Coins might not be where you think they are

Who is watching your back?

In the case of one fortunate coin buyer, who didn’t even realize some coins of his had been stolen, it is Bill Walker of Heritage Auctions.

Thanks to Walker’s outstanding professionalism and research skills, five of seven coins the buyer had purchased at the 2016 Florida United Numismatists convention auction have been recovered for him.

As Heritage tells the story, earlier this year Walker, a rare coin specialist in Heritage Auctions’ Dallas office, was approached by a Florida coin dealer seeking to auction five rare coins.

So far, so routine.

However, Walker noticed that all five had been sold at the 2016 FUN auction.

An additional two pieces had also been sold at the auction and purchased by the same buyer.

This buyer was not who was offering the coins.

Red flags began flying in Walker’s mind.

At each step, there were more such flags.

Walker learned that the dealer who wanted to auction the coins was being offered them for less than they had sold for in recent auction records.

Walker began phoning contacts in the hobby.

Then he talked to the winning 2016 bidder to inquire if the coins had been sold following the auction.

The successful bidder denied selling the coins at a loss.

At that point, he was made aware that they must have been stolen.

With further research, Walker concluded the coins likely were pilfered while on their way to Numismatic Guaranty Corporation in a mail carrier shipment shortly after the auction.

Following the theft, they seemed to have been sold to a Florida dealer, who in turn offered them to another dealer, who contacted Heritage Auctions.

Heritage quotes Walker as saying, “I knew these coins could not have belonged to the winning bidder.

“I thought it was extremely odd that the seller was offering the coins for less than the recent auction price.

“Come to find out, some coins had been broken out of their certified holder.”

Had Heritage and Walker not been contacted, who knows what might have happened?

Who knows how long it would have taken the rightful owner to realize his property was missing?

As Shakespeare wrote, “All’s well that ends well.”

However, it takes people of the calibre of Walker to make happy endings happen.

Well done, Bill Walker.

All of us in the numismatic field are fortunate to have you watching our backs.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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