strange that if the coins are genuinely fake, the auction house wouldn't have done everything possible to authenticate the coins initially?  Certainly for coins like this that had such a high prominence in the press reports, and also given their expected value at auction. 

Wouldn't anyone here have done everything in their power to ensure that there were no question marks over the authenticity of the goods before allowing our names to be associated with the sale? 

If this newly reported method to authenticate the coins was available, wouldn't a high profile auction house have known about it?  And given the lack of real provenance, and the potential auction commission waiting to be had, wouldn't it have been a good investment for the auction house to have had the coins examined in this way?

I think that outside of the questions over Dr Weiss' motives and actual role in this episode, there are also questions that should be asked about the motives and roles of some of the surrounding players in this soap opera of a coin sale.  The auction house, Dr Weiss' advisors, the management of the ANS who have tried to avoid association etc etc

However, for all sorts of reasons, and not many of them good ones, it looks like nothing further will happen on this.

To me, as I'm sure you could tell from my flippant comments above, the whole thing stinks.  Furthermore it gives ammunition to people like Barford to take pot-shots at the genuine and caring collecting community.

regards

Mark


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Molinari on July 06, 2012, 09:43:50 am
I agree, the whole thing does indeed stink. 

Maybe the buyer's fear of forgery was thrown off by Dr.Weiss' comments that he knew where the coins were dug up, and that they were fresh?  Seems like an odd thing to put out there if one knows the coins are authentic.  Why not say, "from an old Swiss collection"?


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: cicerokid on July 06, 2012, 10:28:54 am


Oi ! One of my beloved coins is from an "old Swiss collection"*. Damnation where's my pocket scanning electron microscope?

Mr Barford has many, many good points including the doubt he raised about one particular spectacular $800,000 coin of the ones that were allowed to be sold from Cabinet W.

Frankly the owner of that coin must be looking at it in a new light and what is its value now?

Value has a componant called confidence, it must be torn to shreds.

Cic

* It has a new obverse and re-cut reverse not in Thompson ( ie a totally new coin), ...sounds too good to be true !!!! :)


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on July 06, 2012, 04:50:29 pm
The fourth possibility, which I already mentioned but Mark did not cover, is that the coins are absolutely genuine, but a skeptical expert was consulted to provide evidence (we all know of people in internet discussions who condemn right, left and center, on altogether silly grounds, without knowing much about ancient coins; even on Forvm, which is full of wise girls and boys, that's a daily occurence). Whether the 'expert' was summoned by defense or prosecution makes no difference, but once the coins were condemned, the defense probably wasn't going to complain.

I think it is very possible that the coins were absolutely genuine, that everyone involved was telling the truth, and that they believed they were telling the truth, perhaps even including the muddy-handed middlemen. But no-one would argue against the free get-out-of-jail card, that the 'expert' opinion fortuitously presented.

Still, I've no inside evidence to show that the 'coins were genuine' story is any more or less plausible than any of the others, but I have said said a few times on this thread that we know nothing except the verdict, and, in particular, we know nothing about the defense's case, which might have been excellent, and might have argued all sorts of points that we have no idea about. The essence of a plea-bargain is that defense case never gets presented, and the reason it never gets presented is that the prosecution is so scared about the good points the defense might make that they offer a plea bargain involving 70 hours community work and some creative writing. Really I think the defense must have had a great case.

If I've been insufficiently clear on this, I really don't like the deaf-dumb-blind monkey analogy, in a case where the people the analogy is directed at, will not have any opportunity to present their sides of the story. 1 misdemeanor involving 1 party, 70 hours + creative writing is all we actually know. Fairness and justice calls us to respect and move on, rather than make bigger mountains out of molehills we cannot see.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: ctgcoins on July 06, 2012, 06:04:01 pm
I would be very interested in learning the identity of the "expert" who declared these as fakes.  What credentials does this so-called "expert" possess?  Does the "expert" have any conflict of interest?  Has the evidence been independently examined?


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Maffeo on July 06, 2012, 06:28:23 pm
In this case trying to identify just who did what to whom is a mystery in its own right.

One account alleges that "Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos... employed a scanning electron microscope to determine that three coins, which were the subject of the case, were in fact forgeries and not authentic ancient coins"

http://culturalheritagelawyer.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/weiss-pleads-guilty-to-attempted.html

Another account alleges that Weiss claims that the coins in question were sold to him by "Herbert Kreindler, a Long Island coin dealer".

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/prominent-hand-surgeon-pleads-guilty-selling-phony-ancient-coins-undercover-federal-agent-article-1.1107240#ixzz1zgHsfecQ


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: imperialcoins on July 06, 2012, 07:39:02 pm
I posted to my blog about the "reliability" of SEM for use in authentication:

http://jan.imperialcoins.com/blog/2012/07/05/arnold-weiss-convicted-and-coins-condemned-but-is-the-test-used-reliable/

Back in the late 80's/early 90's the "Black Sea Hoard" was declared genuine using SEM.  I would really like to see the report...

I don't think that there is anything nefarious.  Let's be clear- there is NOTHING illegal about buying or selling ancient coins unless you are aware that they are stolen.  In this case, Dr. Weiss was recorded in an undercover sting saying that he knew the coins were recently dug up.  The real question is- in what context did he say it?  Was he just trying to shut up a pain in the posterior?  Was he saying it tongue in cheek?  Was he trying to add some mystery to generate interest?  Does he just have a quirky sense of humor?  I don't know, the closest I have come to "knowing" him is passing him in the hall before an auction, etc.

The US legal system is designed to STRONGLY encourage plea bargaining.  Dr. Weiss had an awful lot to lose and his plea lets him keep his job(s), medical license and a great deal of money that would have otherwise been spent in his legal defense.

Best,

Alfred


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: mwilson603 on July 07, 2012, 05:03:46 am
The fourth possibility, which I already mentioned but Mark did not cover, is that the coins are absolutely genuine, but a skeptical expert was consulted to provide evidence

Now correct me if I am wrong, but whether anyone believes that the coins are real or not is irrelevant isn't it?  Surely if the coins have been deemed fake in a court of law, and there are no appeals against that ruling, then they are fake.  Isn't that how the law works in America?

I posted to my blog about the "reliability" of SEM for use in authentication:
http://jan.imperialcoins.com/blog/2012/07/05/arnold-weiss-convicted-and-coins-condemned-but-is-the-test-used-reliable/
Back in the late 80's/early 90's the "Black Sea Hoard" was declared genuine using SEM.  I would really like to see the report...

Again, I refer to my above statement.  I don't know much about the "Black Sea Hoard" aside from what I have picked up on Forvm, however in this case the coins have been declared fake by a court of law, and on that judgement rests the "punishment" that has been handed down.  (I'm not aware that the "Black Sea Hoard" ever had a court case about it?)  You can question the reliability of the method, however unless the judgement is over-turned, the coins are deemed fake and therefore the test was deemed reliable.

If I've been insufficiently clear on this, I really don't like the deaf-dumb-blind monkey analogy, in a case where the people the analogy is directed at, will not have any opportunity to present their sides of the story. 1 misdemeanor involving 1 party, 70 hours + creative writing is all we actually know. Fairness and justice calls us to respect and move on, rather than make bigger mountains out of molehills we cannot see.

As I have mentioned, the court has declared the coins fake, there is no appeal against that ruling, and at the moment the coins are going to be destroyed. 
Do we all agree with the verdict?  Obviously not.
Do we have to accept the verdict? Unfortunately yes.

As we have to accept the verdict, and as information is relatively scarce, then there are obvious questions that spin off of the side of the verdict.  As those questions involve people and organisations that have a say in our hobby, naturally I, and others, have voiced some of them.
 
Andrew mentions fairness and justice, and that people core to this case cannot present their side of the story.  Well, justice has been served according to the US legal system, and therefore any questions brought forth from this justice are certainly within the bounds of fairness.  Also, as this is a public forum, as long as their story does not contradict the ruling, there is nothing stopping anyone from presenting their side of the story here.
(Maybe there is a gagging order applied to the verdict?, in which case I reckon that falls nicely under the "Speak no Evil" part mentioned earlier :))

There is a great saying, which is basically "You can't con an honest man".  Without a lack of integrity, a large amount of greed, a complete failure of moral judgement, simply being dishonest, or a combination of all of that to a greater or lesser degree, Dr Weiss could not have been caught out.  The same applies to anyone that came out of this out of pocket!

Finally the word "respect" was mentioned.  The way I see it is that should we show respect for anyone that has been implicated in what has been judged to be essentially a scam?  Even if they are a victim, they will have allowed themselves to become a victim by their own actions.  And surely by asking questions, are we not showing respect for the judgement?

regards

Mark


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on July 07, 2012, 05:37:57 am
The fourth possibility, which I already mentioned but Mark did not cover, is that the coins are absolutely genuine, but a skeptical expert was consulted to provide evidence

Now correct me if I am wrong, but whether anyone believes that the coins are real or not is irrelevant isn't it?  Surely if the coins have been deemed fake in a court of law, and there are no appeals against that ruling, then they are fake.  Isn't that how the law works in America?


That is correct, the coins are now deemed by the court to be fake.

However any experienced numismatist takes such judgments with a pinch of salt. The court says it is fake. But Andrew McCabe simply doesn't know, because he has not seen it published as such by serious numismatists in a serious peer-reviewed journal, and the courts are not established numismatic experts. The circumstances of the case means that no-one on the defense was going to argue against the coins being fake, because to do so would have sent Weiss to prison. It may be that some of them are today thinking "the judge has just ordered some authentic coins to be destroyed".

We just don't know the motives of those involved. Bear in mind that if everyone believed the coins to be genuine, including the entire supply chain from the ground upwards, then it's quite possible that everyone involved in the case (Weiss, his US supplier, the overseas supplier, the auction house) acted in good faith regarding authenticity, and applied their numismatic expertise in a professional manner throughout, except in the sole matter that the judgement related to: everyone believed the coins were recent imports.

This is a reason why I dislike the see-hear-say-no-evil metaphor. We just don't know anything other than the judgement against Weiss, which was for believing he had bought recently imported coins, which he should have known was illegal. No judgement has been made against anyone else. We do not know about private views or motives. The items are to be destroyed so it's unlikely we will have any better evidence in the future. Attempts to slur other people that may have been involved, or to impute motives or to reach conclusions about concealment or about professional standards, is just muck-raking.

Postscript: future unknown events may of course allow us to say more. Weiss' upcoming paper may say more. There may be civil cases. Let's wait for events (or not).


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: benito on July 07, 2012, 05:38:32 am
"Now correct me if I am wrong, but whether anyone believes that the coins are real or not is irrelevant isn't it?  Surely if the coins have been deemed fake in a court of law, and there are no appeals against that ruling, then they are fake.  Isn't that how the law works in America?".

Well. Not the first time an innocent man has spent years in jail. Or sent to the gas chamber.



Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: TRPOT on July 07, 2012, 06:53:19 am
I assume the SEM operator knew nothing about ancient coins. I wonder who provided the coins used for comparison.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: 4to2CentBCphilia on July 07, 2012, 07:36:41 am

This is a reason why I dislike the see-hear-say-no-evil metaphor. We just don't know anything other than the judgement against Weiss, which was for believing he had bought recently imported coins, which he should have known was illegal. No judgement has been made against anyone else. We do not know about private views or motives. The items are to be destroyed so it's unlikely we will have any better evidence in the future. Attempts to slur other people that may have been involved, or to impute motives or to reach conclusions about concealment or about professional standards, is just muck-raking.


Andrew

You can't have your cake and eat it to.

SOMEBODY here is guilty of something, EVERYTHING is not a "lets wait and see".........at this point conclusions CAN be made.

The fact that only DR Weiss was charged and tried does not exonerate the auction house in any way.........how do you leap to that conclusion? The government goes after whom they can make the best case against. The fact that they only went after Weiss does not mean the auction house was not completely lax or sloppy.

You are worried about the reputation of the auction house being slandered.............REALLY? Are you serious?

Explain to me the professional standards that lead to "fake' coins being vetted and listed for hunderd of thousands of dollars in  a widely promoted auction?

Or, maybe they are real (and this is a conspiracy to get the good doctor a lighter sentence)..........then explain the professional standards that lead to rare, highly expensive coins, having their dubious provenance ignored in a world where we now know provenance is extremely important.

The FACT is that the auction house did not do it's job properly on these coins. .

It's naive...........to think the value of the coins and the status of the seller did not blind the auction house. Because if it didn't blind them..........then it means that they stink at their job..........and thus have no reputation to tarnish.


I don't work for the auction houses and dealers and I do not try to curry favor with them by posting excuses on their behalf.  

I do expect them to do their jobs correctly, in order to justify those big auction fees....... and to EARN those lofty reputations you are trying to defend............. for them.

And muck-raking??? That made me chuckle. Pointing out that somebody did their job poorly and that their reputation is justifiably tarnished....................................is not muck raking. I am not digging for dirt, it is all out there in the papers for all to see.

Here is another photo that does not involve primates.............but it makes the same point.

(http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_qVb6nqvLoGI/S7sk9PABdxI/AAAAAAAAABg/8a2r-QiJONE/s320/Head+in+Sand.gif)

BR

Mark



Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: mwilson603 on July 07, 2012, 07:55:43 am
I actually don't disagree wholly with both you and Benito, Andrew.  I am not saying that I completely agree with the verdict of fake.  In fact it seems far too easy, and doesn't answer why a foreign state laid claim to the coins in the first place.  What I said is that legally the coins are now deemed fake.

It is not muck raking to state logical conclusions.  e.g. If the coins are real, then the auction house did NOT do it's due diligence correctly in verifying the provenance.  If the coins are fake, then the auction house did NOT do what it could to validate the authenticity.  That is surely logic?

I am a simple person, and I like to see a court case answer the who, what, where, why, how etc.  When a case closes with more outstanding questions than answers, I will believe that something is wrong.

Let's not forget, Dr Weiss believed that he was doing something wrong.  He admitted as much in the recorded conversation, and whilst Alfred hypothesises that it may have been said tongue in cheek, he has to have agreed the guilty verdict for the plea bargain.

Also, whether it was a scam, or a failed smuggling attempt, for something of this value I personally believe that there has to have been more than 1 person involved who had full knowledge of what was happening.

I agree that we will probably never know exactly what happened here.  However, there are people involved in this that have remained suspiciously silent, and there are definitely questions that should be asked.

regards

Mark

P.S. I just saw the post made by the other Mark as I went to post, so apologies if I am duplicating some of that


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on July 07, 2012, 08:14:24 am
I understand a lot of the thoughts running around peoples heads, but express surprise or distaste seems an "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!" reaction.

We all know that coins come from source countries, and are sold by US dealers in the full knowledge that they probably came from source countries after 1970. Most coin collectors take the view that the foreign laws and regulations governing this are an ass, and continue to buy coins knowing full-well that most have come from source countries after the 1970 cutoff date (and, are generally compliant with their own countries laws in doing so). So I don't think it is reasonable, as a coin collector, to then blame an auction house for supporting such behaviour. It's reminiscent of smokers blaming tobacco companies. The auction houses and suppliers just behaved as we always expect and want them to behave. Pointing this out doesn't amount to my defending the auction houses, it amounts to reminding ourselves of the reality of all collecting.

So I think it's unjust to lampoon those involved if you are yourself a coin collector. If you believe that the law, in Italy and Greece, is an ass, and the law in the UK and Netherlands is very sensible, and if you collect under precepts that make perfect sense in the UK or NL (which support private discovery, collecting and ownership, subject only to reporting discoveries), then I think it is not right to pretend indignation and outrage when an auction house and another collector acts on the same basis.

It may well be that there was more unacceptable wrong-doing involved than that which Weiss admitted to. But let's let it play out and see if a civil case arises, or if Weiss' essay reveals more. When more information is revealed, let's then discuss it.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on July 07, 2012, 08:30:08 am
I'd like to try and defuse this escalating non-row if at all possible. I think that Andrew, Mark and Mark are bringing no new facts into play, but each of us is presenting the same basic material from different angles - by choice.

That makes excellent debating and it helps those not involved to get some insights into the issues. But I respect where some of the other views are coming from and I guess I've said enough on this (and have just edited out a couple of potentially inflammatory comments in my last note). Others may wish to continue!

Andrew


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: 4to2CentBCphilia on July 07, 2012, 08:42:47 am
I understand a lot of the thoughts running around peoples heads, but the level of negative views being expressed are pure Casablanca (also in terms of dramatics).

We all know that coins come from source countries, and are sold by US dealers in the full knowledge that they probably came from source countries after 1970. To express surprise or distaste is an "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!" reaction. Most coin collectors take the view that the foreign laws and regulations governing this are an ass, and continue to buy coins knowing full-well that most have come from source countries after the 1970 cutoff date (and, are generally compliant with their own countries laws in doing so). So I don't think it is reasonable, as a coin collector, to then blame an auction house for supporting such behaviour. It's reminiscent of smokers blaming tobacco companies. The auction houses and suppliers just behaved as we always expect and want them to behave. Pointing this out doesn't amount to my defending the auction houses, it amounts to reminding ourselves of the reality of all collecting.

So I think it's hypocritical to lampoon those involved using the three-monkeys metaphor if you are yourself a coin collector. If you believe that the law, in Italy and Greece, is an ass, and the law in the UK and Netherlands is very sensible, and if you collect under precepts that make perfect sense in the UK or NL (which support private discovery, collecting and ownership, subject only to reporting discoveries), then you can't pretend indignation and outrage when an auction house and another collector acts on the same basis. If you truly are indignant and outraged, then stop collecting this instant, mail all your coins back to Italy, turn yourself into the police and seek a plea bargain, some hours community service and some essay writing.

It may well be that there was more unacceptable wrong-doing involved than that which Weiss admitted to. But let's let it play out and see if a civil case arises, or if Weiss' essay reveals more. When more information is revealed, let's then discuss it.

But, as things stand, Outraged Indignation = Hypocrisy if you are a collector.

Andrew

Well, in fact, I make a serious effort to avoid coins that might violate the MOU. I sold my Sicilian coins a few years back when this MOU muck all started to surface and I became educated to the issues.  I  only bought my Nero after I was certain it was not included in the MOU.  There are posts here and elsewhere, where I stated such when I was selling my coins and buying my new ones. I stopped bidding on GM auctions after they were implicated in the Sicilian-Mafia looting case a few years back. I also changed to including collecting English hammered coins and medals in order to avoid this hassle.

You CAN collect and be ethical Andrew.

Mark





Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on July 07, 2012, 08:56:41 am
Andrew

Well, in fact, I make a serious effort to avoid coins that might violate the MOU. I sold my Sicilian coins a few years back when this MOU muck all started to surface and I became educated to the issues.  I  only bought my Nero after I was certain it was not included in the MOU.  There are posts here and elsewhere, where I stated such when I was selling my coins and buying my new ones. I stopped bidding on GM auctions after they were implicated in the Sicilian-Mafia looting case a few years back. I also changed to including collecting English hammered coins and medals in order to avoid this hassle.

You CAN collect and be ethical Andrew.

Mark

Fair enough. Though perhaps this is more to do with legal compliance than ethics. As I live in the UK, and as I'm completely unaffected by the MOU (such MOUs are illegal under EU free trade laws - the UK may not ban any form of exports from Italy, and Italy may not refuse an export permit for non-significant items, although they can be v  e  r  y  s  l  o  w), the only measure I need to take is to ensure that I buy from Italian dealers who offer export permits. There are only three significant Italian (non-San Marino) dealers I buy from, and each offer export permits. I don't do this for ethics reasons. I do it to avoid purchases being confiscated, now or in the future. I would presume US dealers also comply with US law or else people would be hauling them into court. I would not suggest otherwise.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on July 07, 2012, 09:09:58 am
Interestingly, I just bought this coin from Italy:

(http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8426/7520154282_c7b88b7780.jpg) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ahala_rome/7520154282/)

It is an extremely rare type, a first Punic war issue of the Romans, probably minted in Messana. It came with an export permit issued by the Italian government. There is nothing legally or ethically that stops me owning this coin. Yet its scope is covered by the US MOU. Makes sense I guess(?)


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: areich on July 07, 2012, 09:20:41 am
How hard is it to get these permits and are they irrevocable (as far as anything is, of course)? I saw an auction by a major auction house, I don't remember which, and they had quite a lot of coins on offer, all of which they had permits for.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: benito on July 07, 2012, 09:22:52 am
Interestingly, I just bought this coin from Italy:

(http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8426/7520154282_c7b88b7780.jpg) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ahala_rome/7520154282/)

It is an extremely rare type, a first Punic war issue of the Romans, probably minted in Messana. It came with an export permit issued by the Italian government. There is nothing legally or ethically that stops me owning this coin. Yet its scope is covered by the US MOU. Makes sense I guess(?)

Total sense.


IV.  Import Restrictions
Objects from categories described in the Designated List may enter the U.S. only if they have an export permit issued by Italy, or documentation indicating that they left Italy prior to the effective date of the restriction: January 23, 2001. As of January 19, 2011, coins of Italian types constitute a subcategory of archaeological metal objects subject to import restriction.

You can sleep peacefully tonight with no pangs of conscience.



Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: benito on July 07, 2012, 09:36:11 am
I bought this coin from an Italian auction house and it came with the Italian Government export permit,despite being possibly one of the finest known.. Never had any problem with Italy.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on July 07, 2012, 09:41:27 am
How hard is it to get these permits and are they irrevocable (as far as anything is, of course)? I saw an auction by a major auction house, I don't remember which, and they had quite a lot of coins on offer, all of which they had permits for.

The major Italian dealers offer such permits as standard. They come in various formats, either with the permit attached, sometimes with a photo of the coin, or with a generic statement somewhere or other (invoice, auction listing, auction terms) that exported coins will have had appropriate permitting. In the latter case, which applied to this coin, the firm obtains a permit for its entire auction but you don't get the paperwork, although I did one time but as the paperwork was generic it was not of much use for proving entry to the US. Perhaps US buyers get something more specific. As I don't care about whether my coins ever enter the US, that's not a problem for me.

For San Marino dealers, it's a different issue. They won't issue Italian permits, and it's up to San Marino to ensure that business activities are legally conducted in their country. Italy is not allowed to impede mail from San Marino, and anything exported from San Marino can be imported anywhere in Europe. So, no permit but also no problem for European buyers.

As for getting a permit in retrospect: I suggest it's not worthwhile ever trying. The only situation it would be useful is for sales into the USA. Remember, as you live in Germany, and as EU law is very clear that trade in minor items CANNOT legally be impeded, once you physically own the coin and have it with you in Germany, then you are clear.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: areich on July 07, 2012, 09:45:10 am
I'm not worrying for myself, I'm just interested to know how hard it is, for the seller, to get the permit. If it turns out it's just a bureaucratic formality and most coins will easily get a permit it would be a good thing for American collectors. But I wouldn't be so sure that the laws here won't ever change.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on July 07, 2012, 09:49:09 am
I'm not worrying for myself, I'm just interested to know how hard it is, for the seller, to get the permit. If it turns out it's just a bureaucratic formality and most coins will easily get a permit it would be a good thing for American collectors. But I wouldn't be so sure that the laws here won't ever change.

It seems that, since the US MOU was adopted, it is just a bureaucratic formality and most coins will easily get a permit (dekadrachms excepted), within 45 days or so, often covering a complete sale, but only if you are an Italian dealer. There is obviously no incentive for the Italian government to give permits to items that are already outside the country, and that don't benefit Italian commerce. So the permits are of limited use in practice, since almost all significant coins that might come up for auction do not go through the hands of the very few Italian dealers who are still brave enough to fight the bureaucracy that selling coins involves.



Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on July 07, 2012, 10:04:38 am
Here are the boilerplate terms offered by one such dealer (google translation):

Successful bidders are required to comply with all laws and regulations in force in relation to objects declared to be of particularly important historical or artistic interest. The export of coins of special  interest by tenderers not resident in Italy is regulated by specific customs regulations. Waiting times for   free-movement permit is about 45 days from the date of the request to the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Office of Export. The license application is submitted to the Department upon payment of the lot and  explicit consent of the buyer. Seller does not assume any liability to the bidders in connection with any  restrictions on exports of the sold lots, nor for any licenses or permits that the buyer must obtain  according to Italian law. The buyer in case the Italian state exercises the right of first refusal, can not  expect from the seller any refund of auction fees.

So it seems that the state has a first refusal right, and if exercised, the buyer risks having to pay auction fees (but not the price of the coin). It does not say how coins are 'declared to be of particularly important historical or artistic interest' but I guess that involves the auction house showing the catalogue to the ministry.

Anyway, the bottom line is, export from Italy is routine, even for items covered by the US MOU (which does make one wonder why the MOU exists), but I think the sellers are supposed to alert the ministry to anything of special significance. Obviously the Weiss coins would count as significant. Less obviously, mine and benito's coins are in fact significant but were not flagged as such.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: imperialcoins on July 07, 2012, 12:10:03 pm
Let's clear one thing up- he had to AGREE to say these things as part of the plea agreement, he does NOT need to agree with them.  Here is what I posted on Moneta-L:

No, as part of a plea agreement a defendant usually must read a statement in
open court. This statement is almost always approved by the prosecutor and in
many cases they go through several drafts going as far as dictating changes
before approving them. So again, his choices were quite limited. Either fight
a battle that he could potentially lose and if he won, he would still lose
financially and emotionally, or accept a plea deal that would allow him to keep
his life somewhat intact.

The details are sketchy. Excerpts from transcripts of a wire are not good at
spelling out intent or indicating whether or not he was being serious, humorous
or annoyed and sarcastic. I seriously doubt that a serious dealer would brag
that a coin was "dug up yesterday".

Don't get me wrong, he may well be guilty as sin. But I will not make a
judgement call based on the [lack of] evidence presented.

I know many good people that were strong armed into admitting to crimes they never committed, some of them quite horrible, just to avoid the costly process of going to court and risk serious jail time.  In one case, the District Attorney KNEW that he had not committed the offense, but because of a PREVIOUS plea agreement where my friend signed a piece of paper to avoid jail time and which he agreed he would be automatically plead guilty if he was charged with a similar crime, the DA's office basically told him- "OK, you MAY be innocent this time, but we still have you for the last time." 

Alfred


I actually don't disagree wholly with both you and Benito, Andrew.  I am not saying that I completely agree with the verdict of fake.  In fact it seems far too easy, and doesn't answer why a foreign state laid claim to the coins in the first place.  What I said is that legally the coins are now deemed fake.

It is not muck raking to state logical conclusions.  e.g. If the coins are real, then the auction house did NOT do it's due diligence correctly in verifying the provenance.  If the coins are fake, then the auction house did NOT do what it could to validate the authenticity.  That is surely logic?

I am a simple person, and I like to see a court case answer the who, what, where, why, how etc.  When a case closes with more outstanding questions than answers, I will believe that something is wrong.

Let's not forget, Dr Weiss believed that he was doing something wrong.  He admitted as much in the recorded conversation, and whilst Alfred hypothesises that it may have been said tongue in cheek, he has to have agreed the guilty verdict for the plea bargain.

Also, whether it was a scam, or a failed smuggling attempt, for something of this value I personally believe that there has to have been more than 1 person involved who had full knowledge of what was happening.

I agree that we will probably never know exactly what happened here.  However, there are people involved in this that have remained suspiciously silent, and there are definitely questions that should be asked.

regards

Mark

P.S. I just saw the post made by the other Mark as I went to post, so apologies if I am duplicating some of that


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Maffeo on July 07, 2012, 04:35:40 pm

For San Marino dealers, it's a different issue. They won't issue Italian permits, and it's up to San Marino to ensure that business activities are legally conducted in their country. Italy is not allowed to impede mail from San Marino, and anything exported from San Marino can be imported anywhere in Europe. So, no permit but also no problem for European buyers.


I'm sure many have noticed that numismatic auction houses in San Marino have multiplied like rabbits over the last fifteen years or so - back then there were two, now there's roughly a dozen - and over the years I have dealt with just about all of them.

Some of the material offered by these houses is recycled from other European auction houses (especially German and Swiss), but the overwhelming part comes from Italian dealers and collectors. Now, although otherwise completely integrated in the Italian bank and postal systems, S. Marino is technically a foreign country. So, in effect, one does not need an Italian export licence to take numismatic material from Italy into S. Marino, but nor do you need an Italian export licence to take such from S. Marino to other countries. Obviously, the S. Marino houses are booming... I wonder what are the likely consequences of all this if one were to import in, say, the US, aes rude which are often offered by these houses and are most likely of Italian provenance and their import into the US (to remain with the example) is prohibited by the MOU?


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Andrew McCabe on July 08, 2012, 12:01:43 am
I wonder what are the likely consequences of all this if one were to import in, say, the US, aes rude which are often offered by these houses and are most likely of Italian provenance and their import into the US (to remain with the example) is prohibited by the MOU?

The MOU relates to the coin, and not where it came from. If the type is listed in Rutter, Historia Numorum Italy (or in a certain Sicilian handbook) then it is covered, regardless where it is posted from - Italy, San Marino or Canada.

Now, although otherwise completely integrated in the Italian bank and postal systems, S. Marino is technically a foreign country. So, in effect, one does not need an Italian export licence to take numismatic material from Italy into S. Marino, but nor do you need an Italian export licence to take such from S. Marino to other countries.

I would assume that the coin dealers do need an Italian export licence to bring coins into San Marino that they intend to export. Whether they actually get one is a different matter. The systems are less integrated than one thinks - my packages from San Marino come with San Marino stamps (separate postal system); the bank accounts are San Marino accounts that start with SM... rather than Italian ones that start IT...; San Marino uses the euro and is permitted to issue small numbers of euro coins but is not formally part of the euro zone and thus is not covered by the agreement on free bank transfers for domestic customers etc. (separate banking system). There is a local court system for civil cases. It is not even a member of the European Union but has agreed a separate partial-scope customs agreement with the EU. I suspect the latter has some clauses relating to cultural items.

San Marino is thus really foreign for the purposes we are discussing. I don't know how the coin dealers regularise their imports and subsequent exports. Perhaps Italy doesn't get annoyed with SM so long as they are not selling Dekadrachms or other high end coins.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Lloyd Taylor on August 04, 2012, 12:23:32 am
For completeness of this thread..... not to overlook the third coin that was determined by the Court to be fake in addition to the two seized at the outset...

Triton XV Lot 1010 Chalkidian League Tetradrachm.... with a similar non-specific provenance as Lots 1008 ( the Akragas Dekadrachm) and 1009 (the Katane Tetrdrachm)

Lot 1010 provenance:  Purchased privately from an American collection in 2008 ... an identical provenance to the fake Katane Tetra of the preceding Lot.  

So far much of the focus has been on the "looted Italian" material, but the fakery extended beyond this mythical source to Macedonian material as well.

Interestingly, it was only Lots 1008-1010 of the Cabinet W collection that possessed non-verifiable, non-specific provenances, so I dare say that the cataloger must have know that  something was up! The other 16 lots of Cabinet W were all detailed and verifiable provenances.

http://www.forumancientcoins.com/fakes/displayimage.php?pos=-13354


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: cliff_marsland on August 04, 2012, 02:59:47 pm
I hope Dr. Weiss learned to buy expensive coins from only the most reputable dealers, although he was clearly the victim, having had his private property rights violated, and also his due process, for in coin terms - it's Vichy France, guilty until proven innocent.  Good thing he wasn't drinking a large soda while having the coin, or else he might have been beheaded in NYC.  It's certainly not on my short list of places to visit or live.  

Lesson two he should learn, only sell expensive coins underground.  Way to go, Wizards of Smart, encouraging people to avoid reputable places in fear of being tossed in the gulag.  My coins are peasant-level compared to his, but if I had one of those, I sure wouldn't  be stupid enough to put it in a major auction house and have some putz steal it.

I would be interested in how they were determined to be fakes and by whom.



Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Dino on August 04, 2012, 06:59:21 pm
I think as collectors that we should try to aggressively protect our right to collect ancient coins.  I also think, however, that we lose credibility if we refuse to acknowledge that someone in our community has violated the law, where it is obvious that that is the case.

I hope Dr. Weiss learned to buy expensive coins from only the most reputable dealers, although he was clearly the victim,

Victim???  Quotes from one article follow.  There are many, many, consistent articles on the issue.

"Under Italian law, antiquities found there after 1909 can't be removed from the country. But Weiss said in a secretly recorded conversation: "I know this is a fresh coin. This was dug up a few years ago," according to the complaint.

*****

He acknowledged that he knew what to look for, was aware of Italy's antiquities rules and believed that two other coins that he had in his possession at the auction had been found after the 1909 deadline. All three coins were described as having been found in Sicily.

*****

"I believed that the coin was authentic" in each instance, he said.

having had his private property rights violated,

How so?  If you knowingly buy something you believe is stolen, when someone takes it back from you, are they violating your property rights?

and also his due process, for in coin terms - it's Vichy France, guilty until proven innocent. 

No.  Not at all.  He was only arrested after it was established that there was probable cause to believe that he had violated the law.  Frankly, the American justice system, though not perfect is one of the best, if not the best in the world.

Good thing he wasn't drinking a large soda while having the coin, or else he might have been beheaded in NYC.  It's certainly not on my short list of places to visit or live. 

Bloomberg's recent soda and baby formula hi-jinks are certainly silly.  I certainly wouldn't undertand why it would keep anyone from visiting NYC, though.  Wonderful restaurants, museums, theaters, shopping, hotels, and so on.  To each his own, however.

Lesson two he should learn, only sell expensive coins underground.  Way to go, Wizards of Smart, encouraging people to avoid reputable places in fear of being tossed in the gulag.  My coins are peasant-level compared to his, but if I had one of those, I sure wouldn't  be stupid enough to put it in a major auction house and have some putz steal it.

This conclusion, as set forth above, is based on clearly and obviously erroneous premises.  As a result, the conclusion itself is wrong.


I would be interested in how they were determined to be fakes and by whom.

Me too.  That would be interesting to know.  I've read some stories on it, but haven't seen specifics.



Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Jay GT4 on August 04, 2012, 07:27:00 pm
Dino I agree completely.

I heard from early on that these coins were fake, even before the arrest.  The people who told me wouldn't elaborate.  Selling your fakes in a prestigious auction is one way of "laundering" the coin. 


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: TRPOT on August 04, 2012, 07:47:00 pm
I think as collectors that we should try to aggressively protect our right to collect ancient coins.  I also think, however, that we lose credibility if we refuse to acknowledge that someone in our community has violated the law, where it is obvious that that is the case.



I agree 100% on this. Defending shady behavior just gives the anti-collecting crowd more ammunition. They have plenty enough as it is.


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: benito on August 05, 2012, 12:31:54 am
I think as collectors that we should try to aggressively protect our right to collect ancient coins.  I also think, however, that we lose credibility if we refuse to acknowledge that someone in our community has violated the law, where it is obvious that that is the case.

I hope Dr. Weiss learned to buy expensive coins from only the most reputable dealers, although he was clearly the victim,

Victim???  Quotes from one article follow.  There are many, many, consistent articles on the issue.

"Under Italian law, antiquities found there after 1909 can't be removed from the country. But Weiss said in a secretly recorded conversation: "I know this is a fresh coin. This was dug up a few years ago," according to the complaint.

*****

He acknowledged that he knew what to look for, was aware of Italy's antiquities rules and believed that two other coins that he had in his possession at the auction had been found after the 1909 deadline. All three coins were described as having been found in Sicily.

*****

"I believed that the coin was authentic" in each instance, he said.

having had his private property rights violated,

How so?  If you knowingly buy something you believe is stolen, when someone takes it back from you, are they violating your property rights?

and also his due process, for in coin terms - it's Vichy France, guilty until proven innocent. 

No.  Not at all.  He was only arrested after it was established that there was probable cause to believe that he had violated the law.  Frankly, the American justice system, though not perfect is one of the best, if not the best in the world.

Good thing he wasn't drinking a large soda while having the coin, or else he might have been beheaded in NYC.  It's certainly not on my short list of places to visit or live. 

Bloomberg's recent soda and baby formula hi-jinks are certainly silly.  I certainly wouldn't undertand why it would keep anyone from visiting NYC, though.  Wonderful restaurants, museums, theaters, shopping, hotels, and so on.  To each his own, however.

Lesson two he should learn, only sell expensive coins underground.  Way to go, Wizards of Smart, encouraging people to avoid reputable places in fear of being tossed in the gulag.  My coins are peasant-level compared to his, but if I had one of those, I sure wouldn't  be stupid enough to put it in a major auction house and have some putz steal it.

This conclusion, as set forth above, is based on clearly and obviously erroneous premises.  As a result, the conclusion itself is wrong.


I would be interested in how they were determined to be fakes and by whom.

Me too.  That would be interesting to know.  I've read some stories on it, but haven't seen specifics.




 +++   +++   +++


Title: Re: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney
Post by: Nemonater on August 05, 2012, 06:05:24 pm
  .........NYC.  It's certainly not on my short list of places to visit or live.  

Total visitors to NYC 2000-2011*
Visitors (international and domestic) to New York City in 2011:
50.9 million
Visitors (international and domestic) to New York City in 2010:
48.8 million
Visitors (international and domestic) to New York City in 2009:
45.6 million

Evidently a few disagree....