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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 40944 times)
benito
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« Reply #125 on: July 07, 2012, 09:22:52 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(?)

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.

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benito
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« Reply #126 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.
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Andrew McCabe
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« Reply #127 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.
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areich
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« Reply #128 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.
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« Reply #129 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.

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Andrew McCabe
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« Reply #130 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.
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« Reply #131 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
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« Reply #132 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?
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Andrew McCabe
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« Reply #133 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.
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Lloyd Taylor
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« Reply #134 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
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« Reply #135 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.

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« Reply #136 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.

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Jay GT4
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« Reply #137 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. 
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« Reply #138 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.
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benito
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« Reply #139 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.




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« Reply #140 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....
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