Court Brouhaha Over Ancient Coins
LOS ANGELES (CN) - A businessman sued a rare coin dealer for more than $3.5 million, claiming the L.A. dealer refuses to return several ancient Greek coins and a bronze Roman head of Lucius Aelius Verus as Caesar.
Peter Guber, as trustee for the Guber Family Trust, sued dealers Robert Freeman and Tory Freeman, partners in Freeman & Sear, on July 3 in Superior Court.
Guber, an art and antique collector and entrepreneur, claims that from 2008 he bought and sold ancient coins through the dealers "without incident." In that time, he says, he built a collection of 84 Greek coins.
In 2010, Guber says, agreed to let the Freemans take possession of the coins so they could sell them for him on consignment. The coin dealers sold 38 of the coins, and relying on their advice, Guber says, he agreed to trade 42 of the remaining coins for a bronze Roman head of Lucius Aelius Verus as Caesar.
Lucius Aelius Varus, 101-138, was an adopted son of Hadrian. He died before he attained the emperorship.
Guber claims the Freemans told him they would auction the bronze head in Paris on June 15, 2012 for up to $2.7 million.
That left four unsold ancient silver coins, the oldest of which dates back to 350 B.C., Guber says. He says he allowed the Freemans to keep the coins, based on an understanding that they would eventually sell them.
Though the Freemans in June 2012 told Guber they had aborted plans to sell the bronze head in Paris, they promised they would continue to try to sell it, Guber says.
But by March this year, the coins and bronze head were still looking for a new owner. Guber says he asked the Freemans to return his property.
"Later on March 7, 2014, Mr. Guber discovered that defendants were sued by Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc. (Goldberg). In that lawsuit (Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. SCI21209), Goldberg alleges, among other things, that defendants pledged as security for a debt owed by defendants the bronze head and possibly some or all of the missing coins. Mr. Guber was unaware of this pledge, and at no time consented to the use of the trust's property as collateral for the debts of defendants," the July 3 complaint states.
The first lawsuit, filed in August 2013 and obtained by Courthouse News, claimed that the Freemans had defrauded Goldberg, bought coins under an alias without paying for them, bounced checks and delayed payments. Goldberg sought $2.1 million in damages.
Guber says that despite the Freemans' assurances, they have not returned the bronze head and coins.
He seeks $3,523,550 in damages and an order that forces the Freemans to return them
He is represented by Mark Campbell with Loeb & Loeb.
Freeman and Sear did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.