29 Aug

source :  wikipedia.com

*This is an incomplete list of notable treasures that are currently lost or missing*


Ark  of  the  Covenant (586 B.C)

nch2The Ark of the Covenant, also known as the Ark of the Testimony, is a chest described in the Book of Exodus as containing the Tablets of Stone on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed. According to some traditional interpretations of the Book of Exodus, Book of Numbers, and the Letter to the Hebrews the Ark also contained Aaron’s rod, a jar of manna and the first Torah scroll as written by Moses; however, the first of the Books of Kings says that at the time of King Solomon, the Ark contained only the two Tablets of the Law. According to the Book of Exodus, the Ark was built at the command of God, in accordance with the instructions given to Moses on Mount Sinai.
God was said to have communicated with Moses “from between the two cherubim” on the Ark’s cover.

The biblical account relates that during the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, the Ark was carried by the priests some 2,000 cubits in advance of the people and their army, or host. When the Ark was borne by priests into the bed of the Jordan, water in the river separated, opening a pathway for the entire host to pass through (Josh. 3:15-16; 4:7-18). The city of Jericho was taken with no more than a shout after the Ark of the Covenant was paraded for seven days around its wall by seven priests sounding seven trumpets of rams’ horns (Josh. 6:4-20). When carried, the Ark was always wrapped in a veil, in skins and a blue cloth, and was carefully concealed, even from the eyes of the priests who carried it. There are no contemporary extra-biblical references to the Ark.

In the Roman Catholic Church, the Blessed Virgin Mary is sometimes allegorically referred to as the Ark of the Covenant, in that she bore Jesus Christ in similarity to the original tangible contents of the Ark, as cited in the Book of Revelations and the Litany of Loreto.

–   Ark of the Covenant –   Gold plated vessel, 2½ × 1½ × 1½ cubits (as 2 1/2×1 1/2×1 1/2 royal cubits or 1.31×0.79×0.79 m). Historicity disputed.

*   Since its disappearance from the Biblical narrative, there have been a number of claims of having discovered or of having possession of the Ark, and several possible places have been suggested for its location :

Mount Nebo


Southern  Africa

– Chartres Cathedral, France
– Rennes-le-Château, then to America
– Rome
– United Kingdom
– Ireland

– Tutankhamun’s tomb


Copper Scroll treasures (circa 25–75)

The Copper Scroll (3Q15) is one of the Dead Sea Scrolls found in Cave 3 near Khirbet Qumran, but differs significantly from the others. Whereas the other scrolls are written on parchment or papyrus, this scroll is written on metal: copper mixed with about 1 percent tin. Unlike the others, it is not a literary work, but a list of locations at which various items of gold and silver are buried or hidden. It differs from the other scrolls in its Hebrew (closer to the language of the Mishnah than to the literary Hebrew of the other scrolls, though 4QMMT shares some language characteristics), its orthography (i.e., its spelling), palaeography (forms of letters) and date (c.50-100 AD, possibly overlapping the latest of the other Qumran manuscripts).

Parts of The Copper Scroll are housed at the Jordan Museum in Amman.

–   The text is an inventory of 64 locations; 63 of which are treasures of gold and silver, which have been estimated in the tons. Tithing vessels are also listed among the entries, along with other vessels, and three locations featured scrolls. One entry apparently mentions priestly vestments. The final listing points to a duplicate document with additional details. That other document has not been found.

The following English translation of the opening lines of the first column of the Copper Scroll shows the basic structure of each of the entries in the scroll. The structure is 1) general location, 2) specific location, often with distance to dig, and 3) what to find.

1:1 In the ruin that is in the valley of Acor, under
1:2 the steps, with the entrance at the East,
1:3 a distance of forty cubits: a strongbox of silver and its vessels
1:4 with a weight of seventeen talents. KeN

(The three letters at the end are Greek.)

There is a minority view that the Cave of Letters might have contained one of the listed treasures, and, if so, artifacts from this location may have been recovered. Although the scroll was made of alloyed copper in order to last, the locations are written as if the reader would have an intimate knowledge of obscure references. For example, consider column two, verses 1-3, “In the salt pit that is under the steps: forty-one talents of silver. In the cave of the old washer’s chamber, on the third terrace: sixty-five ingots of gold.” As noted above, the listed treasure has been estimated in the tons. There are those who understand the text to be enumerating the vast treasure that was ‘stashed,’ where the Romans could not find it. Others still suggest that the listed treasure is that which Bar Kochba hid during the Second Revolt. Although it is difficult to estimate the exact amount, “it was estimated in 1960 that the total would top $1,000,000 U.S”


Kusanagi (1185)

Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi is a legendary Japanese sword and one of three Imperial Regalia of Japan. It was originally called Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi (“Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven”) but its name was later changed to the more popular Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (“Grass Cutting Sword”).

Legends and Folklore

*     The history of the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi extends into legend. According to Kojiki, the god Susanoo encountered a grieving family of kunitsukami (“gods of the land”) headed by Ashinazuchi in Izumo province. When Susanoo inquired of Ashinazuchi, he told him that his family was being ravaged by the fearsome Yamata-no-Orochi, an eight-headed serpent of Koshi, who had consumed seven of the family’s eight daughters and that the creature was coming for his final daughter, Kushinada-hime. Susanoo investigated the creature, and after an abortive encounter he returned with a plan to defeat it. In return, he asked for Kushinada-hime’s hand in marriage, which was agreed. Transforming her temporarily into a comb (one interpreter reads this section as “using a comb he turns into [masquerades as] Kushinada-hime”) to have her company during battle, he detailed his plan into steps.
He instructed the preparation of eight vats of sake (rice wine) to be put on individual platforms positioned behind a fence with eight gates. The monster took the bait and put one of its heads through each gate. With this distraction, Susanoo attacked and slew the beast (with his sword Worochi no Ara-masa). He chopped off each head and then proceeded to the tails. In the fourth tail, he discovered a great sword inside the body of the serpent which he called Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi, which he presented to the goddess Amaterasu to settle an old grievance.

Generations later, in the reign of the Twelfth Emperor, Keiko, Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi was given to the great warrior, Yamato Takeru as part of a pair of gifts given by his aunt, Yamato-hime the Shrine Maiden of Ise Shrine, to protect her nephew in times of peril.
These gifts came in handy when Yamato Takeru was lured onto an open grassland during a hunting expedition by a treacherous warlord. The lord had fiery arrows fired to ignite the grass and trap Yamato Takeru in the field so that he would burn to death. He also killed the warrior’s horse to prevent his escape. Desperately, Yamato Takeru used the Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi to cut back the grass and remove fuel from the fire, but in doing so, he discovered that the sword enabled him to control the wind and cause it to move in the direction of his swing. Taking advantage of this magic, Yamato Takeru used his other gift, fire strikers, to enlarge the fire in the direction of the lord and his men, and he used the winds controlled by the sword to sweep the blaze toward them. In triumph, Yamato Takeru renamed the sword Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (lit. “Grasscutter Sword”) to commemorate his narrow escape and victory. Eventually, Yamato Takeru married and later fell in battle with a monster, after ignoring his wife’s advice to take the sword with him.

*     Although the sword is mentioned in the Kojiki, this book is a collection of Japanese myths and is not considered a historical document. The first reliable historical mention of the sword is in the Nihonshoki. Although the Nihonshoki also contains mythological stories that are not considered reliable history, it records some events that were contemporary or nearly contemporary to its writing, and these sections of the book are considered historical. In the Nihonshoki, the Kusanagi was removed from the Imperial palace in 688, and moved to Atsuta Shrine after the sword was blamed for causing Emperor Temmu to fall ill. Along with the jewel (Yasakani no Magatama) and the mirror (Yata no Kagami ), it is one of the three Imperial Regalia of Japan, the sword representing the virtue of valor.

Kusanagi is allegedly kept at Atsuta Shrine but is not available for public display, and its existence cannot be confirmed. During the Edo period, a Shinto priest, claimed to have seen the sword. According to him, the sword was about 84 cm long, shaped like calamus, fashioned in a white metallic color, and well maintained. Another record claims that this priest died from the curse and the power of the sword, but this is most likely a story that was spread to emphasize its power. Recently, Japan’s nationally run broadcasting station, NHK, went to Atsuta Shrine to videotape the sword but were turned away.

*     In The Tale of the Heike, a collection of oral stories transcribed in 1371, the sword is lost at sea after the defeat of the Heike clan in the Battle of Dan-no-ura, a naval battle that ended in the defeat of the Heike clan forces and the child Emperor Antoku at the hands of Minamoto no Yoshitsune. In the tale, upon hearing of the Navy’s defeat, the Emperor’s grandmother led the Emperor and his entourage to commit suicide by drowning in the waters of the strait, taking with her two of the three Imperial Regalia: the sacred jewel and the sword Kusanagi. The sacred mirror was recovered in extremis when one of the ladies-in-waiting was about to jump with it into the sea Although the sacred jewel is said to have been found in its casket floating on the waves, Kusanagi was lost forever. Although written about historical events, The Tale of the Heike is a collection of epic poetry passed down orally and written down nearly 200 years after the actual events, so its reliability as a historical document is questionable.

*     Another story holds that the sword was reportedly stolen again in the sixth century by a monk from Silla. However, his ship allegedly sank at sea, allowing the sword to wash ashore at Ise, where it was recovered by Shinto priests.

Due to the refusal of Shinto priests to show the sword, and the rather sketchy nature of its historical references, the current state of or even the existence at all of the sword as a historical artifact cannot be confirmed. The last appearance of the sword was in 1989 when Emperor Akihito ascended to the throne, the sword (including the jewel and the Emperor’s two seals) were shrouded in packages.


Dracula’s  Treasure (1462–1476)

Treasure vault of Snagov monastery lost when Vlad Dracula’s brother Radu took it in 1462, when Turks took it in 1463, or after Vlad’s death in 1476. Buried, tossed in lake, or transferred elsewhere.


La Noche Triste treasure (1520)

Gold artwork looted from the palace of Moctezuma II. Occurred during the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire.


Polish Crown Jewels (1795)

jebtThe only surviving original piece of the Polish Crown Jewels from the time of the Piast dynasty is the ceremonial sword – Szczerbiec. It is currently on display along with other preserved royal items in the Wawel Royal Castle Museum, Kraków.

Several royal crowns were made, including several during the 16th Century, a “Hungarian Crown”, a “Swedish Crown” used by the Vasa kings, and others that were subsequently lost or destroyed. The crown jewels used by the Saxon kings, and some remainders of older Polish monarchs which were appropriated by king August II, also the Elector of Saxony; like a cup of Queen Jadwiga so-called roztruchan, and the magnificent scale armour, so-called karacena, of King Jan III Sobieski are today on display in the Grünes Gewolbe and the Rüstkammer in Dresden, Germany.

–  According to an inventory of the State Treasury at the Wawel performed in 1633 by the Jerzy Ossolinski, Great Crown Chancellor the Crown Regalia (Jewels) of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (kept in 5 chests) consists of:

the Crown of Boleslaw I the Brave, according to a legend handed over to the first Polish monarch by Emperor Otto III, made for Wladyslaw I the Elbow-high

the so-called “Queens Crown” made for Jadwiga of Kalisz

the so-called “Hungarian Crown” made for John II Sigismund Zápolya according to Crown of Saint Stephen

the so-called “Homagial Crown” for receiving homages, made for Wladyslaw II Jagiello

the so-called “Funebralis Crown” intended for funeral ceremonies of the Polish monarchs, made for Stephen Báthory

three sceptres and three silver orbs

a silver chain with the relic of the holy cross (Crux cum ligno Vitae)

the Ruthenian crosses and relics

Latin Bible copied on parchment

rhinoceros horn (Cornus Rynocerotis)

Szczerbiec, the coronation sword that was used in crowning ceremonies of most kings of Poland

Grunwald Swords, two Teutonic Order swords received at the Battle of Grunwald by King Wladyslaw Jagiello

the sword of Boleslaw the Bold

the sword of Sigismund I the Old

three hats fringed with pearls

a large chest with jewel boxes, which contained a large ruby, a 0.94 carats (190 mg) diamond, 200 diamonds, a large emerald, among others.

Also a private treasury of the Vasas (kept at the Royal Castle in Warsaw) consisted of:

the “Swedish Crown” made for King Sigismund II Augustus

the “Muscovy Crown” made in about 1610 for Prince Wladyslaw Vasa’s coronation as a Tsar of Russia

a silver White Eagle heraldic base for the royal crown (pure silver, partly gilded, 89 cm heigh); the eagle was created for King John II Casimir in Augsburg by Abraham Drentwett and Heinrich Mannlich in about 1666; presented in the times of a military weakness of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth after the Deluge and lost war against the Ottoman Empire to Tsar of Russia by King Michael Korybut.

In 1697 a Freiburg’s goldsmith Johann Friedrich Klemm executed a replacement for the Polish Crown Jewels, known as the Crown of Augustus II the Strong and intended for his coronation as a King of Poland. It was never used however, because of two monks, who broke into the State Treasury the Wawel Castle and stole the original regalia.
The Augustus II’s crown is kept in the Dresden Armory.
All of the original crown regalia were looted by the Germans (except for the “Muscovy Crown”) in 1795 after the Third Partition of the Commonwealth and destroyed on the order of Frederick William III of Prussia in March 1809 (except for the Szczerbiec).
In 1925 Polish Government purchased the silver regalia of King Augustus III and Queen Maria Josepha in Vienna for $ 35,000 (175 000 zl). It consisted of 2 crowns, 2 sceptres and 2 orbs made in about 1733. The original Crown Regalia were hidden by Franciszek Maksymilian Ossolinski during the War of the Polish Succession. The jewels were exhibited in Warsaw till 1939 and in 1940 they were stolen by German forces. Later they were found by the Soviet troops in Germany and sent to the USSR where they remained until 1960, when they were returned to Poland. Today are deposited in the National Museum in Warsaw.


Treasure of Lima (1820)

Gold, silver and jewellery stolen from the Spanish in 1820. The treasure is thought to be buried on Cocos Island in Costa Rica and it is estimated to be worth £160 million.


Benito’s treasure (1821)

Benito “Bloody Sword” Bonito is the subject of a legend about a pirate who raided the west coast of the Americas. His career began around 1818 (supposedly because he could not sing) but from there on sources differ. According to one legend his ship was boarded by a British man-o’-war after Bonito exited Port Phillip Bay after hiding the so called “Lost Loot of Lima” sometime in 1821. He was given a drumhead trial and hanged.
Another version of Benito’s legend ends with Benito committing suicide by putting his pistol to his head rather than allowing himself to be captured by British pirate hunters. Yet another states that Benito was betrayed by two British crewmen he had taken on previously.

These legends of Bonito Benito are sometimes confused with those of the “Great Treasure of Lima” given over to captain William Thompson to guard at sea from José de San Martín, a treasure Thompson made off with and hid on Cocos Island. According to some accounts, both treasures are buried on Cocos Island.

–  According to legend the “captain’s cut” of Benito’s treasure, valued at over $300 million today, is still hidden somewhere on or around Queenscliff, Victoria.

Popular Australian legends relate that Benito hid his treasure in a cave near Queenscliff, Victoria (Australia) which was sealed by explosives and a later earthquake. Many excavations have taken place in the region without the treasure being uncovered.


Confederate gold (circa 1865)

Confederate gold refers to the hidden caches of gold lost after the American Civil War. Millions of dollars worth of gold was lost or unaccounted for after the civil war and has been the speculation of many historians and treasure hunters. Allegedly, some of the Confederate treasury was hidden in order to wait for the rising again of the South and at other times simply so that the Union would not gain possession.

George Trenholm, who was Treasurer of the Confederate States of America for the last year of the American Civil War, was arrested after the war and accused of making off with millions in Confederate assets.


Tokugawa’s buried treasure (circa 1868)

A legendary treasure allegedly buried in Mt. Akagi by Tokugawa shogunate (disputed).


Irish Crown Jewels (1907)

The Irish Crown Jewels were the heavily-jewelled star and badge regalia of the Sovereign and Grand Master of the Order of St. Patrick. They were stolen from Dublin Castle in 1907 along with the collars of five knights of the Order. The theft was never solved and the jewels never recovered.

The Order of St. Patrick was an order of knights established in 1783 by George III as King of Ireland to be an Irish equivalent of the English Order of the Garter and the Scottish Order of the Thistle. The British monarch, as monarch first of Ireland and later of the United Kingdom, was the Sovereign of the Order; and the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was the Grand Master in the absence of the Sovereign. The insignia were worn by the Sovereign at the investiture of new Knights as members of the Order, and by the Grand Master on other formal ceremonial occasions.
The original regalia of the Sovereign were only slightly more opulent than the insignia of an ordinary Knight Member of the Order. These were replaced in 1831 by new ones presented by William IV as part of a revision of the Order’s structure, and containing 394 precious stones taken from the English Crown Jewels of Queen Charlotte and the Order of the Bath star of her husband George III. On the badge of Saint Patrick’s blue enamel, the green shamrock was of emeralds and the red Saint Patrick’s Saltire of rubies; the motto of the Order was in pink diamonds and the encrustation was of Brazilian diamonds of the first water. Notices issued after the theft described the jewels thus :

–    A Diamond Star of the Grand Master of the Order of St. Patrick composed of brilliants (Brazilian stones) of the purest water, 4?? by 4?¼ inches, consisting of eight points, four greater and four lesser, issuing from a centre enclosing a cross of rubies and a trefoil of emeralds surrounding a sky blue enamel circle with words, “Quis Separabit MDCCLXXXIII.” in rose diamonds engraved on back. Value about £14,000.

A Diamond Badge of the Grand Master of the Order of St. Patrick set in silver containing a trefoil in emeralds on a ruby cross surrounded by a sky blue enamelled circle with “Quis Separabit MDCCLXXXIII.” in rose diamonds surrounded by a wreath of trefoils in emeralds, the whole enclosed by a circle of large single Brazilian stones of the finest water, surmounted by a crowned harp in diamonds and loop, also in Brazilian stones. Total size of oval 3 by 2?? inches; height 5?? inches. Value £16,000.

When not being worn or cleaned, the insignia of the Sovereign and those of deceased Knights were in the custody of the Ulster King of Arms, the senior Irish officer of arms, and kept in a bank vault. The designation “Crown Jewels” was first applied to the star and badge regalia of the Sovereign in a 1905 revision of the Order’s statutes. The label “Irish Crown Jewels” was publicised by newspapers after their theft.

*     In 1903, the jewels were transferred to a safe, which was to be placed in the newly constructed strongroom in Dublin Castle beside the Ulster King of Arms’ office. The new safe was too large for the doorway to the strongroom, and Arthur Vicars, the Ulster King of Arms, instead stored it in his office. Seven latch keys to the door of the Office of Arms were held by Vicars and his staff, and two keys to the safe containing the insignia were both in the custody of Vicars. Vicars was known to regularly get drunk on overnight duty and he once awoke to find the jewels around his neck. It is not known whether or not this was a prank or a practice for the actual theft.
The insignia were last worn by the Lord Lieutenant, Lord Aberdeen, on 15 March 1907, at a function to mark Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17. They were last known to be in the safe on 11 June, when Vicars showed them to a visitor to his office. The jewels were discovered missing on 6 July 1907, four days before the start of a visit to the Irish International Exhibition by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, at which was planned the investiture of Bernard FitzPatrick, 2nd Baron Castletown into the Order. The theft is reported to have angered the King, but the visit went ahead. However, the investiture ceremony was cancelled. Also stolen were the collars of five Knight Members of the Order: four living (the Marquess of Ormonde and Earls of Howth, of Enniskillen, and of Mayo) and one deceased (Richard Boyle, 9th Earl of Cork). These were valued at £1,050.

A police investigation was conducted by the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP). Posters issued by the DMP depicted and described the missing jewels. Detective Chief Inspector John Kane of Scotland Yard arrived on 12 July to assist. His report, never released, is said to have named the culprit and been suppressed by the RIC. Vicars refused to resign his position, and similarly refused to appear at a Viceregal Commission into the theft held from 10 January 1908. Vicars argued for a public Royal Commission instead, which would have had power to subpoena witnesses. He publicly accused his second in command, Francis Shackleton, of the theft. Kane explicitly denied to the Commission that Shackleton, brother of the explorer Ernest Shackleton, was involved. Shackleton was exonerated in the Commission’s report, and Vicars was found to have “not exercise[d] due vigilance or proper care as the custodian of the regalia.” Vicars was compelled to resign, as were all the staff in his personal employ.

Rumours and theories

*     Various theories circulated in the aftermath of the theft, with Irish nationalists alleging homosexual orgies among the staff at Dublin Castle. In the House of Commons in August 1907, Patrick O’Brien blamed “loyal and patriotic Unionist criminals”, Lord Haddo, the son of the Lord Lieutenant, was alleged by some newspapers to have been involved in the theft; Augustine Birrell, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, stated in the Commons that Haddo had been in Great Britain throughout the time period within which the theft took place. In 1912 and 1913 Laurence Ginnell suggested that the police investigation had established the identity of the thief, that his report had been suppressed to avoid scandal, and that the jewels were “at present within the reach of the Irish Government awaiting the invention of some plausible method of restoring them without getting entangled in the Criminal Law”.In an adjournment debate in 1912 he alleged :

”    The police charged with collecting evidence in connection with the disappearance of the Crown jewels from Dublin Castle in 1907 collected evidence inseparable from it of criminal debauchery and sodomy being committed in the castle by officials, Army officers, and a couple of nondescripts of such position that their conviction and exposure would have led to an upheaval from which the Chief Secretary shrank. In order to prevent that he suspended the operation of the Criminal Law, and appointed a whitewashing commission with the result for which it was appointed.   “

His speech was curtailed when a quorum of 40 MPs was not present in the chamber. Walter Vavasour Faber also asked about a cover-up; Edward Legge supported this theory.
After Francis Shackleton was imprisoned in 1914 for passing a cheque stolen from a widow, Earl Winterton asked for the judicial inquiry demanded by Vicars.

On 23 November 1912, the Daily Mail alleged that Vicars had allowed a woman reported to be his mistress to obtain a copy to the key to the safe and that she had fled to Paris with the jewels. In July 1913 Vicars sued the paper for libel; it admitted that the story was completely baseless and that the woman in question did not exist; Vicars was awarded damages of £5,000. Vicars left nothing in his will to his half-brother Pierce Charles de Lacy O’Mahony, on the grounds that Mahony had repudiated a promise to recompense Vicars for the loss of income caused by his resignation.

Another theory was that the Irish Republican Brotherhood had smuggled the jewels to the United States.
A 1927 memo of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State, released in the 1970s, stated that W. T. Cosgrave “understands that the Castle jewels are for sale and that they could be got for £2,000 or £3,000.”

A 2002 book suggests the jewels were stolen as a Unionist plot to embarrass the Liberal government, and later secretly returned to the Royal Family.


Eight lost Imperial Fabergé eggs (1922 or later)

    1886 – The Hen with Sapphire Pendant egg
1888 – The Cherub with Chariot egg
1889 – The Nécessaire egg
1896 – The Alexander III Portraits egg
1897 – The Mauve egg
1902 – The Empire Nephrite egg
1903 – The Royal Danish egg
1909 – The Alexander III Commemorative egg

The Fabergé eggs are one of a limited number of jeweled eggs created by Peter Carl Fabergé and his company from 1885 to 1917. The most famous of the eggs are the ones made for the Russian Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II as Easter gifts for their wives and mothers; these are often referred to as the ‘Imperial’ Fabergé eggs. Approximately 50 eggs were made, and 42 have survived. Another two eggs were planned for Easter 1918, but not delivered due to the Russian Revolution.

Following the Russian Revoluton, the Fabergé family left Russia. The Fabergé trademark has been sold several times since, and several companies have subsequently retailed egg-related merchandise using the Fabergé name. The trademark is currently owned by Fabergé Limited, which makes egg-themed jewellery.


The Just Judges (1934)

The Just Judges or The Righteous Judges is the lower left panel of the Ghent Altarpiece, by Jan Van Eyck or his brother Hubert Van Eyck, (145 × 51 cm) oil on oak.

As part of the Ghent altarpiece, it was displayed at the Saint Bavo Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium, until stolen during the night of 10 April 1934, possibly by the Belgian Arsène Goedertier (Lede, 23 December 1876 – Dendermonde, 25 November 1934).
The panel was removed from the frame, apparently with care, leaving the other panels undamaged. In the empty space was left a note, written in French, with the words, “Taken from Germany by the Treaty of Versaile”, a reference to the fact that the altarpiece had been returned to the Ghent only a decade earlier after having been moved to Berlin during World War I. On 30 April, the Bishop of Ghent received a ransom demand for one million Belgian francs, to which the Belgium minister refused to agree. A second letter was delivered in May and at the time the Belgium government took on the negotiations with the thief on the pretext that as national treasures, the diocese ownership was secondary to the nation. Correspondence continued through October between the thief and the government, with the exchange of at least 11 letters.

On 25 November 1934 the thief revealed on his deathbed that he was the only one who knew where the masterpiece was hidden, and that he would take the secret to his grave. Although several people have claimed to know its whereabouts, the painting has never been recovered and is now believed to be destroyed. The panel was replaced in 1945 by a copy by Belgian copyist Jef Vanderveken.

It is believed the panel showed portraits of several contemporary figures such as Philip the Good, and the artists themselves with Hubert van Eyck and Jan van Eyck both possibly shown in the now lost panel.

The panel is a prominent symbol in the novel The Fall (1956) by Albert Camus. Its protagonist, Jean-Baptiste Clamence, claims to have found the painting in a bar called “Mexico City”, and his secret withholding of the painting empowers him, he feels, in his newfound role of “judge-penitent”.


Royal Casket (1939)

The Royal Casket was a memorial created in 1800 by Izabela Czartoryska. The large wooden casket contained 73 precious relics that had once belonged to Polish royalty. The casket was inscribed: “Polish mementos assembled in 1800 by Izabela Czartoryska.” It once reposed in the Temple of the Sibyl at Pulawy.

–  The relics contained in the casket included:

Portrait of Queen Constance of Austria in a silver dress made by King Sigismund III Vasa,

Silver rosary of Queen Marie Leszczynska,

Ivory box in a silver gilded frame of King John III Sobieski,

Gold watch of Queen Marie Casimire,

Gold snuff-box decorated with diamonds and an enamel miniature of King Stanislaw August Poniatowski,

Gold watch of King Augustus II,

Gold enameled chain of King John II Casimir,

Pectoral cross of King Sigismund the Old, made of red jasper in a gold frame with a gold chain,

Silver filigree cutlery of Prince Zygmunt Kazimierz,

Crystal watch in a gold frame of King Sigismund III Vasa,

Gold watch of King Stanislaw Leszczynski,

Gold enameled pendant with “A” monogram and a gold chain of Anna Jagiellon,

Gold filigree chain of Queen Ludwika Maria Gonzaga etc.

The casket survived all the confiscations after the collapses of the Polish national uprisings, because it had been moved to Krakow.

When World War II broke out, it was transported together with the rich collection of the Czartoryski Museum to Sieniawa and hidden in a repository, in a palace outbuilding, which was later bricked up. However, the German owner of a mill who worked for the Czartoryski family betrayed the hiding place to Wehrmacht soldiers, who entered Sieniawa on 14 September 1939. The soldiers broke into the palace and plundered the collection. They robbed the Royal Casket and distributed its contents among themselves. All the precious items were probably destroyed.


Peking Man (1941–1945)

Peking Man, Homo erectus pekinensis, is an example of Homo erectus. A group of fossil specimens was discovered in 1923–27 during excavations at Zhoukoudian (Chou K’ou-tien) near Beijing (written “Peking” before the adoption of the Pinyin romanization system), China. More recently, the finds have been dated from roughly 750,000 years ago, and a new 26Al/10Be dating suggests they are in the range of 680,000–780,000 years old.
Between 1929 and 1937, 15 partial crania, 11 mandibles, many teeth, some skeletal bones and large numbers of stone tools were discovered in the Lower Cave at Locality 1 of the Peking Man site at Zhoukoudian, near Beijing, in China. Their age is estimated to be between 500,000 and 300,000 years old. (A number of fossils of modern humans were also discovered in the Upper Cave at the same site in 1933.) The most complete fossils, all of which were calvariae, are :

–   Skull II, discovered at Locus D in 1929 but only recognized in 1930, is an adult or adolescent with a brain size of 1030 cc. Skull II.jpg

Skull III, discovered at Locus E in 1929 is an adolescent or juvenile with a brain size of 915 cc. Skull III.jpg

Skulls X, XI and XII (sometimes called LI, LII and LIII) were discovered at Locus L in 1936. They are thought to belong to an adult man, an adult woman and a young adult, with brain sizes of 1225 cc, 1015 cc and 1030 cc respectively. Skull X.jpg Skull XI.jpg Skull XII.jpg

Skull V: two cranial fragments were discovered in 1966 which fit with (casts of) two other fragments found in 1934 and 1936 to form much of a skullcap with a brain size of 1140 cc. These pieces were found at a higher level, and appear to be more modern than the other skullcaps. Skull V.jpg

Most of the study on these fossils was done by Davidson Black until his death in 1934. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin took over until Franz Weidenreich replaced him and studied the fossils until he left China in 1941.

*     The original fossils disappeared in 1941 during World War II, but excellent casts and descriptions remain.


Amber  Room (circa 1945)

Removed from Catherine Palace, Saint Petersburg, by Germans during World War II and transported to Germany. Estimated (adjusted) value: $142 million.


Yamashita’s  gold (circa 1945)

Yamashita’s gold, also referred to as the Yamashita treasure, is the name given to the alleged war loot stolen in Southeast Asia by Japanese forces during World War II and hidden in caves, tunnels and underground complexes in the Philippines. It is named for the Japanese general Tomoyuki Yamashita, nicknamed “The Tiger of Malaya”. Though accounts that the treasure remains hidden in Philippines have lured treasure hunters from around the world for over fifty years, its existence is dismissed by most experts. The rumored treasure has been the subject of a complex lawsuit that was filed in a Hawaiian state court in 1988 involving a Filipino treasure hunter, Rogelio Roxas, and the former Philippine president, Ferdinand Marcos.

*     Prominent among those arguing for the existence of Yamashita’s gold are Sterling Seagrave and Peggy Seagrave, who have written two books relating to the subject: The Yamato Dynasty: the Secret History of Japan’s Imperial Family (2000) and Gold Warriors: America’s Secret Recovery of Yamashita’s Gold (2003). The Seagraves contend that looting was organized on a massive scale, by both yakuza gangsters such as Yoshio Kodama, and the highest levels of Japanese society, including Emperor Hirohito. The Japanese government intended that loot from Southeast Asia would finance Japan’s war effort. The Seagraves allege that Hirohito appointed his brother, Prince Yasuhito Chichibu, to head a secret organization called Kin no yuri (“Golden Lily”), for this purpose. It is purported that many of those who knew the locations of the loot were killed during the war, or later tried by the Allies for war crimes and executed or incarcerated. Yamashita himself was (controversially) convicted of war crimes and executed by the U.S. Army on February 23, 1946.

The stolen property reportedly included many different kinds of valuables looted from banks, depositories, temples, churches, other commercial premises, mosques, museums and private homes. It takes its name from General Tomoyuki Yamashita, who assumed command of Japanese forces in the Philippines in 1944.
According to various accounts, the loot was initially concentrated in Singapore, and later transported to the Philippines. The Japanese hoped to ship the treasure from the Philippines to the Japanese Home Islands after the war ended. As the War in the Pacific progressed, U.S. Navy submarines and Allied warplanes inflicted increasingly heavy sinkings of Japanese merchant shipping. Some of the ships carrying the war booty back to Japan were sunk in combat.

The Seagraves and a few others have claimed that American military intelligence operatives located much of the loot; they colluded with Hirohito and other senior Japanese figures to conceal its existence, and they used it to finance American covert intelligence operations around the world during the Cold War. These rumors have inspired many hopeful treasure hunters, but most experts and Filipino historians say there is no credible evidence behind these claims.

In 1992, Imelda Marcos claimed that Yamashita’s gold accounted for the bulk of the wealth of her husband, Ferdinand Marcos.
Many individuals and consortia, both Philippine and foreign, continue to search for treasure sites. A number of accidental deaths, injuries and financial losses incurred by treasure hunters have been reported.
At present, the Mines & Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Natural Resources of the Philippines is the Filipino government agency that grants treasure permits.

*     University of the Philippines professor Rico Jose has questioned the theory that treasure from mainland South East Asia was transported to the Philippines: “By 1943 the Japanese were no longer in control of the seas… It doesn’t make sense to bring in something that valuable here when you know it’s going to be lost to the Americans anyway. The more rational thing would have been to send it to Taiwan or China.”
Philippines National Historical Institute chairman and historian Ambeth Ocampo commented: “Two of the wealth myths I usually encounter are the Yamashita treasure and gossip that the Cojuangco fortune was founded on a bag of money…” Ocampo also said: “For the past 50 years many people, both Filipinos and foreigners, have spent their time, money and energy in search of Yamashita’s elusive treasure.” Professor Ocampo noted “What makes me wonder is that for the past 50 years, despite all the treasure hunters, their maps, oral testimony and sophisticated metal detectors, nobody has found a thing.”

*     In March 1988, a Filipino treasure hunter named Rogelio Roxas filed a lawsuit in the state of Hawaii against the former president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda Marcos for theft and human rights abuses. Roxas claimed that in Baguio City in 1961 he met the son of a former member of the Japanese army who mapped for him the location of the legendary Yamashita Treasure. Roxas claimed a second man, who served as Yamashita’s interpreter during the Second World War, told him of visiting an underground chamber there where stores of gold and silver were kept, and who told of a golden buddha kept at a convent located near the underground chambers. Roxas claimed that within the next few years he formed a group to search for the treasure, and obtained a permit for the purpose from a relative of Ferdinand, Judge Pio Marcos. In 1971, Roxas claimed, he and his group uncovered an enclosed chamber on state lands near Baguio City where he found bayonets, samurai swords, radios, and skeletal remains dressed in a Japanese military uniform. Also found in the chamber, Roxas claimed, were a 3-foot-high (0.91 m) golden-colored Buddha and numerous stacked crates which filled an area approximately 6 feet x 6 feet x 35 feet. He claimed he opened just one of the boxes, and found it packed with gold bullion. He said he took from the chamber the golden Buddha, which he estimated to weigh 1,000 kilograms, and one box with twenty-four gold bars, and hid them in his home. He claimed he resealed the chamber for safekeeping until he could arrange the removal of the remaining boxes, which he suspected were also filled with gold bars. Roxas said he sold seven of the gold bars from the opened box, and sought potential buyers for the golden Buddha. Two individuals representing prospective buyers examined and tested the metal in the Buddha, Roxas said, and reported it was made of solid, 20-carat gold. It was soon after this, Roxas claimed, that President Ferdinand Marcos learned of Roxas’ discovery and ordered him arrested, beaten, and the Buddha and remaining gold seized. Roxas alleged that in retaliation to his vocal campaign to reclaim the Buddha and the remainder of the treasure taken from him, Ferdinand continued to have Roxas threatened, beaten and eventually incarcerated for over a year.

Following his release, Roxas put his claims against Marcos on hold until Ferdinand lost the presidency in 1986. But in 1988, Roxas and the Golden Budha Corporation, which now held the ownership rights to the treasure Roxas claims was stolen from him, filed suit against Ferdinand and wife Imelda in a Hawaiian state court seeking damages for the theft and the surrounding human rights abuses committed against Roxas. Roxas died on the eve of trial, but prior to his death he gave the deposition testimony that would be later used in evidence. In 1996, the Roxas estate and the Golden Budha Corporation received what was then largest judgment ever awarded in history, $22 billion which with interest increased to $40.5 billion. In 1998, The Hawaii Supreme Court held that there was sufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding that Roxas found the treasure and that Marcos converted it. However, the court reversed the damage award, holding that the $22 billion award of damages for the chamber full of gold was too speculative, as there was no evidence of quantity or quality, and ordered a new hearing on the value of the golden Buddha and 17 bars of gold only. After several more years of legal proceedings, the Golden Budha Corporation obtained a final judgment against Imelda Marcos to the extent of her interest in the Marcos estate in the principal amount of $13,275,848.37 and Roxas’ estate obtained a $6 million judgment on the claim for human right abuse.

This lawsuit ultimately concluded that Roxas found a treasure, and although the Hawaiian state court was not required to determine whether this particular treasure was the legendary Yamashita’s gold, the testimony relied upon by the court in reaching its conclusion pointed in that direction. Roxas was allegedly following a map from the son of a Japanese soldier; Roxas allegedly relied on tips provided from Yamashita’s interpreter; and Roxas allegedly found samurai swords and the skeletons of dead Japanese soldiers in the treasure chamber. All this led the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal to summarize the allegations leading to Roxas’ final judgment as follows: “The Yamashita Treasure was found by Roxas and stolen from Roxas by Marcos’ men.”


Awa  Maru  treasure (1945)

Gold, platinum, and diamonds worth more than $5 billion. Alleged. It was lost when the Japanese ship Awa Maru was hit by a torpedo and sank in April 1945.


Patiala  Necklace (circa 1948)

i1dcThe Patiala Necklace was a necklace created by the House of Cartier in 1928. It was made for and named after Bhupinder Singh of Patiala, the then ruling Maharaja of the state of Patiala. It contained 2,930 diamonds, including as its centerpiece, the world’s seventh largest diamond, the 428 carat “De Beers”.

*     The necklace disappeared around 1948. Part of it was recovered fifty years later with the De Beers diamond missing, along with many of the larger stones.


Lufthansa  heist (1978)

Cash and jewels from a robbery at Lufthansa’s cargo terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport in December 1978. With a value of about $5 million, it was the largest cash robbery in the United States at the time.


Antwerp  Diamond  heist (2003)

The Antwerp Diamond Heist, dubbed the “heist of the century”, was a theft of loose diamonds, gold, and other jewellery valued at more than $100 million. The heist took place during the weekend of February 15–16, 2003, in the Antwerp Diamond Centre, located in the centre of the gem district in Antwerp, Belgium. The Antwerp centre heist was the largest diamond heist in history until surpassed by the Schiphol Airport diamond heist on 25 February 2005 and estimated at €109 million ($118 million).

The vault that housed the diamonds is situated two floors below the Diamond Centre. It was protected by multiple security mechanisms, including a lock with 100 million possible combinations, infrared heat detectors, a seismic sensor, Doppler radar, and a magnetic field. The diamond centre itself had a private security force.

Robbery  and  Perpetrators

*     Leonardo Notarbartolo had rented a sparsely furnished office for approximately 25,000 Belgian francs ($700) per month in the diamond centre two and a half years prior to the robbery. It included a safe deposit box located in the vault beneath the building. It also included a tenant ID card that gave him 24-hour access to the building.
There, he posed as an Italian diamond merchant in order to gain credibility. After the robbery, Notarbartolo and his team stole the security footage to conceal their identities. More than 123 out of 160 safe-deposit boxes were forced open, each of which was made of steel and copper and had both a key lock and combination lock.

*     The theft is believed to have been carried out by a five-man team, headed by Leonardo Notarbartolo. Notarbartolo had rented space in the diamond center, and was arrested after being connected to the crime by DNA evidence from a partially eaten sandwich found near the crime scene along with video tapes from the diamond centre.
He was found guilty of orchestrating the heist. He is considered to be the leader of a ring of Italian thieves called “La Scuola di Torino” (The School of Turin). who carried out the crime. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but has since been released on parole.

Notarbartolo claimed in an interview with Wired magazine that a diamond merchant hired them for the heist. He claims that they actually stole approximately €18 million ($20 million) worth of loot, and that the robbery was part of an insurance fraud.


Graff  Diamonds  robbery (2009)

43 items of jewelery, stolen in London on 6 August 2009. Valued at nearly £40 million.


Ivory  Coast  Crown  Jewels (2011)

Gold pendants, necklaces and bracelets worth $6 million.


Brussels  Airport  diamond  heist (2013)

On 18 February 2013, eight masked gunmen in two cars with police markings stole approximately US$50 million (€38 million, GB£33 million) worth of diamonds from a Swiss-bound Fokker 100 operated by Helvetic Airways on the apron at Brussels Airport, Belgium, just before 20:00 CET. The heist was accomplished without a shot being fired.

*     The robbers hid in a construction site outside the airport prior to the robbery. They were armed with AK-47 type rifles and dressed as police officers. Entering the airport through a hole they created in the airport security fence, the robbers drove on the property with two vehicles, a Mercedes van and a car, both of which were black with flashing blue police lights. They drove straight to the airplane where the gems were being transferred from a Brink’s armored van, which had driven from Antwerp, onto the Fokker 100 twin engine jet Swiss Flight LX789, which was bound for Zurich.
The time period between the loading procedure and the moment the plane started to move to take off would only have lasted “15 minutes” according to Caroline De Wolf, a spokeswoman for the Antwerp World Diamond Centre. De Wolf stated that the window for opportunity was so small that the perpetrators must have known ahead of time about the transfer procedures and timing.

The robbers stopped the plane and then brandished their guns, stopping the pilots and transport security. The Brussels prosecutors’ office described the weapons used as “like Kalashnikovs” most likely the Galil. The robbers never dropped their weapons. The robbers loaded 130 bags into their cars and drove off, but left behind some gems in their hurry.
The whole robbery took about 20 minutes. The robbery did not appear to disturb any of the passengers. In fact, the passengers did not know that anything had happened until they were told to disembark because the flight had been cancelled. The van believed to be used in the robbery was later found abandoned and burned.

Reaction  and  Caught

*     Belgian prosecutor Ine Van Wymersch said the thieves “were very, very professional”. French airport security consultant Doron Levy said, “I am certain this was an inside job”, adding the heist was “incredibly audacious and well organized” and that big jobs like that were often so well organized the thieves “probably know the employees by name”.
Several arrests were made on May 8th 2013 during raids in Belgium. About 200 police officers searched 40 apartments, mostly in Brussels, and secured some of the haul.

*     More than 30 suspects in a spectacular $50 million diamond heist have been rounded up in three countries and at least some of the precious stones have been recovered, Belgian and Swiss officials said today.The sweep operation started Tuesday with an arrest of a man in France and Swiss police arrested six other people said Anja Bijnens of the state prosecutor’s office in Brussels. Some 250 Belgian police officers arrested 24 more people in the Brussels area, Bijnens said.

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