New York Times
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 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.
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.
Experts said it would be difficult to sell the stolen coin, but worried that it could be melted down and the gold resold on the open market.
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. But Alex Reeves, 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.