Roma Numismatics, Richard Beale Arrested.

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Mat, Mar 6, 2023.

  1. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

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  3. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    I love Roma Auctions!
  4. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    What's that got to do with the guy being arrested?:rolleyes:
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  5. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    He runs Roma Auction House. I have always had great dealings with him and his auction staff. I wish the zealots would go after museums like the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg/ full of stuff Soviets looted from Spain/ WW2/ plus what they are now hauling out of Russian occupied Ukraine. Richard Beale was arrested/ does not mean he is guilty.
  6. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Guess you didn't read it, he pretty much admitted it.
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  7. expat

    expat Remember you are unique, just like everyone else

    Like the Weisse fellow from Nomos, he will probably make restitution and a public apology and serve no time. He is the sole director of Roma and owns at least 75% of the company. Bankruptcy is another possibility.
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  8. green18

    green18 Unknown member Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

    Glad I ain't Italian.......(devil)
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  9. Evan Saltis

    Evan Saltis Helpful? Click *Best Answer*! Supporter

    Not saying I support theft of artifacts, but the red tape surrounding importation of coins, specifically from Italy, is becoming ridiculous.
  10. GinoLR

    GinoLR Well-Known Member

    He is accused of fabricating false provenances for the rare coins he auctions.
    I have been pissed off by the looting of a hoard found in Gaza in 2013 and 2017. Many exceptional Alexander decadrachms had been smuggled out to Israel and shared between two antiquities traffickers, a Palestinian from Gaza living in UAE and a well-known Jordanian-Canadian trafficker (convicted in USA) who collaborated with Roma Numismatics. A lot of these decadrachms were auctioned by Roma Numismatics with bogus provenances such as "from a private Canadian collection" or same kind of bs.
    The Gaza house of the Palestinian trafficker has been raided lately by the police and they could recover a lot of coins from the hoard that had not been smuggled to Israel yet: dozens of tetradrachms and allegedly some decadrachms (but I did not see their photos).
    For the decadrachms that ended in the share of the Jordanian-Canadian person, and were auctioned by Roma Numismatics, I am very happy to read that Mr Beale admitted their provenances were fake.
    At last !!!
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  11. Evan Saltis

    Evan Saltis Helpful? Click *Best Answer*! Supporter

    Sounds like many of our former members might have something to worry about.

    They have an ethical dilemma on their hands... Some of them were very adamant about ensuring provenance as to not be complicit in theft of artifacts...

    But, I am confident they won't do the right thing... I should check up on them :rolleyes:
  12. GinoLR

    GinoLR Well-Known Member

    Collectors do not only collect ancient coins just for the beauty of the thing, like bunches of flowers in vases on the dining table. They also research about them, read numismatic literature, they are interested in the history behind the coins. But how can academics work if the material is taken away from within their reach, if information and metadata are purposely destroyed?
    Coins have a provenance, I do not mean which collection they were previously in but where they have been found. The nicest specimens were part of hoards, and it's critical to know where a hoard was discovered, in what context, which coins were in it. When a hoard has been studied and published, it can be dispersed on the market or kept by some public academic institution like a university or a museum, so future numismatists will be able to study and analyse the coins with new methods. In all events, the top priority is the preservation of the coins' metadata.
    Looters and traffickers just destroy all this info. They act like those who melt ancient gold coins to cast an anonymous ingot which will be easier to sell than a very rare coin. It's just erasing history, library arson, ISIS style destruction of non-islamic heritage. And this just for personal profit. Civilized nations cannot turn a blind eye in the name of free trade. When an important auctioning firm like Roma Numismatics cynically introduces extremely rare coins in the market with false informations about their provenance and their context, they are acting as rogue traffickers.
    I personally don't know Mr Beale, never met him, never bought anything from Roma Numismatics, but I know that the firm has been ill-reputed for some time now. Some major bidders (top collectors, public institutions) refrain from bidding for extremely rare and important coins auctioned by Roma, for they don't trust their catalogues, the alleged provenances, and suspect the sale could be found illegal some day. In London, Roma Numismatics employees (even Richard Beale himself probably) have been warned. Questions were asked by journalists and academics, but the only answer they got was: "prove it".
    In London the laws are in favour of unlawful cultural property concealers and handlers. I know a London collector who possessed in full light two objects stolen from antiquities storage facilities, which was proved by photographs, but had the right to keep them just by pretending he had bought them not knowing their origin.
    This is why Richard Beale was arrested in New York, when he could quietly run his business in London, laughing at those who dared ask questions. Same for the person from whom he had bought looted coins, "a convicted antiquities trafficker, who is known to the District Attorney's Office", a guy who used to run his business in the USA, was caught and convicted some years ago, after what he moved to Canada and carried on his business in London, where it's safer to do it.
  13. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    I’ll be skunk in the room and state that I don’t have much use for these governments that confiscate coin hoards. Most of the time they store them in vaults where nobody sees them. If their experts do much research, it’s not easy to find it. And at worst, some government bureaucrat finds a way to profit from it.

    From personal experience, if you want to use a picture of the item in an educational exhibit, you often can’t get it, or they charge you a big price for it. So much for “public education.”

    They’ll have an intern program where a 16 year old will get to see an item, but if you are a 50 year old collector who has studied the subject for years, it’s a “no go.” Once more, that was from personal experience.

    Those who have donated their collections to museums have often been disappointed, if they are still alive. Never seeing the light of day is the usual fate of such items. The best outcome is often when the museum heads decide to sell items, often at auction.
  14. Kaleun96

    Kaleun96 Well-Known Member

    How about governments that arrest people for allegedly committing fraud?

    It's disappointing to see that the first reaction of many people to this news is to worry about a potential increased seizure of looted coins. This is someone who (allegedly) received coins known to have been looted, created fake provenances for those coins, and also attempt to purchase a fake provenance for 100,000 Swiss francs for another coin that later sold for 2.7M GBP.

    Not only is this person accused of knowingly receiving and selling stolen goods, they're also accused of inventing a fake provenance so that their coin, or their co-conspirator's coin, would net them more money and avoid the watchful eye of anti-looting investigators.

    A very distant concern, in my opinion, is whether this case will lead to a crackdown on buying and selling ancient coins. I think that is very unlikely with the exception that we may start seeing fewer dealers and auction houses willing to engage, or continuing to engage, in similar conduct. That is a good thing. None of us should be happy about buying coins that were known to have been illegally exported from the country in which they were found.

    Whether the repatriation laws are good or bad, or make sense or not, is entirely separate to this case. Whether the laws relating to the discovery of ancient coins in various countries are good or bad, or make sense or not, is entirely separate to this case.

    What the affidavit accuses the defendant and co-conspirator of are clear patterns of illegal activity that has very little to do with an admittedly over-zealous HSI special agent. Everyone here should want and expect relevant government authorities to investigate and prosecute to their full ability and extent of the law someone who knowingly buys and sells stolen goods and fraudulently misrepresents the origin of those stolen goods to potential buyers.

    Keep in mind that I'm only talking about cases in which someone *knowingly* sells goods that are stolen or misrepresented. If the dealer/auction house has no reason to believe an item is stolen/looted and the consignor provides some vague provenance (that is then not enhanced by the dealer/seller), that's a completely different situation in my mind. But that situation is not the same as this situation that Beale and Vecchi have allegedly found themselves in.
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  15. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    I don't support theft @Kaleun96. If it involves receiving and selling stolen goods, that is a big problem. In the old days, a seller could not transfer a better title to the goods to the buyer. Therefore if the goods were stolen, the buyer was required to give them to the rightful owner. The buyer only had a legal action against the fraudulent seller.

    If you point concerns "the right" of government to seize finds of rare coins and other artifacts because of extreme nationalism, you and I shall disagree, and that will not change. Since the law is on your side, you will get what you want.
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  16. Kaleun96

    Kaleun96 Well-Known Member

    This is how it still works today. The buyer of the Eid Mar will likely be out of pocket if the coin is seized and will need to be refunded by Roma or sue them.

    My point doesn't concern that at all and I think I was pretty clear in avoiding that topic entirely, so please don't attribute to me views that I have not mentioned just to give yourself an excuse to express your own views as a supposed rebuttal.
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  17. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    I think that "buyer" paid fair market value for that (Eid Mar Aureus) . So, if some govt. agents wanted to take it/ it would be no different then a thief stealing it from your home. This opens up a can of worms, were zealous coin police could search your home for so called "cultural property" The Italians should face the facts/ the Romans looted/ stole/ pillaged everywhere their legions conquered new territories.
  18. Kaleun96

    Kaleun96 Well-Known Member

    Tell me, John, if the Eid Mar does in fact turn out to be stolen (as is claimed), would the "govt. agents" still have no jurisdiction in seizing it?

    Alternatively, let's say someone steals all your lovely gold coins and sells them to me back in Sweden - would you expect Swedish police to help you get your coins back when presented with sufficient evidence? It sounds like they would be mine to keep since I paid "fair market value" for them.
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  19. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    OK/ if the Eid-Mar Aureus was stolen from a collectors residence/ break-in/ absolutely I would agree. However, I also would then want that "bidder" who won the piece for 3.25M to get ALL his or her $$$ back. Since they bought that aureus with fair intentions. Also/ if the auction house was aware of the coin's history/ they should be held accountable for compensation. On the otherhand, if that aureus was found by a metal detectorist in Italy and made its way to Roma Auctions/ I would say, "finders keepers". Since, had someone not found it by random luck, the Eid-Mar might have remained buried and never seen the lite of day. Its even more difficult, when someone spends millions to locate a Spanish treasure galleon/ then brings up a billion dollars in gold coins/ gems/ bars. Who has legal claim? The salvage outfit (my choice) the Country in whose waters the wreck was located? Or Spain/ since its their cargo/ treasure.
    Then of course you had unethical English Queens like Anne/ Elizabeth I who sent the Royal Navy to plunder Spanish shipping/ which in turn was turned into English gold/ silver coinage.
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  20. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    Last edited: Mar 9, 2023
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  21. robinjojo

    robinjojo Well-Known Member

    The issue of ambiguous and vague, at best, provenances of coins offered at auction has been a longstanding one, done with a wink and a nod by firms and dealers alike. This is not a major issue of the vast majority of ancient coins, since they enter the market in often enormous numbers, like the standardized Athenian owls flooding the auction and retail scenes, or the untold hoards of late Roman bronze coins.

    However, with very high profile coins, where hundreds of thousands and, in the case of the Eid Mar aureus, multiple millions, the issue of false provenance becomes a central issue. I can understand this issue, since such a false provenance misleads the potential buyers and in the end the new owner. It is a case of fraud, and is not condoned in the field of coin collecting or any other transaction.

    The issue of repatriation is another matter, and a sticky one, since it is interlaced with the issue of cultural protection, which is generally a good thing, I feel. It is important that a nation be able to retain significant cultural artifacts. I think the Elgin Marbles, for example, should be returned to Greece. We may bemoan that some countries do not have the capacity to curate artifacts, but, as with the Benin bronzes museums are coming around to recognizing the need for the artifacts, especially those significant ones that were looted in the past, should return to their countries of origin. I say significant artifacts, such as those mentioned, and not, say a run-of-the-mill scarab or, more germane to this thread, the vast majority of coins that flow into the market and collections.

    I do share the concern expressed so comprehensively in the post of GinoLR concerning the looting of coin hoards for commercial gain. This is a problem driven by economics (obviously), conflict and poverty primarily. Many of the ancient coins that grace our collections come to us through networks of individuals and groups that seek coins in likely locations using metal detectors (among other means) to find coins, individually and in groups, that are sold to middle men, who in turn sell to local or regional dealers, who may sell directly to buyers or to larger dealers or auction houses.

    Unfortunately this process is inherently destructive, not only in the physical sense, although that is an issue, but also in the loss of historical knowledge about life in the ancient world. This sad situation is not an easy one to solve. War, weak and corrupt governments, and poverty are endemic in many of the regions that serve as spigots of coins to the ancient coin market. It would indeed be nice if the countries in the Middle East, for example, adopted antiquities laws (including coins) modeled along the lines of the UK law. This, I think should be an ultimate objective, but until the scourges of war, corruption and poverty are ended, and peace and prosperity are introduced, this will be a pipe dream.
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