Press releases related to the Museum Theft

Suspect Pleads Guilty in ANA Money Museum Theft

Former ANA Employee Stole About $1 Million in Coins

 

COLORADO SPRINGS - Former ANA collections manager Wyatt Yeager entered a guilty plea today in Federal District Court in Wilmington, DE, to the theft of approximately 300 historically significant coins and other numismatic objects, valued at $984,740, from the American Numismatic Association Money Museum, ANA President Tom Hallenbeck has announced.


Yeager _2007Yeager, 33, was the museum's collections manager from January through March 2007 and is charged with Theft of Major Artwork, violation of Title 18, United States, Section 668. Yeager faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and three years supervised release following any term of imprisonment. Among the stolen items are an Australian 1813 Holey Dollar, a 1795 Half Eagle and an 1836 Gobrecht Dollar.

The theft was discovered by museum officials in October 2007 and was the subject of an extensive FBI investigation after museum staff confirmed the missing items. The museum staff worked with authorities during the investigation and played a critical role in helping to uncover vital evidence in the case. The theft was kept confidential so as not to compromise the ongoing investigation, during which Yeager relocated to Ireland. Yeager sold numerous rare coins stolen from the museum.

"This is a terrible loss for the ANA, the hobby and for coin collectors everywhere," Hallenbeck said. "Prosecution of this crime has been pursued in accordance with the law. The ANA is continuing this investigation and will diligently pursue the recovery of the stolen items."

The ANA retained Robert Wittman, Inc., a security and recovery consulting firm that specializes in recovering stolen art and collectibles, to investigate and recover the stolen coins.  Robert K. Wittman, the company's founder and chief investigator, was the founder of the FBI's National Art Crime Team.

A list of stolen items can be found here. A link to the U.S. Department of Justice press release can be found here.

As a result of the theft, the ANA has embarked on an upgrade to its security systems and further modified its internal security procedures. In addition, many of the ANA's important coins are being encapsulated by NGC to allow better inventory control through modern bar coding technology, photography and other enhanced security procedures.

"I want to reassure our members - and hobbyists everywhere - that the ANA is committed to improving the security of its collection, which is a true national treasure. As new technologies are developed, we will continually assess our security needs," Hallenbeck said. "Unfortunately, about 90 percent of museum thefts have some insider component."

"Many of the stolen items were desirable and historically significant," Hallenbeck said. "The ANA maintains theft insurance for its numismatic collections, but no amount of insurance can adequately replace these coins - or the loss of trust or sense of helplessness that we all feel following such a theft."

The ANA's Edward C. Rochette Money Museum, which opened in Colorado Springs in 1967, is the nation's largest museum dedicated exclusively to numismatics. Its collection of 275,000 numismatic objects includes money from its earliest uses 2,600 years ago to individual coins worth millions of dollars and modern issues, as well as paper money, coins, tokens and medals from throughout the world.

The American Numismatic Association is a nonprofit congressionally chartered organization dedicated to educating and encouraging people to study and collect money and related items. The ANA helps its 28,000 members and the public discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of programs including its education and outreach programs, museum, library, publications, conventions and seminars.  For more information about the ANA, visit www.money.org.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 12, 2012

Wyatt Yeager Sentenced to 27 months in ANA Museum Theft

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (April 24, 2012) - Former ANA collections manager Wyatt Yeager, 33, has been sentenced to 27 months in federal prison, two years supervised release and ordered to pay $948,505 in restitution for the theft of approximately 300 historically significant coins and objects from the American Numismatic Association Money Museum in Colorado Springs, CO.


Yeager _2007The sentence was imposed today in Federal District Court in Wilmington, DE. Judge Leonard P. Stark imposed the sentence based on Yeager's guilty plea in January to one count of Theft of Major Artwork, a violation of Title 18, United States, Section 668.

"The harm caused by this theft transcends monetary loss - it was a terrible loss for the association and for collectors everywhere. The ANA's collection provides a window into the history of society, culture and economics from the ancient world to the present day. Because of Mr. Yeager's actions, significant cultural items will not be available to museum visitors, researchers and other interested groups," ANA President Tom Hallenbeck said. "We are glad to see justice was served. Now that this case is behind us, the ANA can focus on its educational mission."

Yeager embezzled more than $492,205 in rare coins from the ANA's Money Museum and sold these items in auctions in Baltimore in May 2007, St. Louis in June 2007 and Melbourne, Australia, in July 2007. One of the coins in the Australian sale was the rare Australian 1813 Holey Dollar, which sold for $155,755.

Yeager embezzled an additional $492,535 in rare coins and sold them in an auction in Germany.

Yeager was the museum's collections manager from January through March 2007. The theft was discovered by museum officials in October 2007 and was the subject of an extensive FBI investigation after museum staff confirmed the missing items.

"These charges are the result of the joint efforts of this office and Special Agent Thomas K. Vest, of the FBI Colorado Springs Resident Agency, Denver Division," said Charles M. Oberly III, United States Attorney for the District of Delaware. "The embezzlement of such a large number of rare coins is a serious crime. Aggravating the seriousness of the offense is the fact that the coins are cultural property, a part of our history."

"The FBI will continue to pursue those who misappropriate rare items, such as the coins embezzled by Yeager, and appreciate the District of Delaware's commitment to prosecuting this significant crime," said James F. Yacone, FBI Special Agent in charge of the Denver, Colo., Division.

The ANA retained Robert Wittman, Inc., a security and recovery consulting firm that specializes in recovering stolen art and collectibles, to investigate and recover the stolen coins. The company can be contacted at 610-361-8929.

This case was prosecuted by David L. Hall, Assistant United States Attorney. Hall has an extensive history of handling crimes involving art and cultural property. For more information on the case, contact Oberly or Hall at 302-573-6277.

A list of stolen items and other information on the theft can be found at www.money.org, by clicking on "Communications" and selecting "Museum Theft."

The American Numismatic Association is a congressionally chartered nonprofit educational organization dedicated to encouraging people to study and collect money and related items. The ANA helps its 28,000 members and the public discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of education and outreach programs, as well as its museum, library, publications, conventions and seminars. For more information, call 719-632-2646 or go to www.money.org.

Australian Holey Dollar Returned to ANA Money Museum

The 1813 Holey dollar was returned to the American Numismatic Association's Edward C. Rochette Money Museum on Oct. 23.

The Holey dollar is an 1813 Australian coin struck on a 1788 Spanish-American real piece of Charles III from Mexico City. It has a large hole punched out of it; around the hole is an added legend "NEW SOUTH WALES 1813" on the obverse and "FIVE SHILLINGS" on the reverse. Australia's first domestic coin, around 350 Holey dollars survive today.
  
The Spanish real was widely used by many countries as international currency because of its uniformity and milling characteristics. Some countries, like Australia, countersigned the Spanish dollar so it could be used as their local currency. The Spanish dollar remained legal tender in the U.S. until the Coinage Act of 1857.
 
"We are delighted to have the Holey dollar returned to our museum collection," said ANA Executive Director Jeff Shevlin.
 
The historically significant coin was among more than 300 stolen from the museum by former ANA Collection Manager Wyatt Yeager, who was sentenced in April to 27 months in federal prison, two years of supervised release and ordered to pay $948,505 in restitution.
 
Yeager sold the Holey dollar in a July 2007 auction in Melbourne, Australia.
 
Coinworks, Ltd., the Australian numismatic firm that returned the Holey Dollar to the ANA, acquired the coin from an Australian auction house in July 2007. The company specializes in Australian rare coins and notes.

"Coinworks is an organization that prides itself on its strong ethic and commitment to the industry. That Coinworks initiated the discussions regarding the return of the 1813 Holey dollar to its rightful owner (ANA) is a clear demonstration of the principles by which we operate," said Belinda Downie of Coinworks.

Other recovered coins

The ANA has also recovered several other stolen coins, including a gold pattern from The Netherlands, several Mexican Reales from the 15th to 17th centuries, a Tetradrachm of Lysimachus from Thrace, and coins from Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica and Peru.

Upon their return, the coins were photographed, cataloged and returned to the Money Museum's vaults.

Additional security measures

The ANA upgraded its security and surveillance systems following the theft, and continues to enhance security measures. In the coming months, the museum also will hire additional part-time staff to catalog and photograph the ANA's museum collection and make museum resources available online to members.

"This project will take several years, but it is intended to secure this valuable ANA resource," Shevlin said.

If you have additional information or tips about coins stolen from the ANA collection, please contact 719-482-9841.

The American Numismatic Association is a congressionally chartered nonprofit educational organization dedicated to encouraging people to study and collect money and related items. The ANA helps its 28,000 members and the public discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of education and outreach programs, as well as its museum, library, publications, conventions and seminars. For more information, call 719-632-2646 or go to www.money.org.