Stephon Fenton, British coin dealer.

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Stephon Fenton, who had dedicated his life to the coin business, left school at 15, gained experience at Mayfair Coin Company, and ventured out on his own. In 1980, he established “Knightsbridge Coins”, a discreet shop near Christie’s on Duke Street in London’s St. James’s area. At 43, Stephon Fenton had become a leading European coin’s dealer, specializing in American coins. In the early 1990s, a London coin dealer named André de Clermont formed a connection with a mysterious Egyptian jeweler, tied to the Farouk collection. It was revealed that the jeweler, linked to a colonel in Nasser’s army, held coins acquired from Farouk’s unsold lots.

Photo of Stephen Fenton

Stephen Fenton, Auction Director: St James’s Auctions 10 Charles II Street St James’s London SW1Y 4AA

Stephen’s fascination with coins dates back to his early years when he meticulously examined and gathered rare pennies from his mother’s spare change. This initial intrigue evolved into a deep passion for coins, particularly the farthings of Charles II, which eventually became his primary focus.

After gaining valuable experience at Mayfair Coins, Stephen took a bold step in 1975. Armed with a £1,000 loan from his father, he established his enterprise within his uncle’s carpet shop in Knightsbridge, giving rise to the name Knightsbridge Coins. The year 1980 marked a significant move to the present location in St James’s, where the business has steadily grown over the years. In 2004, Stephen expanded the operation by inaugurating the auction division, known as St James’s Auctions.

De Clermont, collaborating with coin dealer Stephen Fenton for financing and valuation, discovered the possibility of the famous Farouk’s 1933 Double Eagle being among the coins. After over a year of dealings, they cautiously inquired about the coin, and to their delight, the jeweler confirmed its existence. The family, unsure about selling, kept the coin, marked as “Rare” in the original 1954 auction envelope. In de Clermont’s words, the jeweler said, “If it comes, it comes.”

In the late summer of 1995, the jeweler, in town with coins to sell, unveiled the 1933 Double Eagle. Stephon Fenton, after negotiations, purchased the coin for $220,000, with an agreement to share profits on a resale with de Clermont. Stephon Fenton stored the coin in a safety deposit box, orchestrating its sale through agents due to its rarity and value.

Stephon Fenton reached out to potential buyers, including Jasper Parrino, a Kansas City dealer, who, in turn, contacted Jack Moore, a coin world figure with ties to the FBI. Jack Moore, a government informant, alerted the FBI about the 1933 Double Eagle. Moore cooperated in a sting operation involving Parrino’s unnamed source, initiating negotiations over price and terms. A deal was struck: Moore’s client would pay $1.5 million, but the delivery had to be in the US. The condition was clear – unless Fenton brought the coin from Europe, there would be no deal.

The Catch As an esteemed international dealer, Stephen Fenton often traveled to New York for significant deals. However, during this occasion, Fenton arrived in New York on a British Airways flight, via the Concorde, accompanied by a 1933 Double Eagle. Passing through U.S. Customs without issue, he declared more than 100 coins valued at $742,450.50 on his forms, spanning from 1830 to 1932 as stated in his documents. The following morning, Fenton convened with American coin dealer Jasper Parrino at the Waldorf Astoria.

On February 7, 1996, Fenton and a cousin joined him for the occasion, securing a room at the Hilton. Around eight in the evening, Fenton contacted Parrino and scheduled a meeting for the following day. Meanwhile, Moore and Freriks settled in at the Kimberly, located a few blocks from the Waldorf-Astoria. Although Moore had a suite reserved at the Waldorf, it was currently occupied by Secret Service agents. The next morning at eight, Freriks escorted Moore to the Waldorf. Collaborating with New York agents, they conducted sound checks in the room, arranged furniture for optimal visuals, and directed Moore on his positioning. Just as they prepared, a call came in—Parrino and Fenton had arrived at the lobby. The agents hastened to an adjacent room, where they set up surveillance via a concealed camera to observe the unfolding events.

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