Biggest coin dealer in world faces bankruptcy

THE WORLD'S biggest dealer in antique Greek and Roman coins is facing bankruptcy proceedings in California. Bruce McNall, 44, who runs Numismatic Fine Arts in Los Angeles, has been taken to court by four creditors, including three banks, who claim that he owes them dollars 162m ( pounds 109m).

Their petition for the immediate liquidation of his assets was converted by the judge into a 'Chapter 11' proceeding which means, under US bankruptcy law, that an administrator will be appointed to take over Mr McNall's businesses and pay the creditors if possible.

The international coin market will be shaken by this development in Mr McNall's affairs - which appears to signal the disappearance of the world's biggest buyer.

Mr McNall has always seemed a flamboyant figure in the small, scholarly world of antique coin dealing. He began collecting as a schoolboy and levered himself into the big time by attracting millionaire clients. He formed a spectacular collection for the movie mogul Sy Weintraub, then negotiated its sale to Bunker Hunt, who, with his brother Herbert, inherited the largest oil fortune in the US. They lost the lot by trying to corner the world silver market, ending up bankrupt.

In their heyday, McNall sold the brothers coins and antiquities worth about dollars 50m which had to be dispersed by Sotheby's in 1990 on behalf of the Hunts' creditors for rock bottom prices. A trust that is liquidating Herbert Hunt's assets joined the three banks suing McNall last week. The trust is seeking repayment of the dollars 915,000 Herbert Hunt paid in the early 1980s for an allegedly antique bust that turned out to be some 30 years old. Mr McNall had agreed to pay the money back but still owes about dollars 750,000.

In 1986, Mr McNall helped Merrill Lynch launch the dollars 7.3m Athena I coin investment fund, which proved so successful that the dollars 25.1m Athena II was lauched two years later. The funds bought a series of a huge coin hoards found illicitly around the Mediterranean in the 1980s.

The recession in the coin market led Merrill Lynch, on Mr McNall's advice, to start dispersing the Athena collections at a loss last year.

Mr McNall invested the fortune he had made in the coin business in film production and racehorses. Last year he still had about 200 horses.

The French-owned Credit Lyonnais Bank Nederland is Mr McNall's biggest creditor, claiming to have lent dollars 121m to his enterprises.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor