Patara. C. 400 BC.
AR Hemidrachm. the second known example.
Alexandria. Trajan, 98-117.
AE Drachm. Unicum.
Guglielmo Gonzaga, 1538-1587.
AR Grosso 1550.
Coin Dealer Italo Vecchi Charged with Grand Larceny
by Björn Schöpe, translated by Maike Meßmann
In March 2023, British coin dealer Richard Beale was charged in New York with forging the provenance of an EID MAR aureus. What was the world’s most expensive ancient coin at the time, was allegedly procured for him by the Italian coin dealer Italo Vecchi, who was initially only under investigation. On 21 June 2023, the Manhattan District Attorney also charged Vecchi with various felonies.
The Case Against Italo Vecchi
As the Daily Mail reports, Italo Vecchi has been charged with first-degree grand larceny, two counts of fourth-degree conspiracy, second-degree criminal possession of stolen property amon other charges. First-degree grand larceny alone (which refers to objects worth more than 1 million dollars) can lead to a prison sentence of up to 25 years.
The charges are related to the trial against Richard Beale of Roma Numismatics. According to media reports, Vecchi sold two particularly valuable coins to Beale between 2013 and 2014, the EID MAR aureus – which was considered the most expensive ancient coin after it sold for more than 4 million dollars – and a Naxos decadrachm, which has been returned to Italy by now. He allegedly sold both coins without pedigree.
On 22 June 2023 at 3 p.m., Italo Vecchi was arraigned in court – handcuffed and with a cane, as has been reported. He was accompanied by his two lawyers, Georges Gilbert Lederman and Wendy Dickieson of Withers, an international law firm. After half an hour, he was allowed to leave court on his own recognizance.
Dealer, Consultant, Accused
75-year-old Italo Vecchi has long retired from his life as an active coin dealer – however, he has been providing Roma Numismatics with his services as a consultant for years. The Italian numismatist lives in Great Britain and has mainly published works on early Roman and Etruscan coinage.
Throughout his long career, Italo Vecchi worked for various coin dealers, including members of the International Association of Professional Numismatists. (Even the British Museum acquired pieces from Vecchi, according to their online catalogue.) So he became a corresponding member of the association. Due to his long-term service, the IAPN later made him an honorary member. However, this honorary membership was suspended when he became the subject of criminal investigations.
But there is another side to Vecchi’s career. In 1992, US customs officials caught him importing undeclared ancient Greek coins in a briefcase. In 2012, according to the Daily Mail, Vecchi forged the provenance of a decadrachm from Akragas, which was subsequently sold for more than a million dollars in New York.
The Daily Mail refers to court documents that are said to prove that Vecchi had been illegally dealing in coins for decades. The court has to decide whether these allegations are true. According to media reports, Vecchi is to appear in court again on 7 September 2023 at 9 a.m.