Monday 18 December 2017

Gardai suspect gold coins from looted treasure trove

JIM CUSACK

Gardai seized two gold coins at a coin auction in Dublin's Shelbourne Hotel after Romanian police informed them there is a possibility that they came from a looted trove of ancient treasure.

Acting on information from the Romanian police, detectives from Pearse Street station seized the coins, which could be 3,000 years old, the day before they were due to go for auction in the Shelbourne Hotel on February 18 last.

The coins are known as 'Kosons' after the early Dacian king of what is now Romania. At the auction they were described as dating from 42 BC and were estimated at being worth €800 each.

When asked about the seizure, Mr Jerome Lacroix, who ran the auction, said: "Yes, but we are in discussion about that. I think it would be better to give information in about two weeks."

It is understood that Mr Lacroix, who is based in France, told gardai that he bought the coins at an auction in New York and that he will supply them with proof of purchase. No arrests have been made and investigations are ongoing. Romanian police have been running an international investigation in search of the coins raided from the Dacian capital of Sarmisegetuza since they were alerted to looting by a man who handed a batch of 142 of the coins over to authorities in the Alba region of the country in 2009.

As a result of their investigations and liaison with other police forces, the Romanian police made seizures of similar coins in Hamburg and London last year. Treasure hunters have been stealing coins from the former capital of the Dacians for years. Before they were invaded by the Romans in 106 AD, the Dacians are believed to have stored their caches of gold coins and artefacts in secret hides which have been turning up for centuries in the country.

The coins and artefacts are of great heritage significance in Romania and Romanian police liaison officers based in embassies throughout Europe have been making strenuous efforts to recover the coins and other gold items as they turn up at auction.

Previous caches of coins recovered have been returned to Romania's National Museum of History.

The two coins for auction in Dublin had an image of the Roman Emperor Brutus on one side and an eagle, the symbol of the Dacians, on the reverse side suggesting that the coins may have been used in trade between Dacia and the Roman Empire.

Sunday Independent

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