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One of the World's Largest Gold Coins Is Still Missing After Four Arrests

The 221-pound, solid gold "Big Maple Leaf" is worth more than $4 million.

by Drew Schwartz
Jul 12 2017, 3:30pm

Photo by MARCEL METTELSIEFEN/AFP/Getty Images

Back in March, a band of thieves mounted an Ocean's Eleven–level heist at a German museum and made off with the "Big Maple Leaf": a 221-pound coin worth roughly $4 million that earned a Guinness World Record for its unmatched size and purity. The operation baffled police—but they made their first major breakthrough on Wednesday, arresting several people in Berlin in connection with the case, Deutsche Welle reports.

SWAT teams raided 13 different buildings in Neukölln, detaining a total of four suspects between the ages of 18 and 20, but no gold coin, the Associated Press reports. A police spokesman told the Guardian those arrested belong to an "Arabic-Kurdish clan" with ties to the arms trade, drug smuggling, and racketeering. Apparently, authorities tracked them down by swabbing for DNA evidence in the museum that housed the coin.

The "Big Maple Leaf" disappeared from Berlin's Bode Museum in the early hours of a Monday morning in March. According to police, the gang of thieves propped a ladder on a set of elevated train tracks next to the museum and climbed inside through a third-floor window. They broke through the coin's bulletproof glass case, and somehow managed to lug the massive hunk of gold back through the window, onto the train tracks, and roll it in a wheelbarrow 330 feet to a nearby park. Cops are still lost as to where it might have gone from there, though they suspect it could have been melted into smaller chunks and sold off individually.

According to the Royal Canadian Mint, the stolen coin is one of five that it made back in 2007 "because we can." The mint assigned it a face value of $1 million, but at more than an inch thick, about 20 inches wide, and composed of 24 karat gold, it's worth much more, according to the BBC. Its theft astounded Bernhard Weisser, the director of the collection that housed it at the Bode.

"When I finally understood what had happened, my knees were shaking," he told DW back in March. "We still hope that the coin will surface... no matter what condition it might be in."

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