Turns Out a Record-Setting Ancient Coin Was Sold Using False Documents

The coin was sold for nearly $4.2 million in 2020

Eid Mar coin
A coin issued by conspirators in 43/2 to celebrate Caesar's murder shows daggers and the felt cap worn by freed slaves. The inscription reads EID. MAR. ("the Ides of March").
Brown Bear/Windmil Books/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

If you’re familiar with William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, the line “Beware the Ides of March!” might ring a bell. But it turns out that there are other reasons to beware the Ides of March besides the danger of being stabbed repeatedly by your onetime friends. Now, a coin that alludes to that same moment of political murder is at the center of a criminal case — and it’s called into question a record-setting sale from late 2020.

As Numismatic News reported in November of 2020, a handful of contemporary coins were minted in the wake of Caesar’s assassination to commemorate the event. These coins bore the legend EID MAR — an allusion to the aforementioned Ides of March. And, in 2020, a gold EID MAR — one of only three known to exist — sold at auction for close to $4.2 million. That was the highest price obtained at an auction for an ancient coin.

Except that things surrounding the ancient coin be a bit more complicated than that. Now, ARTnews reports that other elements of the sale are being rethought, with Shanti Escalante-De Mattei writing that “[i]t appears now that the coin was sold using false provenance.” And the man behind the sale, Richard Beale, has been arrested by the Department of Homeland Security.

ARTnews cites a report by Special Agent Brenton Easter that accuses Beale and coin dealer Italo Vecchi of falsifying documents around the EID MAR coin in order to make it easier to sell.

The whole article is well worth reading, though certain questions about the case continue to linger — including how this particular coin was obtained and why the paperwork was falsified. It doesn’t seem as though we’ve heard the last of this case — and there may well be more revelations still to come.

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