by Ian Goldbart, A. H. Baldwin & Sons Ltd
January 8, 2015 – It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce to the numismatic world, the death of my dear friend and colleague Dimitri Loulakakis, on the 17 December 2014, after finally losing his battle against the cancer he was diagnosed with earlier this year. Although he turned 80 years old in August, for those of us that knew him well, he was someone that we thought would live and work for many years to come. He lived for his coins, loved them and continued to teach and inspire all those he came in to contact with until his illness forced him in to hospital.
His other passion was for football and I think Arsenal came a close second to coins, although, over the past few years, coins have performed far better. We went to dozens of games together and when the going got tough, it was probably just as well that I didn’t understand Greek.
I first met Dimitri at the Cumberland Hotel Coin Fair some 38 years ago, when I was just 13. It was my first show and, as I walked around the room, I have to admit that most dealers did not take a second look at me. I remember asking one such dealer how much a coin was, to which he replied ‘very expensive’. When I reached the table of Chelsea Coins that all changed and so did my life. I came face to face with the very dapper and elegantly dressed Dimitri Loulakakis. It was immediately obvious to me that he had a passion for coins and loved to find someone young to teach and inspire and on that fateful day, it was to be me. Dimitri spent over an hour talking to me and finally insisted that I go back around the room before I considered buying anything from him. A smooth operator indeed!
A friendship was born that has lasted and grown these past 38 years. He was my mentor so if anyone is looking for someone to blame for me now being in the coin trade, blame him!
In 2003 I persuaded him to wind down his business and join together with me. That was probably a blessing for Jose, his devoted wife for 54 years, whom he married in 1960, as she was also tasked with keeping track of all the purchases and sales, quite a job for anyone. We formed Noble Investments (UK) PLC to trade coins and collectibles. Most numismatists will know that in 2005, we merged with A H Baldwin & Sons Ltd and then the fun really began. Over the last decade, he continued to inspire everyone at Baldwin’s and was always available and willing to feed them with his knowledge, as long as it was after 1pm and not later than 5am! Over those ensuing years we travelled from fair to fair, auction to auction around the globe to any destination that would still allow him to smoke his cigar.
I came to realise just how well liked and highly regarded he was. Most of all, he was honest and trusted by collectors and dealers around the world. The number of calls and emails that have already been received in the short space of time, since his passing, are a testament to how well loved he was. Dimitri could turn his hand to most numismatic sectors although English and modern Greek were probably his true passions. He did his best to teach me and those around him and we at Baldwin’s will certainly miss him every day that passes, although perhaps not the cigar smoke so much.
I have lost someone who I regarded as a second father, all of us at Baldwin’s have lost a dear friend and the numismatic community has lost one more of the old guard. Shoes that will be impossible to fill.
Goodbye Dimitri, gone but never to be forgotten.