LYON, France – Specialist dealers and collectors are being warned about the illegal sale of the so-called ‘Lava Treasure’ of ancient Roman gold coins and plates after a number of items were recovered from the open market. INTERPOL and French police are working to recover the ancient coins.
The rare collection, which dates back to 300 AD, is believed to have been found by divers in the gulf of Lava off the coast of Corsica in the late 20th century. It is considered unique maritime cultural heritage and part of French state property, and therefore should not be sold.
To date, some 450 gold coins from the Lava Treasure have been traced and identified after their sale in Europe and in the US, and enquiries by French authorities are continuing.
Details of the coins have been added to INTERPOL’s stolen works of art database, which has secure online public access, and specialists from INTERPOL and the French National Police are advising coin dealers and collectors who may be offered part of the Lava Treasure to check this database in order to avoid its illegal purchase and to preserve this historical treasure.
INTERPOL's database on stolen works of art currently contains more than 38,000 records, and in addition to being accessible to all 190 National Central Bureaus, some 2,000 users from 80 countries also have access.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the gold coins and plates is asked to contact INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau in Paris (Ref.: OCBC/T 32531) and/or the INTERPOL General Secretariat Ref.: 2011/29679).
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