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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Big Maple Leaf Gold coin burgled from Bode Museum, Berlin

The Royal Canadian Mint created its first million-dollar coin, in Canadian dollars, as a demonstration in 2007 — “because we can,” the mint says on its website — to draw attention to its series of more modestly sized, if still costly, pure gold coins. A spokesman for the mint, said it decided to produce up to 10 copies, which all look like the Big Maple Leaf, after being approached by potential buyers.Interest, however, has been limited. Only five have been produced for sale to date; the last delivery was made in 2008. “We were satisfied with selling five coins we didn’t expect to sell at all,” the spokesperson added.

In October 2007, the Million Dollar Coin was certified by Guinness World Records to be the world's largest gold coin. The coins are manufactured at the Mint's Ottawa facility, where the Mint operates world-class gold and silver refineries, securely stores gold bullion and mints all Royal Canadian Mint gold bullion products and collector coins.  Gold (Au) which is 99.999% pure is defined as having a total of less than 10 parts per million of the following elements: Ag, Al, As, Bi, Cr, Cu, Fe, In, Mg, Mn, Ni, Pb, Pd, Pt, Sn, Si, Ti, Zn and Zr. This refers to the bulk material below the coin surface.

Our Chennai city has a museum in Egmore – ever have been there.  Situated in the heart of the city closer to the Egmore Railway station, its expanse is of 16.25 acres of land comprising of six independent building housing many galleries.   It was formally opened in 1896 by the then Governor Arthur Elibank Havelock and named after its progenitor Lord Connemara, Governor of Madras.  

Away in Western Countries, the significance is more ! - the concept of the museum, which was originally called the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, is traced back to Crown Princess Victoria of Prussia, who published her ideas in a memorandum in 1883. The building was badly damaged in the Second World War and underwent several stages of restoration between 1948 and 1986. In 1956 it was renamed the Bode-Museum after its first director and spiritual founder. German reunification also brought with it the merging of the previously separated collections under the auspices of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, with the decision soon being taken for the museum to undergo an extensive overhaul to bring it up to date with modern museum and conservation requirements. The Bode Museum, which sits on Museum Island in the Spree River, is part of the complex belonging to the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, or in German, the Preussischer Kulturbesitz. The local east-west commuter railway runs across the island along the back of the museum.

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Closed for repairs since 1997, the museum was reopened on October 18, 2006 after a €156 million refurbishment.  It is in news for wrong reasons – one of it displays, which could not be palmed, flipped, plunked into a vending machine, is proven that can be pinched.  It is the  World’s largest gold coin, a 221-pound Canadian monster called the Big Maple Leaf, was stolen overnight from the Bode Museum in Berlin, the police said on Monday.

The coin is about 21 inches in diameter and over an inch thick. It has the head of Queen Elizabeth II on one side and a maple leaf on the other. Its face value is 1 million Canadian dollars, or about $750,000, but by gold content alone, it is worth as much as $4.5 million at current market prices. And though it weighs about as much as a refrigerator, somehow thieves apparently managed to lug it through the museum and up at least one floor to get it out of a window at the back of the building. The police are still trying to figure out exactly how they did it.

The burglars seemed to have broken in through a window above the railway tracks during the two-and-a-half hours when the trains pause for the night. The police were alerted to the break-in at 4 a.m. and think that it took place between 3:20 a.m. and 3:45 a.m. The window, some three to four yards above the tracks, stood ajar and appeared to have been “forcibly opened,” said Winfrid Wenzel, a police spokesman. Officers searching the crime scene found a ladder on the elevated railway’s roadbed, which is near the museum’s back wall. The police declined to give further details, including whether security cameras monitored that window, or whether the museum’s alarm systems had gone off.

The Big Maple Leaf had been on display since December 2010, on a floor below the window in its own bulletproof case. It was surrounded by other, smaller gold coins. The bulletproof glass “appeared to have been violently shattered,” Mr. Wenzel said. But the thieves seemed to know what they wanted; the smaller gold coins were untouched. Given the coin’s weight, the authorities said they suspected that more than one person was involved. Their theory for now is that the thieves dragged the coin through the museum, out the window and then along the railway track, possibly reaching a park on the opposite bank of the river near the Hackescher Markt, a public square in Berlin that is home to a number of late-night bars and cafes. The police appealed for clues from anyone who had been in the area at that time.

With regards – S.  Sampathkumar

28th Mar 2017.

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