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The most spectacular art robberies in history

March 29, 2017

Armed up to their teeth, or disguised as policemen - time and again, thieves have pilfered valuable art objects and paintings. Most recently, a valuable but very heavy gold coin was stolen from Berlin's Bode Museum.

Mona Lisa theft in 1911
Image: picture alliance/Mary Evans Picture Library

Called the "Big Maple Leaf," a coin weighing 100 kilograms (220 pounds) was stolen from Berlin's Bode Museum earlier this week. Issued by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007, it features the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. The massive piece has a diameter of 53 centimeters (21 inches) and is three centimeters thick. The piece has also entered the Guinness Book of Records for its unsurpassed purity of 999.99/1000 gold.

The thieves are believed to have broken into the building located on Berlin's famous Museum Island by setting up a ladder from the adjacent tram tracks. The rail service was interrupted when the ladder was found. Deducing there were at least two people involved, investigators later revealed that the thieves transported the stolen coin along the tracks using a very old-fashioned device: a wheelbarrow. 

While this week's incident has been an embarrassment for the Bode Museum, the institution is not alone. Click through the gallery above for other impressive art robberies. In some cases, it was the thieves who were embarrassed in the end. In others, artworks were irreparably damaged or remain lost.