July 5, 2012 – At the New York International Coin Convention 2012 the news spread immediately. Peter Weiss, eminent hand surgeon, coin collector and co-owner of Nomos AG Zurich, was detained on request of the New York district attorney, two coins from the Nomos sale were seized. This action was apparently based on a secretly recorded conversation between Peter Weiss and an inofficial collaborator to the district attorney’s office. In this conversation Mr Weiss admitted that it was ‘a fresh coin … dug up a few years ago.’
The Wall Street Journal says Peter Weiss has acknowledged that he knew that both coins in question – a dekadrachm of Myron and Polycrates from Akragas and a tetradrachm of Heracleides from Katane – were found only after 1909, and that he was also well aware of the Italian laws on the export of antiquities. However, Mr Weiss stated that he did not know the coins were forgeries.
Indeed an expert who had examined the coins after the seizure declared both to be fake, as Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos stated. According to a specific New York State law Mr Weiss is guilty, anyway, because he owned the coins believing they had been illegally taken out of Italy.
This American kind of jurisdiction may seem a bit odd to European eyes. Especially as for the sentence: Peter Weiss has to forfeit 23 coins seized from him in January, of which, however, it was not proved they had been taken out of Italy illegally. In addition he was sentenced to a fine of $ 3,000 and 70 hours of community service. Additionally he must write and publish an article on the problem of dealing in ancient coins of unknown provenance and of its continuing threat to the archaeological record.
If you want to read the whole article in the Wall Street Journal, please click here.
If you want to read an article of the Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire, please click here.
We reported on the seizure and detention on January 19, 2012. To read this article, please click here.