10 June 2019
A unique 17th-century gold coin which was stolen at the end of the Second World War, has been returned to Germany after initially being sold by the auction house Künker.
The 6 ducat coin, known as a ‘Alchemistentaler’ was minted under Frederick I of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg in 1687. It is said to be the only coin of its kind and is thought to have been given as a gift to William Ernest of Saxe-Weimar.
After the Second World War, the coin was stolen from Weimar in 1945 – along with a total of 200 other numismatic items. A large part of the robbed items, including the piece in question, were provably sold by the auction house Grunthal & Ganz in New York in 1950.
The coin was consigned through the auction house Künker in 2017 and, with the auctioneers beliving the coin was not part of the missing collection, the coin was sold for €28,000. However, after the sale, but before the delivery to the buyer, the suspicion was raised that the coin might have been stolen from the Weimar collection.
Künker immediately stopped all further delivery operations in order to irrefutably resolve this case. After the suspicion was proven to be true, Künker’s executives decided to return the significant coin to where it was minted.
The coin has now been passed over to the Klassik Stiftung Weimar, a group of German museums.
Ulrich Künker said:
‘My partner and I decided that Weimar’s property had to be returned to its original collection irrespective of all legal contingencies. We paid off the consignor and informed the buyer that we would not be able to transfer its ownership as it was a stolen item. The auction house has borne all costs incurred in the restitution of the rare piece… This restitution costs a lot of money. But we gladly spent it for this good cause. I hope this gold Alchemistentaler receives the well-deserved attention of an interested public audience it deserves in its old and new home.’