US returns ‘rare’ coin worth R$5.1 million to Israel

Would you return a rare coin worth US$1 million (approximately R$5.1 million at current exchange rates)? That’s what the United States did, returning the currency called the “quarter shekel” to Israel, according to CNN.

Manhattan prosecutors held a repatriation ceremony in New York on Monday. The coin, which recalls the Jewish rebellion against Roman rule nearly 2000 years ago, is estimated to be worth US$1 million.

The Americans and Israelis learned from informants that the coin had been discovered by antiquities looters south of Jerusalem. Authorities believe the object was in a stash of thieves’ coins in the area, which is home to important archaeological sites.

The joint smuggling investigation finds the item entered the illegal market before being smuggled into the UK and then exported to the US. But in 2017, Homeland Security officials seized the coin in Colorado, which was going to be auctioned.

The coin is from the fourth of the First Jewish Revolt, which started in 66 AD The IAA (Israel Antiquities Authority) believes there are three more of these circulating in illegal markets, but is only sure of another item of the type, acquired by the British Museum in the years 1930.

In a statement, IAA Director Eli Eskosido described the return of the coin as “the beginning of a very positive and important trend towards the restoration of cultural heritage assets”.

Colonel Matthew Bogdanos, head of the Antiquities Trafficking Unit at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, stressed the importance of this return. “The repatriation of this extraordinary coin represents a precious piece of history finally coming home.”

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