Thieves broke into Berlin’s Bode Museum yesterday morning (27 March) and stole a 100kg, pure gold Canadian coin worth an estimated €3.7m.
The burglary took place between 3.20am and 3.45am. Police say they were alerted by a security guard at the museum around 4am; a special art unit of the regional force is investigating the theft.
A ladder that police discovered on the railway next to the museum suggests that the thieves entered through a window three to four metres above the tracks. Located on Museum Island, the Bode houses Berlin’s coin collection, one of the largest in the world, as well as sculpture and Byzantine art.
The coin, which police said was protected by bulletproof glass, carries a nominal value of C$1m and was produced by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007. Known as the “Big Maple Leaf” and made of the purest bullion, only five have so far been produced, according to the mint’s website. One side features a maple leaf, the other a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.
The reverse of the "Big Maple Leaf" gold coin (© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Münzkabinett; Photo: Reinhard Saczewski)
“We are shocked that the burglars overcame our security system,” says Michael Eissenhauer, the general director of Berlin State Museums. “The perpetrators used a lot of force and we are glad no one was hurt. We hope the criminals will be caught and that this valuable coin will be returned undamaged.”
Police could not give details of how the thieves managed to circumvent the alarm system and carry the coin off. Given its weight, officers are assuming that more than one perpetrator was involved.
A police alert asked members of the public to come forward if they saw anything suspicious in the area between 2am and 4am or if they have been offered large quantities of gold for sale, “possibly in an unusual form”.