Back in 2007, the Royal Canadian Mint wowed the numismatic community (and much of the world) when it issued a special “Big Maple Leaf”—a real legal tender gold coin of unmatched girth and purity.
Weighing in at 100 kilograms—a staggering 32,150 troy ounces!—and struck from ultra-pure “five-nines” gold, the coin is .99999 fine (or 99.999% pure) gold. Its nominal face value is C$1 million, but its intrinsic value is much greater.
Somehow, this massive and extremely valuable gold coin has actually gone missing.
Suspension of Disbelief
It’s the type of story that would defy belief even if it were the plot of a Hollywood screenplay. The 100-kilo gold coin was being displayed in a cabinet at the Bode Museum in Berlin, Germany. (Like Australia’s own version of an enormous, “million-dollar” gold coin, the Big Maple Leaf is loaned out to travel the world so that people can see and admire it. Plus, it’s a great marketing ploy for the mints to show off their refining capabilities.)
Somehow, authorities in Germany believe that thieves broke into the museum through a window in the early hours of the morning and managed to not only remove the coin from its cabinet—which would seem to be a huge oversight in security—but also escaped the scene of the crime before police could respond to the break-in. Considering the cabinet encasing the coin was made of bullet-proof glass, one wonders how a thief or group of thieves were able to breach the glass. On top of all that, it’s puzzling how such a large gold coin would be “liquidated.” That’s a lot of gold to melt down, and releasing it to the market over a short period of time would undoubtedly tip off investigators.
We all sincerely hope that the Big Maple Leaf makes it back into the proper hands, although this seems somewhat unlikely given the apparent sophistication of the culprits. At minimum, when a museum is in custody of a gold coin worth several million bucks, they might want to take extra precautions in the event that such a brazen crime is attempted!
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