A 2,000 year old Roman coin minted as a salute to Julius Caesar’s assassination is up for auction. “It’s priceless, but it still has a price tag,” says Arturo Russo, managing director of the auction house Numismatica Ars Classic.
A rare golden coin, one of just three known specimens in the world, is likely to tempt buyers with deep pockets at auction later this spring. Experts estimate that the historical coin could sell for as much as $2 million when it goes on the block in Zurich, reports Bloomberg.
On the 15 March 44 B.C.E., a group of senators stabbed to death the dictator Julius Caesar on the floor of the Roman Senate. Following the assassination, the infamous Roman politician Marcus Junius Brutus is said to have minted the coin to mark his key role in the murder and to celebrate Rome’s freedom from tyranny.
The coin is pierced with a hole indicating that it might have been worn by a high-ranking official around their neck as jewelry. One of Brutus’ high-profile, wealthy supporters - or perhaps even one of his co-assassins - could have worn the coin as a badge of pride, per the statement.
Known as the “Eid Mar” or the “Ides of March,” the coin bears a heroic portrait of Brutus with the inscription BRVT IMP, which casts him as a military victor. He minted several of these coins in silver and gold in Greece, where he fled shortly after killing Caesar and launching ancient Rome into a civil war.
On the reverse, the coin features two daggers - thought to represent Brutus and his co-conspirator, Gaius Cassius - and a Phrygian cap, an accessory similar to the one that emancipated Roman slaves traditionally wore and, to this day, is associated with freedom.
The gold coin to be auctioned has been on display at the British Museum for the past decade, on loan from a private collector. In-person bidding for the coin that could have adorned the neck of one of Caesar’s murderers will be held May 30 at Zürich’s Hotel Baur au Lac, in an auction organized by Numismatica Ars Classica.