The world’s largest gold coin stolen in Germany
Controversy has struck German culture, as news broke earlier this week that Berlin’s Bode Museum has been the victim of a theft—in particular, the theft of a very rare, very expensive gold coin, affectionately named “Big Maple Leaf” after its Canadian heritage. Housed in what was considered relative security in the Bode Museum, it was confirmed to regional and national press on the morning of Monday 27th March by museum spokesman Marcus Farr that the coin was stolen in the night.
The artefact, constructed from approximately 100 kilos of pure gold adorning Queen Elizabeth II’s portrait on one side and the Canadian maple leaf on the other, was minted by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007 and had the face value of $1m, but given the purity of the 24-carat gold, was later revalued at closer to $4m. Measuring 53 centimetres in diameter and 3 centimetres in thickness, the “Big Maple Leaf” is considered the largest gold coin in the world, and even features in the Guinness Book of Records due to its “unmatched” degree of purity. For this reason, the item was loaned to the German museum in December 2010 from its native Canada to act as the pièce de résistance for the museum’s coin collection (one of the largest in the world, housing more than 540,000 pieces).
At the time of writing the police have no open leads—or rather, have chosen to keep their lines of enquiry private at this time—but a police spokesman speculated that “based on the information we have so far, we believe that the thief, maybe thieves, broke open a window in the back of the museum, managing to enter the building and went to the coin exhibition. The coin was secured with bullet-proof glass inside the building—that’s as much as I can say”. It’s now been made known that no other pieces were taken during the heist.
However, if BBC reports are to believed, the crime took place at 3:30am on Monday morning, making it more than likely that in order to evade such complex security systems this was a coordinated burglary. That said, how a group of white-collar criminals managed to circumnavigate the museum’s security detail, its alarm system and security instillations remains to be seen, but we can only hope that the thieves are apprehended and the coin is returned in its original state to its former home at the Bode Museum.