Jump to content

Looted Coins at Oslo Myntgalleri


velarfricative

Recommended Posts

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?

  • Like 14
  • Thanks 5
  • Gasp 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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?

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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...

Edited by quant.geek
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 6
  • Yes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

  • Yes 3
  • Clap 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 10
  • Clap 2
  • Heart Eyes 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@velarfricative Outstanding! Glad it ended in a positive note. @panzerman I tend to agree with you in some aspects.  I rather artifacts stay with the museums for safe guarding as opposed to being sent back to questionable governments that might end up being stolen or destroyed.  It might make sense to have things on permanent loan...

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 9 months later...

An update on this from April, which I've only just noticed now: https://www-uniforum-uio-no.translate.goog/nyheter/2023/04/mynter-fra-nasjonalmuseet-i-kabul-forsokt-auksjone.html?_x_tr_sl=auto&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=wapp

Translated from the original Norwegian; sounds like they're currently in the University of Oslo Museum of Cultural History.

And, a new photo, from the article:

drachmer-hakon-roland-1-copy.jpg

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Speaking of museum coins seen in trade, I just noticed this one today.

https://www.notinric.lechstepniewski.info/6cyz-96_s.html

The coin shown as sold in the 2021 Kunker auction (with no provenance given at auction) is the exact same specimen (whose photo is also linked) that was included in "Sp√§tantike zwischen Heidentum und Christentum, M√ľnchen 1990", which as I understand it shows a selection of coins from the Munich State Coin Collection.

Can anyone confirm if the coins in that publication were all from the Munich collection? If so, was there a known deacquisition or theft of bronze coins from there?

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
On 9/1/2023 at 6:10 PM, Heliodromus said:

Can anyone confirm if the coins in that publication were all from the Munich collection?

So, just as a follow-up, I was able to obtain a cheap copy of the (very nice - hardback, 230 pages, heavily illustrated) exhibition catalog for the princely sum of $12 (with free shipping), and am glad to say that the coin in question is described as being in a private collection, so it's reappearance in trade seems nothing to worry about.

image.jpeg.594abd88f447aa56b0ab71d46d1abcc3.jpeg

image.png.88a2ed8cdb05c6dcb15c0469c52d7fa0.png

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

√ó
√ó
  • Create New...