> TELEPHONE US 212.355.5710

Coin Dealer Arrested

March 22, 2023

I rarely choose to update one of my stories, but one I wrote about a few years ago now belongs in our Dark Side section.

In December 2020, I wrote about a rare ancient gold coin, the Eid Mar, that made history when it brought far more than its ‘weight in gold.’ The sale of the coin set an auction record when it sold for $4.1M (I reported it sold for $4.2M, but that’s probably a rounding error) by the London-based auction house Roma Numismatics.

Now it turns out that the British coin dealer, Richard Beale, who owned the London auction house, has been arrested. Beale has quite the talent for creating fictional stories about the provenance of valuable coins.

Julius Caeser gold coin known as the Eid Mar

Eid Mar

First, he claimed the Eid Mar coin came from a mysterious Swiss collection that couldn’t be verified. Then, when he finally sold it at auction in 2020, he attributed it to the collection of Baron Dominique de Chambrier. And then there was the Sicily Naxos Coin, which first appeared on the market in 2013 with no provenance at all. But that didn’t stop Beale from creating a fake history for the coin and selling it at the same sale in 2020 as the Eid Mar coin for $293K! It seems like Beale should try his hand at writing fiction novels instead of dealing in coins – he certainly has a creative imagination!

Sicily Naxos Silver Coin

Sicily Naxos Silver Coin

Unfortunately for Beale, his deceitful actions were eventually uncovered when the Naxos coin, and several other items were seized at JFK airport while being smuggled into New York.

Ultimately, Beale’s luck ran out, and the Antiquities Trafficking Unit (ATU) caught him.

The ATU was created in 2017 by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to combat the trafficking of cultural artifacts and antiquities. The unit is lead by Assistant DA Matthew Bodganos and is staffed by experienced prosecutors, investigators, and analysts who work to identify, investigate, and prosecute individuals and organizations involved in the illegal trade of cultural heritage items.

The ATU operates in collaboration with law enforcement agencies both domestically and internationally to recover stolen artifacts and repatriate them to their countries of origin. Since their inception, they have successfully recovered thousands of artifacts worth over $300 million.

In addition to their law enforcement work, the ATU also engages in public outreach and education programs to raise awareness about the importance of protecting cultural heritage items and the risks associated with their illicit trade.

So, while their work is serious and important, the ATU also takes a proactive and engaging approach to raising awareness about cultural heritage protection. Maybe they could even organize a “Provenance 101” course for coin dealers like Beale to help them avoid similar predicaments in the future!

After the great work by the ATU, Beale is now facing charges of Grand Larceny in the First Degree and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property. I bet he wishes he had stuck to dealing with regular old coins instead of trying to get rich off of ancient treasures. Remember, folks, always tell the truth when it comes to provenance!