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Looted Coins at Oslo Myntgalleri


velarfricative
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Recently, while double-checking some coins at Oslo Myntgalleri to verify authenticity, it came to my attention that several of the coins at the upcoming auction are plate coins in "Le Tresor Monetaire de Qunduz". https://www.numisbids.com/n.php?p=lot&sid=6221&lot=1051 , https://www.numisbids.com/n.php?p=lot&sid=6221&lot=1052, https://www.numisbids.com/n.php?p=lot&sid=6221&lot=1054

1912733531_plate1.jpg.b0f2072a4759fa2e7e253c66f739023d.jpg1232227607_plate2.jpg.e01d18f8a683d8d82d43e2a8a2b87321.jpg593627876_plate3.jpg.7c9a2862328d80e0498d944aa5fac88d.jpg

For those who are unaware, all of the coins published in that book were stolen from the Kabul museum in the early 90s, and are certainly not legal to own. Anybody have any idea who I should be contacting to make sure these should be getting back to their proper owners?

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Impressive that you were able to find these. You should get in touch with Oslo directly. probably send off an email to them if you haven't already. However, I'm not so certain this situation is as clear cut as just giving the coins back, considering the current ruling authorities in Kabul and their track record for destroying pre-islamic artefacts.

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I’m absolutely not looking to start an argument but am curious as to why it should not be posted?

To me it shows the value of detective work by members, flags a problem, isn’t being nasty to the auction house but shows that they (and others) should maybe have a higher standard or be called out, reminds all of us to carefully check even what we see on reputable seller sites etc….

What are the main arguments against posting it please?

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While I appreciate the effort, I am looking at the greater picture of making sure the coins don't disappear again due to it being publicly known. Report it first and let the authorities handle it discretely. Its a similar argument as to why security holes in software are not published until the software developers fix the bug if it is not publicly known.  I sincerely want the coins returned. Of course, if my arguments don't hold, then that's fine as well...

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5 hours ago, quant.geek said:

While I appreciate the effort, I am looking at the greater picture of making sure the coins don't disappear again due to it being publicly known. Report it first and let the authorities handle it discretely. Its a similar argument as to why security holes in software are not published until the software developers fix the bug if it is not publicly known.  I sincerely want the coins returned. Of course, if my arguments don't hold, then that's fine as well...

A lack of transparency is exactly what allows situations like these to be swept under the rug in the first place. How can you think the auction house will make the coins disappear after having this come to light publicly? Handling this behind closed doors seems like the worst recourse to take here

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5 hours ago, quant.geek said:

While I appreciate the effort, I am looking at the greater picture of making sure the coins don't disappear again due to it being publicly known. Report it first and let the authorities handle it discretely. Its a similar argument as to why security holes in software are not published until the software developers fix the bug if it is not publicly known.  I sincerely want the coins returned. Of course, if my arguments don't hold, then that's fine as well...

If the police are interested, wouldn't they know how to reach out to the auction house, who should know the exact consigners for the coin?

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I agree with @quant.geek but I am unsure if NCIC is the correct venue for reporting, given that their Report Form doesn't have an option for noticing stolen coins in an auction catalog.  The ANS might have contacts in the Afghan museum community, or, even better, the Délégation Archéologique française en Afghanistan.

I am very impressed that you, @velarfricative, have Le Tresor Monetaire de Qunduz.  That book costs $400 used.  I wish something could be done to make catalogs of stolen collections more widely available.

The most successful recovery of stolen museum coins is probably the large cents recovered by the ANS.  Huge amounts of legal effort were required to get them back.  You can't merely call the cops in these situations.  About 20 years ago there was a major theft of coins from a New York dealer.  The thieves were convicted -- some are even still in jail -- but the coins were not recovered.  Sometimes these coins show up in auctions.  If a coin sells, and is later found too have been stolen, it can be hard to recover it -- expensive civil suits are needed to find out the consigner and buyer, and then more suits are needed to pry the coin from them.  Dealers can't afford to recover coins as legal costs can run many times higher than a coin's values.

There are other museum thefts that are outstanding.  The 1977 Naples Museum theft was 6000 coins.  They have not been recovered.  Some of us may own those coins.  90% of those coins were never photographed, so we will never know.  The best 10% were photographed, but the catalog is extremely rare and expensive and I don't know how to reach out the the copyright holder to get permission to scan and produce PDFs.

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5 hours ago, Hesiod said:

If the police are interested, wouldn't they know how to reach out to the auction house, who should know the exact consigners for the coin?

AFAIK, international looted items is very complicated and thus usually, too much to handle for local police.  That is why sometimes governments wait til the auction takes place before announcing anything and seize the items during the auction...

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Well done! Those are an absolute match. It is a shame that these looted collections haven't been digitized and indexed using the similarity algorithms Ex-Numis and ACSearch use as that would be a great background process to weed out illegal coins prior to auction houses accepting consignments.

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Seeing that the regime ruling Afghanistan is a terrorist "Criminal Regime", better they end up in a private collection. The Taliban's past record shows that they either destroy non-Islamic artifacts/ or sell them off on black market to finance their horrendous policies at home.  The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg is full of looted coins/ art/ historical artifacts stolen by Soviet forces from Hungary/ Germany/ Poland/ Spain....

Spanish Communist Republican govt. actually sent their gold reserves (510 tonnes)/ coins/ crown jewels to comrade Stalin for "safe keeping".  Now/ Putin's thugs are looting/  Ukraine's museums/ resources.

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From the auction house: "Thank you very much for notifying us about this. It is quite disturbing to learn about the origin of those coins. We have taken immediate action and will hand the coins over to the authorities." A very respectable and prompt response from them, and looks like they've already been withdrawn.

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