Roberto Russo (1945-2012)
May 3, 2012 – Roberto Russo was born in 1945 at Vico Equense, a pleasant summer resort near Naples. He spent his infancy there until the age of 8, when his father moved to Camogli in Liguria. Later, when he was 16, his family came back to Naples, as his father had received a chair at the University of Naples.
His encounter with numismatics was fortuitous when, as a naval engineering student, he came across some gold coins of the Kingdom of Italy which he impulsively bought and later sold with an agreeable profit. Prompted by this pleasant surprise, he decided to have a better look at the numismatic world, starting to frequent local dealers and attending to all major conventions. He soon realized that he could earn a living as a numismatic dealer and decided to throw himself into this job.
At first his interests were contemporary coins but, being a man of refined taste and deep liberal education, he was soon charmed by the appeal of ancient coins. Starting from scratch, he did his utmost to forge ahead and in a reasonable lapse of time acquired the experience he needed to face the world of the major sales, like those held by Bank Leu and M & M.
His capacities, specially a keen eye for forgeries, immediately attracted the attention of the managers of these firms who, in the years to come, would come to appreciate him as their equal. A broad-minded man of great ambitions and qualities, he soon perceived that Italy offered him scanty opportunities and, having reached the point where his name was pretty well known among those in the field, he decided to face the greatest challenge of his life: to establish in Switzerland an auction house. This he did in 1989. After an increasing success, in 2003 he decided to open a new branch in London.
His well known allure, his deep knowledge of Greek and Roman numismatics, combined with his extreme fair-trade practices soon made the Numismatica Ars Classica a landmark for those collectors wishing to sell their collections in the most appropriate way. Today his firm can be considered without doubt a leading name in the field. In the last years Roberto was slowly relinquishing the reins of the company to his elder son Arturo, assisted by his young brother Giuliano, to pursue his studies in the Roman Republican bronze coinages, an Herculean task which only someone fond of challenges like him could face. His achievements, counterbalanced by a great humility and helpfulness, were for some people unexpected, but for those who had the fortune and the pleasure of knowing him, they were more than predictable. His will be a lasting name in the numismatic world.