Surprising absolutely no sentient being whatsoever, the previously unknown EID MAR aureus that went up for auction October 29th stabbed its pre-sale estimate of £500,000 ($644,150) to a bloody death, selling for £3.24 million ($4.2 million), including buyer’s premium. The hammer price was £2.7 million ($3.5 million).
It has set a new world record as the most expensive ancient coin ever sold at auction. The previous record-holder was a Greek gold stater of Pantikapaion struck between 350 and 300 B.C. that sold in 2012 for $3.25 million. It is famous for the portrait of a satyr on the obverse whose fine detail and expressiveness rank it as one of the greatest masterpieces of die engraving.
The previous record for a Roman coin sold auction was set in 2008 by a sestertius of Hadrian which sold in Geneva for 2 million Swiss Francs ($2.18 million). You wouldn’t think a brass alloy sestertius of any emperor would even be in the same stratosphere as a gold EID MAR, but this is no run-of-the-mill sestertius. Dubbed the “Medallic” Sestertius, it was struck in Rome in 135 A.D. and was the work of die engraver the Alphaeus Master who crafted an exceptional high-relief portrait of Hadrian for the obverse. The reverse depicts the goddess Pax.
Auctioneers Roma Numismatics Limited have not announced the identity of the buyer of the EID MAR. It sure would be nice if it didn’t disappear into an unpublished private collection again.