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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Ancient Coin Forum (Moderator: Dr. Danny S. Jones)  |  Topic: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: 2 coins of Cabinet W seized in New York by District Attorney  (Read 40917 times)
otlichnik
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« Reply #100 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 
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« Reply #101 on: July 05, 2012, 04:32:29 pm »

More on the Weiss case on the Barford blog.

http://paul-barford.blogspot.com.au/
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« Reply #102 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.  Angry
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« Reply #103 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
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Molinari
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« Reply #104 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?
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« Reply #105 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.
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« Reply #106 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
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« Reply #107 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"?
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« Reply #108 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 !!!! Smiley
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« Reply #109 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.
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« Reply #110 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?
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« Reply #111 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
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« Reply #112 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
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« Reply #113 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 Smiley)

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
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« Reply #114 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).
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« Reply #115 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.

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« Reply #116 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.
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« Reply #117 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.



BR

Mark

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« Reply #118 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
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« Reply #119 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.
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« Reply #120 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
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« Reply #121 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



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« Reply #122 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.
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« Reply #123 on: July 07, 2012, 09:09:58 am »

Interestingly, I just bought this coin from Italy:



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(?)
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« Reply #124 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.
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