COMMENTARY: Manley v. Kagin

Numismatic publications have been writing about the case of Dwight N. Manley versus Donald Kagin. Manley is a sports agent who represents big-name NBA players is also a rare coin collector and investor. Manley is a major benefactor of the ANA. Manley accused Kagin of trying to broker a deal that involved a rare Blake & Company gold assay bar that was recovered from the S. S. Central America that was stolen from Manley’s home. Manley claims that Kagin knew the bar was stolen and failed to help in its recovery. Manley filed the complaint to have Kagin dismissed from the ANA for violating the ANA’s Code of Ethics.

Kagin runs the family’s firm in Tiburon, California. Kagin holds a Ph. D. in numismatics and is a member of the ANA Board of Governors. He asserts that the bar was not reported as stolen and when he was informed that it was stolen, he worked with Manley and the police to have the thief arrested. A public hearing was held on May 29, 2007, at the Long Beach Coin Expo.

The ANA released their findings the next day taking no action against Kagin but suggesting that he consider performing a bit more due diligence on future transactions. The following day, Manley’s attorney said that his client is considering further actions against Kagin.

Of all the evidence presented at the hearing was the one that said the bar was not reported stolen. Kagin claimed that he checked whether the bar was stolen through some sources, but did not find any information. Manley claims that Kagin knew Manley was the anonymous purchaser of the bar at an auction in 2000. He said that he sold many of the bars and has sold the bar in question shortly after its recovery.

So let me get this straight… Manley sold some of the bars, did not report that this bar was stolen, and expected Kagin to know that Manley still owned this bar that was bought six years prior? I do not understand Manley’s logic. Without a report that the bar was stolen, how was Kagin supposed to know?

The numismatic value of the Blake & Company gold assay bar has increased along with the price of gold. If Manley subsequently sold the bar at a higher price than it would have sold earlier, Manley was not what the lawyers call “injured” in this action. Manley probably benefited by the delayed sale.

By Manley and his attorney, Christopher L. Pitet, considering “further action” suggests that Manley does not respect the Code of Ethics that he accuses Kagin of violating. By continuing to pursue actions against Kagin, Manley is attempting to “impair the prestige of the membership therein.” Manley must “base all of [his] dealings on the highest plane of justice, fairness and morality, and to refrain from making false statements as to the condition of a coin or as to any other matter” as prescribed by the ANA bylaws.

I am not defending Kagin, but unless Manley can show that he was injured in any way by Kagin, which the ANA Board of Governors said he was not, then Manley should be thankful that his property was returned and move on. Going further will only injure Manley’s reputation with the ANA membership. Or as we said when I was younger: GET OVER IT!

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