By CoinWeek News Staff …..
Officials at the Bode Museum in Berlin awoke to the shocking reality that one the museum’s most valuable holdings, a 100-kilogram pure gold Canadian coin weighing about 220 pounds and with a face value of one million dollars Canadian had been spirited away by a team of thieves overnight, apparently through a window accessible by a ladder positioned from an adjoining building.
The coin, worth four times its face value in gold bullion alone, was on loan to the museum from a private collector. Known as the “Big Maple Leaf“, the 100-kilogram gold coin measures 20.9 inches (53 centimeters) in diameter and is 1.18 inches (three centimeters) thick. It would most likely have required more than one person to move it. Police suspect that the thieves might have escaped using public transportation. An S-bahn station, a German above ground public train station, is located nearby the crime scene.
The Big Maple Leaf is a high-profile gold coin manufactured in limited numbers in 2007 as a promotional item and collectible. Only five examples of its type exist. Known as the first “million dollar” coin ever struck, the coin demonstrated the Royal Canadian Mint’s breakthrough in making .99999 fine gold coins, a feat which, according to the Museum, earned the coin a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. The high purity content of the coin and its weight mean that its surfaces are easily susceptible to damage through improper handling.
The coin has been on display at the museum since December 2010.
Museum officials have released images of the coin, which features Susan Blunt’s (View Designer’s Profile) effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse and Stan Witten’s Maple Leaf design on the reverse, in hopes that the public might be able to help authorities recover the coin intact.
However, with the high intrinsic value of the coin–approximately $4.5 million–a far more likely outcome is that the coin will be or has already been destroyed, in order to facilitate the sale and transport the large amount of gold without attracting attention.
The coin would be impossible to sell publicly due to the high-profile nature of the theft and how easily it would be for officials to match its pedigree to the stolen coin.
When news broke of the theft, media outlets around the world began to pick up the story. CoinWeek will continue to follow the case and update you when additional details emerge.
Canadian Gold Maple Leaf Coins Currently Available on eBay