Greg Bennick's latest interview for the Newman Numismatic Portal is with dealer Julian Leidman. Here's the fifth and final part, where Julian talks about robberies and security.
Greg Bennick: Well, if it's any consolation, I expected to interview you from Seattle, where I've
got professional microphones, and I've got a whole setup going on, but I was at the same coin
show that you were, and I'm actually at my parents' place on the east coast. So, instead of my
background being all professional, I've got a background with a photo of my great-grandmother
on the shelf over there, sitting here on my laptop in the basement. And that works for me. I'm
happy to talk to you anywhere, anytime. This is fantastic. Originally, I was going to ask you about
the theft and partial recovery of your coins, but I've enjoyed all the things that we've talked about
so much that I might want to shift that question a bit in case there's something you want to tell
about, because the story is well-known.
I was just maybe going to ask, what advice do you have on security for coin collectors and coin
dealers, just to keep people safe? And if people don't know the background, Julian went through
a theft and partial recovery of some coins. Again, the story is out there if you'd like to find it, and
Julian, you're more than welcome to tell us the story if you like. But really, ultimately, at the end
of the day, learning how we can keep ourselves safe, or some ideas and thoughts to keep in mind
about safety and security would probably be really helpful for people.
Julian Leidman: One thing I learned over the years was, you don't leave your coins in your car
unattended. And we followed that religiously when we went to coin shows. I often traveled with
colleagues. I remember traveling all over with my colleagues at Golden Eagle, who's still in
business in Laurel. And we would go, and there would be three or four of us in the van, and the
van would be loaded. And so, if we stopped someplace, two people would go in and eat, and one
person would stay in the car. Well, I made a mistake. In 2009, I was returning home from
Connecticut, a coin show there. I had been there two or three times, I guess. My in-laws lived in
New Jersey, which is between Connecticut and Maryland. So, they said, ‘Why don't you stop here
for dinner?' I was a little hesitant, but...
Now, going back over things, I really think I was followed from there. I don't know for a fact. And
when I got to New Jersey, I pulled into their home, and I stayed outside on the porch, with the car.
Somebody may have driven by to his house or something like that, and I didn't really pay much
attention to it. And then they said, ‘Well, let's go out to dinner.' And that's- I really should have
said no. And so, we went to this restaurant on a busy route. I went into the restaurant, I backed into
the place where I could see the car right there, and as I was sitting down, the lights are blinking on
the car, and I said, well, I must have hit my keys in my pocket. You know, I must have hit the fob
or something and it set off the alarm. So, I just clicked it and it went off. I had my dinner, and went
outside, and the car had been broken into.
And if I had gone outside at that time, I might have stopped it, I might have gotten shot, I don't
know what would have happened. But, in any event, I was horrified. Here's everything I worked
my whole life for, and... They got two or three cases, including a suitcase full of clothes. So, we
called the local police. I had a friend who's son was with the FBI, I called him, and I never really
realized, but the FBI really has to be invited into a case by a local police agency. So, I ended up
telling the local policeman what was what. I called some of my friends, I put it out on various
numismatic networks that this had happened. The next morning, because I couldn't really drive
home that night, I'm driving home with a broken side window in the van. I drove home, and I put
out more and more publicity.
And eventually, I got a lead from somebody, and he told me that he's being offered some of these
coins, and he mentioned a couple of coins. Very silly coins, but one of which was a valuable, a
1921 Double Eagle that was encapsulated. And also, he mentioned a 1954 S Penny encapsulated
in, I don't know, MS65 or 67. Now, this isn't something that somebody would mention to you, but
that's what they had told this guy. And so, I called the FBI, who had been involved with it, I told
them about this, and they went and talked to the guy, and realized that it probably was the same
coins. And they made arrangements to go find out where the coins were, and they were able to go
and raid the place where the coins were. And it was on West 47th Street in New York City, the
diamond district, where all these guys were buying and selling diamonds, and gold, and coins, and
And this one guy, who was one that bought, evidently, all these coins, and he had to meet these
people in an odd place, and pay them cash or whatever. He made a good buy, but he ended up
going to jail because he never would give up who the coins came from. And the FBI, incredibly,
recovered a huge amount of the coins, in dollar value too. It could have been 80% or 90% of the
value, which was in the millions of dollars. And so, I wasn't dead, although it did take me a long
time to get the coins back from the FBI. but they eventually, through the intervention of some of
my friends and colleagues- Jimmy Hayes was a former congressman from Louisiana, and Jimmy
had obviously befriended other members of Congress, and so he introduced me to Louise
Holtzman from New York City, and she was able to write a letter and contact the FBI on my behalf,
and I was able to eventually get physical possession.
Even though I had gone and looked at them, and ascertained that these were absolutely the same
coins, zero question about it, they were thinking they were going to have to have a trial, and they're
going to need to have these coins as evidence, and it didn't really ever happen that way, because
they never did find the actual thieves. Because the FBI never- they told me at the time that they
never recover more than 5% of what's stolen, and here I had something where they recovered
80+% of the coins. It's absolutely incredible. And so, I was kind of back in business.
Greg Bennick: I'm just glad that you were safe during the robbery, first and foremost, and of
course, like you said, that you got such a big percentage back. Are there any tips or ideas you might
give to folks just to keep in mind as they're going to coin shows, or as they become a dealer, or as
they are dealers, based on your experience, and what you've thought about since then?
Julian Leidman: Well, going to coin shows is less of a problem because nobody knows when
you're going, or where you're going to, or anything like that. But, coming home from a coin show
is a real problem. I mean, this went back to... for as long as I was in business. Before me, people
would leave a coin show, and they'd be followed, and they'd stop, go in to eat, and they come out
and their coins are gone, or their car is gone, whatever. So, that's the main thing. If you're going
stop to eat, there's got to be more than one of you, and you have got to be in the car. There's just
no question about that. So, that's my number one thing. And just watch your surroundings. I
remember coming home from coin shows in Florida, I used to go down to Florida for the month
of January and do four coin shows in Florida, the FUN show and three other little shows around
And so, we were returning home from one of those trips, and my friend and colleague Don Aft,
who I would travel with, he's looking in the back mirror, and he sees somebody following us. So,
he pulls into a gas station, and the other car pulled into the gas station. I get out of the car and start
walking toward the other car, and the other car backs up down a side road for half a mile, just
totally backs up. And we were being followed. So, you have to watch everything. I've been the
victim of sneak thieves at coin shows, where people have stolen something out of a showcase or
something like that. So, the key is eyes and physical presence. Those are the two main things. And
watching who you're talking to. And there's still thieves at coin shows. Just this last weekend in
Baltimore, they caught a thief at the coin show.
And I had seen this guy at the Baltimore show for 10 or 15 years, and I never was in a position to
lose something to him, but I've lost things to other people because I wasn't really the same eyes
and ears, and physical presence that I needed to be. So, those are all very important things. Steve
Ellsworth, a retired army colonel, has done a lot with security, and made many presentations to
numismatic groups about security. Of course, I understood everything he said, and I made that one
mistake. And I made other mistakes too. Mistakes are what cost you, really.
Greg Bennick: I appreciate the story and the insights. It's so important for people. And overall, I
appreciate your stories. You've been so generous with your time. We've been speaking close to
an hour at this point, and the history and all of it has been just so incredible. I'm just so thankful
that you were able to take some time today and speak with me, and share some of your experiences
over the course of your career. It's just been wonderful.
Julian Leidman: Well, that's very nice. I'm happy to talk to you. And I can ramble on for- You
know, we could do this for another couple of hours too, but I don't think there's anybody that
really needs to watch an interview that long. You know more about that than I do. So, I'm
appreciative to be able to share the time with you.
Greg Bennick: That's fantastic. Well, if folks are interested in hearing more, you can drop a line
to the Newman Numismatic Portal and get in touch with me. My contact information is on the
page where you found this interview, and if people are interested in hearing more, we'll do Julian
Leidman part 2. But for today, Julian, thank you so much on behalf of myself, and also on behalf
of the NNP for taking the time. This has been really fantastic, I really appreciate it.
About the Interviewer
Greg Bennick (www.gregbennick.com) is a keynote speaker and long time coin collector with a focus on major mint error coins. Have ideas for other interviewees? Contact him anytime on the web or via instagram @minterrors.
To watch the complete video, see:
Julian Leidman Interview
To read the complete transcript, see:
Julian Leidman Interview (Transcript)
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
JULIAN LEIDMAN INTERVIEW, PART ONE
JULIAN LEIDMAN INTERVIEW, PART TWO
JULIAN LEIDMAN INTERVIEW, PART THREE
Wayne Homren, Editor
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