Professor of Orthopaedics Arnold-Peter Weiss was arrested in New York City last month for allegedly possessing an ancient coin stolen from Italy. The coin remains the property of the Italian government, according to Italian law.
Weiss faces second-degree felony charges for knowingly acquiring and attempting to sell a looted coin called Tetradrachm, which is valued at over $50,000, according to the criminal complaint provided by Diem Tran, senior press officer of New York County District Attorney’s Office. The criminal court set bail at $200,000, and Weiss is expected to appear in court March 21 for possible grand jury action, Tran wrote in an email to The Herald.
Tetradrachm is a 4th century B.C. Italian silver coin. The deponent in the case stated that he observed Weiss “attempting to sell the same (coin) for approximately $300,000 in an auction,” according to the criminal complaint.
An Italian law — the Code of the Cultural and Landscape Heritage — states that all antiquities found in Italy after 1909 are subject to the absolute ownership of the Italian government. An informant notified the court that “the Italian government never gave (the) defendant or anyone permission consent or authority to remove said coin from the ground or to remove it from Italy,” according to the criminal complaint.
“There is no paperwork, I know this is a fresh coin,” Weiss allegedly said in a recorded conversation with the confidential informant. “This was dug up two years ago. I know where this came from.” Since Weiss said he knew that the coin was “freshly dug,” he is being charged with purposefully possessing property of the Italian government.
Weiss was planning to sell the coin through Nomos AG, an auction house for valuable coins where Weiss is a partner, according to Coin World.
Nomos AG Director Alan Walker said, “All the coins are in the U.S. legally. All of the coins left Europe legally. It was all handled 100 percent by the law, as far as we know.”
Walker also told Coin World that “he has very good counsel and is 100 percent innocent.”
Weiss is a world-renowned hand surgeon. He obtained his bachelor’s and medical degrees from Johns Hopkins University. He is also the associate dean of medicine for admission at Alpert Medical School.
Mark Nickel, senior editor and writer at the office of public affairs and University relations, wrote in an email to The Herald that Weiss continues to serve as a professor, but due to “the pending resolution of the legal matter … he has been temporarily relieved of his administrative duties.”