Omaha, Neb., coin dealer Tom Reynolds is seeking the return from
Stack's Bowers Galleries of 59 U.S. half cents and large cents the
firm offered at auction earlier this year and that Reynolds claims
were among the $1.8 million in coins stolen from him in a robbery by
two men 12 years ago.
Reynolds said July 26 that Stack’s Bowers officials were initially
cooperative with him, but then for reasons unknown to him, the auction
firm subsequently severed all communications. Reynolds is now seeking
the return of the coins by using private legal assistance and the aid
of Omaha law enforcement officials.
Reynolds also filed a complaint July 25 with the Professional
Numismatists Guild against Stack’s Bowers, since several of its
principals are PNG members.
Reynolds said he was working with Stack’s Bowers Galleries
officials to get the coins returned soon after he determined that 11
coins sold March 29 in the firm’s auction in Baltimore and 48 more
offered in an April 5 online auction were among the coins taken in an
April 25, 1999, theft, when several items were removed from his car
while it was parked in the driveway of his residence.
Reynolds was unloading his car after returning from the 1999
Central States Numismatic Society Convention in Milwaukee and was
inside his house when the theft occurred. Within 24 hours of the
theft, some of the coins stolen surfaced in New York and others were
found in Miami. Other stolen pieces remained missing, however.
In the ensuing two weeks and within days of one another, two men —
Alexander Volis, from the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn and
Michael Kapelushnik from Miami — were arrested in their respective
cities. Both were charged, convicted and eventually imprisoned for the
theft. Volis and Kapelushnik served prison sentences of 27 months and
24 months, respectively, and are no longer incarcerated.
It was shown during the case that the two men had followed
Reynolds from Milwaukee to his residence in Omaha, stopping along the
way when he did, and executed the theft once Reynolds went inside his home.
Of the $1.8 million in early U.S. copper coins stolen, pieces
valued at $1.25 million were recovered subsequent to the arrest of
Volis and Kapelushnik. None of the remaining $550,000 in stolen
inventory had surfaced in 12 years until the coins Reynolds identified
as his appeared in the Stack’s Bowers consignments for the March 29
and April 5 auctions.
The 59 coins in question were consigned to Stack’s Bowers by a
Russian dealer from Moscow, according to Omaha Police Detective
William G. Fell, who has handled the theft investigation since April
25, 1999. Reynolds placed the value of the 59 coins at between $30,000
Reynolds said he was able to identify that 11 coins sold March 29,
2011, by Stack’s Bowers were his, based on diagnostics from his
records. Once he determined that 48 of the coins offered in the April
5 online auction were also from the stolen coins, Reynolds said he was
able to convince Stack’s Bowers President Chris Napolitano to withdraw
the lots from the sale.
The 48 online lots were shipped from California to the CSNS show
in April in Rosemont, Ill., where Reynolds said he was able to examine
the coins and identify them with his detailed descriptions and photographs.
Reynolds said he was told by Brian Kendrella, Stack’s Bowers
operations manager, whom Napolitano assigned to the situation, that if
the Omaha Police Department secured and had served a subpoena, the
coins would be shipped to Omaha for police there to determine ownership.
With the aid of the Douglas County Attorney’s Office in Omaha,
Detective Fell secured a court subpoena on May 31 and sent it to Kendrella.
Reynolds said his last contact with Stack’s Bowers officials was
when he talked with Napolitano and Kendrella in June in Baltimore
during the Whitman Coin Expo there. Reynolds said he was informed then
that the Russian dealer who consigned the coins in question has not
replied to Stack’s Bowers inquiries.
Fell said that he has talked with Stack’s Bowers’ California
attorney, Douglas Frye, who told him the subpoena was not valid and
that Stacks’ Bowers would not comply with the subpoena. Fell said he
learned that a subpoena would have to be not only obtained in
California, but also formally served there. Stack’s Bowers has
corporate offices in California and in New York City.
Omaha law enforcement authorities or Reynolds have taken no
additional action to seek a new subpoena.
Coin World placed several phone calls to and left
messages for Frye, the Stack’s Bowers attorney, but the calls were not
returned as of press time.
PNG Executive Director Robert Brueggeman told Coin World
July 26 he was in receipt of a July 25 email from Reynolds outlining
his request to file a complaint. Brueggeman said he had just begun the
initial steps to process the complaint.
PNG’s legal counsel, Armen Vartian, said he could not comment on
Reynolds’ complaint as he had a conflict of interest because he had
discussed details of the situation with someone associated with the
case before the PNG complaint was filed. ■