Art thieves jacked open a glass case ‘as if it were a tin can’ to snatch antique Indian jewels on display at Venice’s Doge’s Palace, police reported yesterday (Wednesday 3 January).
The gems, worth tens of thousands of euros formed part of the ‘Treasures of the Mughals and Maharajahs’ exhibition at the Palace and belong to the Al Thani Collection. They were on display in the Sala dello Scrutinio when CCTV footage captured two people breaking into the case.
One thief appears to have covered for the other who opened the case and removed a gold brooch and possibly a pair of earrings. The jewel thieves made their escape by disappearing into the crowds of visitors at the exhibition even after the alarm sounded. In one final attempt to apprehend them the Palace was shut down, but they stole away with their haul. Police said their escape was aided by security staff shortages in the Palace rooms.
According to experts, the stolen pieces were ‘minor works’ compared to the other gems on display. Nonetheless, they are thought to carry an estimated value of €30,000 (£26,700).
‘Treasures of the Mughals’ made Venice the first city in Italy to display the Al Thani collection of over 270 pieces of Indian jewellery. Commissioned over five centuries and said to have belonged to the descendants of Gengis Khan and the great Maharajahs, the jewels were collected by His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al Thani, a member of the Qatari Royal Family.
The exhibition had been due to close yesterday.