The Eid Mar Coin, one of the most expensive ancient coins in the world after it was sold in 2021 for $4.2 million at auction, was repatriated to Greece this week after an investigation by Homeland Security agents found the coin had been sold using fake provenance. 28 other ancient artifacts looted from Greece returned as well in a handover ceremony organized by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
The Eid Mar coins were minted by Brutus to commemorate the murder of Julius Caesar on March 15, 44 B.C., now known as the Ides of March. Editions were minted in silver to be used as currency and gold as a memento for high ranking officials; of the gold editions, only three are known to remain. Investigators have not revealed the details of how the coin was smuggled out of Greece, or the circumstances of its sale.
“Antiquities trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar business with looters and smugglers turning a profit at the expense of cultural heritage, and Greece–long acknowledged as the cradle of Western Civilization–is especially susceptible to this type of criminal enterprise,” Ivan J. Arvelo, the special agent in charge for HSI in New York, said in a statement. “These treasured artifacts date from as far back as 5000 B.C.E. and were a valued part of life in the ancient world. We are honored to join our partners today in the repatriation of this priceless cultural heritage to the people of Greece.”
Other artifacts included in the repatriation package include a funerary urn, which once held the remains of a deceased individual in a chamber tomb. “Neolithic family group,” a collection of five human and animal figures carved from marble from 5000-3500 B.C.E, was also returned to Greece. The group was on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which had accepted it as a loan, until it was seized earlier this month.