Hannes Tulving Rare Coin Investments--under investigation by federal and state authorities for allegedly overpricing coins and reneging on guarantees--has recently sold nearly all of its assets in order to stay in business, the company's owner said Thursday.
Until recently Tulving was one of the nation's largest coin dealers, selling more than $30 million in coins to more than 4,600 clients last year alone.
But since March, the 14-year-old company has vacated its spacious offices and is now operating out of a two-bedroom house in Newport Beach. Gone are the company's three Mercedes-Benzes, Lear jet and two toll-free phone lines.
Owner Hannes Tulving Jr. said the assets were sold "to keep the company going." He added that he even sold his house in order to keep the company afloat and that the number of employees has fallen from 27 to just five. Two of those workers are his father and brother.
Tulving has blamed his misfortune as well as that of his customers on a mini-crash in the rare coin market that occured in late March.
Officials with both the Federal Trade Commission and state Department of Corporations are looking into charges that Tulving overpriced coins for years. Some people in the coin industry claim Tulving's customers suffered more than those at other companies after the market dip because the value of their coins had been inflated.
Tulving has denied those allegations, and neither government agency has filed any charges against the company.
On Thursday, Tulving said he has been hurt just as much as any of his customers.
"Before this market change and crash, I was worth between $2 million and $3 million."
"Not much," he said. "Probably zero."