Who Stole ‘The Big Maple Leaf,’ the Biggest Coin in the World?

And you thought carrying loosen change in your pouch was a nuisance … Imagine hauling a 220-pound giant amber mint out a window, depressed a ladder, across the train tracks and into a getaway car. It may seem like an bizarre proposal, but that ’ s precisely what a group of thieves decided to do in March when they set their sights on the “ Big Maple Leaf, ” a 99.999 percentage pure gold mint over an edge thickly and 20 inches in diameter that was on display at the Bode Museum in Berlin. They succeeded. While four men were finally arrested, the coin was never found, presumed to have slipped out of the fingers of the authorities after it was melted down and the gold sold off. The floor behind this big musket ball of bling begins back in 2007, when the Royal Canadian Mint was gearing up to release their latest series of bouillon coins.

The mint had achieved a milestone in the diligence. They had developed the proficiency to create coins that were 99.999 percentage saturated, or “ five-nines ” in mint-speak. The last time the Canadians had reached such a milestone was in 1982, when they produced aureate that was 99.99 percentage pure. The mint of bullion around the populace is a competitive plot, with each organization striving to be the identical best when it comes to producing gold. Each batch releases the product of their labors in the phase of bullion coins stamped with their own personalized theme—the Philharmonic for Austria, the american Eagle in the U.S., and the australian Kangaroo for Perth. The Royal Canadian Mint was excited to release their latest 1 ounce Gold Maple Leaf coins and blow their competitors out of the water in terms of purity. But in holy order to debut such a glitter accomplishment, they needed a shape of ad that would have an equal belly laugh factor—they needed a show-stopper. What better manner to announce a amber coin of the highest honor in the worldly concern than by blowing it up into a massive, 3,215-ounce hearty gold curiosity. Or, as the Royal canadian Mint put it, they created the Big Maple Leaf, “ Because we can. ” The leave showed off the mint ’ mho feats of mastermind. After the designs for each side—a portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II draw by canadian artist Susanna Blunt on the front and a giant maple flick on the reverse—were computerize and turned into a cast mold, molten gold that had reached over 2000-degrees Fahrenheit was poured into it at a sweetheart rate to make a elephantine gold mint with the least imperfections potential. The final merchandise was hand polished over and over again and the designs touched up by craftsmen to create the glazed resultant role they referred to as the million-dollar coin after its font value. “ We created this mint as a one-off, ” Alexandre Reeves, senior adviser of external communications at the Royal Canadian Mint, tells The Daily Beast. “ It was meant to promote the line of one-ounce, five-nines pure gold bullion coins. But when we unveiled the million dollar mint, interest buyers came forward and they said, ‘ Well I ’ d like to have one of these coins for myself. ’ ” In the end, the Royal Canadian Mint created six of these whoppers, the original of which they kept while the early five were sold to buyers ( by and large anonymous ) around the worldly concern. The Big Maple Leaf, as it came to be known, received one extra differentiation : In 2007, it was named the largest coin in the worldly concern by the Guinness World Records. ( The Perth Mint has since taken the size title, although Canada still reigns when it comes to honor. ) After WWI, money in all of its forms became so permeant that there are future to zero opportunities for newer vintages, so to speak, to become rare and valuable collectables. bullion entered this landscape and, while much showing off technical alloy craft, became chiefly acquired as an investment, a fancy alternative to a cake of amber. As Cristiano Bierrenbach, executive frailty president of the united states of International Numismatics at Heritage Auction House puts it, “ [ The Big Maple Leaf ] has no particular significance, numismatic significance, or collector ’ mho meaning. For us, it ’ s merely a boastful collocate of gold. ” Despite being valuable by and large for its material—and it was quite valuable, clocking in at around $ 4 million in market worth—one of the five sold took up mansion in the Bode Museum in Berlin in December 2010 on loan.

The Bode Museum is known for its numismatic collection, which contains over half a million pieces that are displayed in a rotating selection in four cabinets on the second floor of the build. While the Big Maple Leaf may not have been closely vitamin a precious as an ancient greek coin, it was still a big draw at the museum, particularly among the younger crowd. A group of thieves from Berlin besides set their sights on the museum. They concocted a plan to get their hands on the amber in what was widely described as an “ antique burglarize. ” In the early hours of the dawn on March 27, during the two-and-a-half hour windowpane in which the S-Bahn educate went to bed each night, the men climbed the elevated train tracks behind the museum. They placed a ladder on the tracks reaching up to the third deck windowpane of the museum, climbed into the build up, and made their manner to the numismatic department. There, they smashed through the bullet-proof glass protecting the Big Maple Leaf with what was most likely a sledgehammer hammer ( take that, guns ), and grabbed their goodly choice. They then reversed their route, lugging the 220-pound coin along the way. “ once outside the museum, the thieves used a wheelbarrow to push their boodle 100 meters down the tracks and across a bridge over the river to nearby Monbijou Park, where they dropped and most likely damaged the coin while abseiling to the grind, ” The Guardian reported. The Big Maple Leaf had been specifically targeted—nothing else in that case or in the stay of the collection was touched and the entire burglarize was pulled off without tripping a single security dismay. about four months belated, investigators arrested four suspects in the event, but the coin was never found, to no surprise of the authorities, who by believed that it had already been melted down. “ The trick used by such criminals is that they add, for case, a little spot of copper to the molten gold in order to change the honor levels and cover their tracks, ” one investigator told Die Welt. The larceny was a huge loss for the unidentified owner— The New York Times reported that it was worth round $ 4.5 million on the commercialize at the time of its fade. But, while the value of the loss was significant, it was largely a fiscal dishonor preferably than an artistic one. “ It would have been much unlike if… they had stolen a year one shekel of the Jewish War and they melted that for $ 8 of silver and that coin is a million dollar mint. That would have been a calamity, ” Bierrenbach says. “ This mint, from the collector position, from the numismatic position, and the historical position, it ’ randomness meaningless. It ’ s the same as [ if ] person just stole a crowd of aureate bars. ”

The Royal Canadian Mint doesn ’ thymine wholly disagree. While Reeves says this larceny was a shame, “ at the end of the day it wasn ’ t our mint. ” “ Although one coin seems to have been lost, we ’ re happy that we have other customers enjoying their own masterpieces and we ’ rhenium very gallant to have our own masterpiece to showcase, ” Reeves says. “ And that mint is dependable and secure… and will remain so. ”

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