Classical Numismatic Group, USA-New York

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CNG Sells Roman Gold Medallion for Record $2.3 Million

A spectacular Roman gold medallion sold to an anonymous phone bidder for $2.327 million at Classical Numismatic Group LLC’s Triton XXVI auction in New York City Wednesday, 10th January 2023, shattering the record for the highest price paid for a Roman Imperial coin and electrifying a ballroom packed with onlookers.

Lot 830: Roman Imperial. Diocletian. AD 284-305. AV Medallion of Ten Aurei (38mm, 53.65 g, 12h). Aquileia mint. Struck AD 294. NGC graded Ch AU★, 5/5, 5/5, Fine Style. Result: $2,327,500.

The huge coin, a unique 10-aurei gold medallion of the Roman Emperor Diocletian (reigned AD 284-305), is larger than a U.S. $20 gold piece and nearly twice as heavy, with a powerful portrait of the emperor on the obverse and the seated figure of a muscular god Jupiter on the reverse. The largest Roman gold coin to sell at auction in well over a century, it was lot 830 and the highest-value coin in the two-day Triton XXVI auction, which realized just under $14 million total including buyer’s premium, nearly double the presale estimate. The sale took place at the posh Intercontinental Barclay Hotel in Manhattan as part of the week leading up to the 51st 2023 New York International Numismatic Convention, where coin dealers and collectors gather from all over the world.

CNG auctioneer Jeff Rill expertly managed the drama-filled bidding for the piece, which started with an internet entry of $475,000 on the firm’s website then moved to a dwindling handful of floor bidders and two agents on cell phones representing remote bidders as the price rocketed past the $500,000 estimate and beyond the $1 million mark. Gasps escaped the audience as the price moved beyond the $1.65 million record for a Roman imperial coin, which had stood since 2008.

A tense pause stretched out for what seemed like an eternal 90 seconds after the bidding reached $1.9 million and Rill said “last call,” with a phone agent holding up his paddle and the last floor bidder slowly shaking his head. The room erupted into applause and cheers when Rill finally called out, “and sold for $1.9 million!” The 22.5% buyer’s premium brought the medallion’s final price realized to $2,327,500.

“It was the highlight of my auctioneering and numismatic career so far to call the sale of this magnificent piece,” Rill said. “It was amazing to look out at that truly international sea of faces packing the ballroom, hearing their hushed whispers in many different languages – all of them focused on this one coin, this one moment, the shrinking pool of bidders, and the rising number on the screen. I will never forget it.”

The medallion, termed a denio by specialists, is nearly 40mm in diameter and weighs 53.65 grams. It is believed to have been struck in AD 294 to mark Diocletian’s tenth anniversary of rule. The Diocletian denio was encapsulated by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation with an extraordinary grade of Choice AU★, Strike: 5/5, Surface 5/5, Fine Style. “NGC Ancients is pleased to have handled this exciting piece, which stands out as one of the finest Roman medallions in existence,” said David Vagi, head of NGC’s ancients division.

The Diocletian denio is the highest-priced coin ever sold by CNG LLC in its nearly five-decade existence, said Michael Gasvoda, Managing Director. “CNG is very gratified the collector who owns this amazing piece chose to consign with us,” said Gasvoda. “And, of course, we are grateful to all the bidders on this piece, including the lucky winner!”

“I find the portrait of Diocletian on this medallion to be almost mesmerizing in its power,” Gasvoda added. “We know the buyer of this superb medallion is thrilled to add it to his collection.”

In addition to the Diocletian medallion, many other coins in Triton XXVI shot past the $100,000 mark (all prices include buyer’s premium):

  • $428,750 for lot 1067, an artistic Indian gold Heavy Mohur of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir.
  • $336,875 for lot 639, and extremely rare Roman gold aureus of Mark Antony.
  • $196,000 for lot 181, a beautiful Greek gold stater of Pantikapaion on the Black Sea.
Lot 497: Baktria, Indo-Greek Kingdom. Zoilos I Dikaios. Circa 150-130 BC. AR Tetradrachm. NGC graded Ch AU★, 5/5, 4/5, Fine Style. Result: $159,250.
  • $159,250 for lot 497, a rare Greco-Baktrian silver tetradrachm of the mysterious ruler Zoilos “the Just.”
Lot 1282: Hanover. Victoria. 1837-1901. Proof AV Five Pounds. Dated 1893. NGC graded PF 66 Ultra Cameo. Result: $147,000.
  • $147,000 for lot 1282, a stunning 1893 Victoria Proof 5 Pounds, graded NGC Proof 66 Ultra Cameo.
  • $134,750 for lot 507, a tiny Indian gold quarter-dinar of the Kushan King Kanishka, of the only ancient gold coins depicting a figure of buddha.
Lot 1253: Tudor. Elizabeth I. 1558-1603. AV Ship Ryal. Dutch imitation struck in Amsterdam(?), circa 1585-1587. NGC graded MS 61. Result: $134,750.
  • $134,750 for lot 1253, an impressive gold “Ship Ryal” of the English Queen Elizabeth I.

“We are quite pleased for both our bidders and consignors in Triton XXVI, which turned out to be one of the most successful and memorable auctions in CNG’s nearly five-decades in operation,” Gasvoda said. Listen to Mike Gasvoda who spoke to CoinsWeekly during the NYINC about the gold medallion and the result it achieved (scroll below).

All prices realized can be found on the auction platform.

For further information, visit the website of CNG.