Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Coins returning to Greece from Rhode Island collector

Coins that had passed through the hands of a North American private collector have been returned to Greece ("U.S. returning ancient Greek coins after Manhattan DA prosecutes prominent collector", New York Daily News August 4, 2014). It is reported:
The coins were part of a case against noted Rhode Island hand surgeon and coin aficionado Dr. Arnold-Peter Weiss, whose January 2012 arrest during a coin auction at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel roiled the numismatic world.  
An orthopedics professor at Brown University's Alpert Medical School and author of a hand-surgery textbook, Weiss also had been on a coin collector and investor for 35 years and had served as on the board of the American Numismatic Society.  
He later pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of stolen property.
LM reported on the initial story back in January 2012 (as it broke during the AIA Annual Conference). The "haul" included three modern creations that may have been identified as a result of "Operation Ghelas". Issues relating to Weiss' plea were also reported in July 2012. It is also important to remember that Weiss is reported, by the ANS, to be "one of the founding Partners of the second incarnation of the firm Nomos AG, of Zürich, Switzerland". Weiss' role in the Swiss based company still features on their website. Does this case have any implications for Nomos AG?

There are some key issues that need to be addressed. How far have sophisticated numismatic forgeries penetrated the market? Do collectors, such as Dr Weiss, feel comfortable handling material that they have (apparently) been informed was fresh out of the ground? Is the numismatic market as toxic as that for antiquities? Will the ANS be making a statement about the case? What are the full documented collecting histories for the coins that Weiss has presented to the ANS?

Further details on the Weiss case can be found here.


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