Turkish American Named 'Entrepreneur of the Year' by NRCC

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Jun 18, 2009 4:02 PM
Ahmet Sandikci is a character, as I found out when I interviewed him over the phone yesterday. 

He's also likely the first Turkish American to be named "Entrepreneur of the Year" by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) -- an award he received last week's big Republican fundraising dinner. 

Sandikci -- who made his money as a Porsche importer, but now has devoted himself to his lifelong hobby of numismatics -- the study or collecting money -- runs  Arcade Currency Palace, an award-winning company specializing in "rare museum quality U.S. paper money." 

Though Sandikci has been accused by critics of bad business practices, and of attempting to curry favor with the Republican Party -- a quick search of CQ's Moneyline shows his recent donations have gone to Hillary Clinton and a Turkish Coalition PAC.  The Turkish Coalition PAC did give $1,000 to Virginia Foxx (who nominated him for the NRCC award), but the PAC is bi-partisan and has given to more Democrats than Republicans. 

He tells me he has been interested in money since the age of four, and is proud to have taken a "flea-market-type business" and turned it into something that can "compete with Tiffanys". 

Aside from the business, Sandikci is also an expert on U.S. currency and its history.  He tells me our money is green because the company which used green ink won the bid.  He also tells me the $10,000 bill is the largest denomination, with the exception of the $100,000 bill, which is only allowed for bank-to-bank exchanges.  And he tells me bills were physically smaller, prior to 1928 -- and that the words, "In God We Trust," were added in 1935. 

I asked Sandikci if he believes we will ever cease using currency and move to some Big Brotherish electronic card or chip.  He wasn't sure, but he did assure me this would guarantee he became a "zillionaire."  As I learned,other nations allow a grace period when they change currency, but the U.S. is the only nation that never ceases to honor defunct currency, so long is it is legal tender. 

Sandikci says currency is a safer investment right now than real estate or the stock market, and encourages Americans to invest.  "You're buying U.S. history," he says.  Sandikci also tells me that he will not sell important pieces outside the U.S., because he wants them to remain in this country, and part of America's history. 

At the end of the day, his message is for young Americans to start collecting currency, which to me sounds like a fine idea ...