Wednesday 4 July 2012

Coin dealer pleads guilty

In January this year coin dealer Arnold Peter C. Weiss, a founding partner of "the second incarnation of the firm Nomos A.G., of Zürich", was arrested and charged. It has now been reported that Weiss has pleaded guilty ("Prominent hand surgeon pleads guilty to selling phony ancient coins to undercover agent", New York Daily News July 3, 2012).
The renowned doctor pleaded guilty Tuesday in Manhattan Criminal Court to criminal possession of the three Fifth Century B.C. Sicilian coins. 
Weiss said he thought the coins were real, but admitted he knew he violated Italy’s Code of Cultural and Landscape Heritage, which makes it a crime to remove from the country anything that has been unearthed after 1909. 
“I know that there are foreign statutes that prohibit the removal of antiquities, including coins from countries,” Weiss said in court.

Apart from 70 hours of community service, the court has imposed a creative task on Weiss.

Under a plea agreement with Manhattan prosecutors, Ivy League surgeon Arnold-Peter Weiss, 52, has to write an article detailing the widespread corruption among collectors selling and trading rare coins without the proper paperwork. 
Weiss, a professor of Orthopaedics at Brown University and a trustee of the American Numismatic Society, must also chronicle how the anything-goes atmosphere threatens historical records and he must suggest ways of policing the hobby. 
“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,” said Joan Vollero, a spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr.

This should be an interesting read. The twist in the case is that the coins turned out to be modern creations.

Weiss had earlier opposed any restrictions on the movement of coins from Italy.

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