16 November 2020
A gold 'Ides of March' coin has been sold at auction house Roma Numismatics for a staggering £2,700,000, the world record price paid for a Roman coin.
The star lot of Roma Numismatics' Auction XX was only the third known example of a gold EID MAR coin, struck by Marcus Junius Brutus, the most famous of Julius Caesar’s assassins, on the eve of the battle of Philippi, commemorating (if not celebrating) the murder of the dictator.
The auction catalogue described the coin as being: 'excessively Rare; the third known example: one on long-term loan to the British Museum, the other in the Deutsche Bundesbank collection.'
Coin recalls Caesar's assassination
The coin's appeal is thanks to its part in the history of the Roman Empire. The lot description mentions the 'naked and shameless celebration of the murder of Julius Caesar two years earlier in 44 BC', confirming that the coin was issued by Brutus, the Roman senator famous for his part in the downfall and murder of Caesar.
Caesar's decision to allow the striking of coins bearing his own likeness, breaking the ancient taboo of placing the image of a living Roman upon a coin, was one of the reasons for his downfall. On 15 March, 44 BC, Caesar was stabbed 23 times by the gang of Senators.
The coin reflects this moment in history. The reverse features the three principal elements of this ‘patriotic’ act of regicide committed to liberate the Republic from monarchical tyranny. Most striking are the two daggers of differing design, the one symbolising that wielded by Brutus himself, the other that of Cassius his co-consipirator.
These flank the pileus, the cap of Liberty as worn by the divine twins and patrons of Roman armies Castor and Pollux, and which was conferred upon all freed slaves as a mark of their emancipation. The legend EID MAR is the abbreviation of EIDIBVS MARTIIS – the Ides of March.
The coin therefore shows once the murder weapons used to slay Caesar, the precise date of the deed, and the motive.
World record price for Roman coin
The EID MAR aureus opened at £300,000 and after six minutes of bidding from prospective buyers around the world, finally hammered for £3,240,000 including Buyer's Premium (£2,700,000 hammer), setting a new world record for the highest price ever paid for an ancient coin.
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