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The E-Sylum: Volume 20, Number 14, April 2, 2017, Article 11

GIANT GOLD MAPLE LEAF COIN STOLEN

It doesn't happen often, but I'm among the first to know when a coin news story goes viral - my inbox lights up with emails from around the world sharing various versions of a new story. This week the influx was about the theft of the "Big Maple Leaf" gold coin from the Bode Museum in Berlin. Most readers have already heard the news by now, but here are a couple of the better articles I've seen on the news. -Editor

Big Maple Leaf

According to updated reports, German investigators believe that it took only about 25 minutes for thieves to make off with a 100 kilogram pure gold coin earlier in the week.

The coin, created by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007, dubbed the Big Maple Leaf, had been on display in Berlin’s Bode Museum since 2010, was stolen around 3:30 a.m. local time Monday. Police said that it appears the thieves gained access to the museum from the city tram tracks, which were shut down at the time. The thieves used a ladder to bridge the distance between the tracks and a museum window, which they jarred open.

There was still no mention how the thieves bypassed the museum’s security system.

After breaking bulletproof glass, the burglars (police suspect there was more than one person involved because of the sheer size of the coin) exited the museum the same way they came in. The coin was then moved along the tracks to the Hackescher Markt, a popular market square in the city, and was then lowered to the ground using a pulley system.

“It’s definitely a case that involved a high amount of criminal energy,” Bernhard Weisser, the director of the Bode Museum’s Numismatic Collection, was quoted by the Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail as saying.

While the coin has a face value of $1 million, at current prices the coin is worth around $4 million as gold was hovering around $1,245 an ounce Thursday. Gold prices have fallen more than 1% since the coin was first stolen; the same day prices hit a one-month high.

Investigators expect that the coin will be melted down so it can be sold and transported easier.

To read the complete article, see:
It Took 25 Minutes For Thieves To Steal 100kg Coin - German Investigators (www.forbes.com/sites/kitconews/2017/03/31/it-took-25-minutes-for-thieves-to-steal-100kg-coin-german-investigators/#2604ecee675d)

Alan Luedeking forwarded this BBC News article. -Editor

"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 next to the railway tracks," police spokesman Winfrid Wenzel told Reuters news agency. "They then managed to enter the building and went to the coin exhibition."

"The coin was secured with bullet-proof glass inside the building. That much I can say," he added - but refused to discuss details about security staff or the alarm system.

To read the complete article, see:
Solid gold coin worth $4m stolen from Berlin museum (www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39409754)

Björn Schöpe published the following Editorial in the March 30, 2017 issue of CoinsWeekly. -Editor

in the previous issue, I rejoiced about having no bad news at all in sight, and asked you to check with the colleagues of the daily press for any such releases. Now the daily press – not only in Germany but throughout the world – reports in great detail, for a change, on an incident that concerns the numismatic community. And, of course, the incident is a sad one. The heist of the Big Maple Leaf from the Berlin Bode Museum makes the front pages and has received even scorn and derision already.

After all, the burglars seemed to have had an easy job: it only took a ladder, a rope and a wheelbarrow to snatch 3.7 million euros worth in gold. The truth is, though: many things that appear to be so easy have been carefully planned. As long as investigations are going on, we should keep in mind that security systems in the Berlin Münzkabinett have worked in the past decades and even centuries (please read our related News #1).

Let’s hope that the coin will soon be exhibited again. Unfortunately, it was very likely the only one of the five coins – that have also entered the Guinness Book of Records – that was ever to be displayed to the public and not be stored in a vault permanently. We very much hope that the Berlin Münzkabinett and its visitors will soon get this attraction back!

This is from in article in that CoinsWeekly issue. -Editor

Since Monday, all 19 houses of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin have further tightened up safety. How the thieves managed to overcome security systems, is not yet clear. Director-General of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Michael Eissenhauer, announced in an official statement: “We are shocked that the burglars overcame our security systems, which we have successfully used to protect our objects for many years.” The burglars have proceeded with an enormous criminal energy and brutality. In the last decades at least there has been no previous incident of this kind in the entire museums community. “A heist of such a dimension constitutes a challenge for the Berlin police as well”, said a police spokesman.

The Münzkabinett staff is shaken and stunned. Nobody would have believed that the huge gold coin could be taken by perpetrators.

Actually, Director of the Münzkabinett, Bernhard Weisser, has to go back as early as 1718 to track a similar heist in the Berlin Münzkabinett. The then castellan and a blacksmith of the royal court had embezzled the collection of Frederick William I on a large scale. They were caught and subsequently quartered. The present incident raises the question whether or not the thieves had insider knowledge. The break-in was certainly well-planned. “A heist of this dimension isn’t just something an ordinary person can accomplish in passing. It requires detailed planning”, a police spokesman is quoted in the media.

The Big Maple Leaf is thought to be impossible to sell. The burglars are very likely to try to melt down the haul. That, however, is also difficult on a technical level. Police, therefore, are asking anyone to come forward if having been offered larger quantities of gold, in an unusual format. A use in every-day life is less likely, although with tongue in cheek, Berlin Transport Company, BVG, excluded it already. “In light of current events”, it announced via Twitter that the BVG ticket machines do not accept any 100 kilo coins. Police then added, also via Twitter: “But you are welcome to change any 100 kilo coins at every local police station.”

It is to be hoped that the coin will be found and the thieves caught. The Münzkabinett at any rate certainly misses the Big Maple Leaf as a crowd puller with young people already.

To read the complete article, see:
Giant gold coin stolen from Bode Museum (www.coinsweekly.com/en/News/Giant-gold-coin-stolen-from-Bode-Museum/4?&id=4622)

Thanks to everyone who passed along this news, including Howard Berlin, Joe Esposito, David Klinger, Ed Krivoniak, Bob Leuver, Alan Luedeking, John Lupia, Kavan Ratnatunga, and Leon Saryan. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
CANADA AUTHORIZES MILLION-DOLLAR GOLD COIN? (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v10n06a27.html)
CANADA'S MILLION-DOLLAR COIN UNVEILED (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v10n18a30.html)

U.S. Rare Coin Investments


Wayne Homren, Editor

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To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address: whomren@gmail.com

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