100kg gold coin stolen from Berlin museum

The Big Maple Leaf weighs as much as a refrigerator, and has a face value of C$1 million (S$1.04 million), but by gold content alone it is worth up to US$4.5 million (S$6.3 million).
The Big Maple Leaf weighs as much as a refrigerator, and has a face value of C$1 million (S$1.04 million), but by gold content alone it is worth up to US$4.5 million (S$6.3 million).PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BERLIN • You could never palm it, flip it or plunk it into a vending machine, but apparently it can be pinched: The world's largest gold coin, a 100kg Canadian monster called the Big Maple Leaf, has been stolen from the Bode Museum in Berlin, police said.

The coin is about 53.3cm in diameter and more than 2.5cm thick. It has the head of Queen Elizabeth II on one side and a maple leaf on the other. Its face value is one million Canadian dollars (S$1.04 million), but by gold content alone it is worth up to US$4.5 million (S$6.3 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 burglars seemed to have broken in through a window above railway tracks running along the back of the museum during a 21/2-hour period when the trains pause for the night.

The police were alerted to the break-in at 4am local time and think that it took place between 3.20am and 3.45am. The window, about 3m to 4m above the tracks, stood ajar and appeared to have been "forcibly opened", said police spokesman Winfrid Wenzel.

Officers found a ladder on the elevated railway's roadbed, which is near the museum's back wall. The police's 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 Spree River.

Experts said it would be difficult to sell the coin, but worried that it could be melted down and the gold resold on the open market.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2017, with the headline '100kg gold coin stolen from Berlin museum'. Print Edition | Subscribe