Qatari royal jewels stolen at Venice exhibition after display case ‘opened like a tin can’.
Thieves made off with several Indian treasures owned by a member of the Qatari royal family after a heist in Venice, police have said.
Two thieves got away with earrings and a brooch on the final day of a four-month exhibition at the Doge’s Palace which showcased 270 items spanning five centuries of Indian craftsmanship.
The stolen items, part of the Treasures of the Mughals and the Maharajahs exhibition, were not among the highlights on display. However, police said they were made of gold, platinum and diamonds and news reports estimated they were worth millions of euro.
Investigators said the thieves managed to take the items from a reinforced display case early Wednesday morning after deactivating the alarm system, then melted into the crowd and escaped. The alarm was raised several hours later.
“We are clearly dealing here with two skilled professionals who managed to pull off their feat despite all the display rooms being fitted with technologically highly sophisticated [alarm] systems,” said the chief police commissioner, Vito Gagliardi.
The Al Thani Collection features Indian and Indian-inspired jewellery and precious stones, spanning 400 years from the Mughal period to the present. It was assembled by Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al Thani and now belongs to Qatar’s ruling family.
The exhibition was due to close on Wednesday, the latest stop in a tour that brought the collection to the Grand Palais in Paris, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Metropolitan in New York and the Miho Museum near Kyoto, Japan.
A spokesman for the collection, John Maxse, said it was in contact with Italian authorities and the Foundation of Civic Museums, which runs the palace.
In a statement, the foundation said the items were “contemporary pieces and consequently are of less historical value than other items in the collection”.
Venice police said the items were unique meaning they would be nearly impossible to sell on the market