Qatari-owned jewels stolen in audacious Venice robbery

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 January, 2018, 2:54pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 January, 2018, 10:41pm

Thieves made off with several items of Indian maharajas’ treasures owned by a member of the Qatari royal family after an audacious heist on Wednesday at the Doge’s Palace in Venice, police said.

Italian authorities investigating the theft put at around 1 million (US$1.2 million) the overall value of the collection of Treasures of the Mughals and the Maharajahs on display. News reports estimated the value of the stolen items in the millions of euros.

Two thieves got away with earrings and a brooch on the final day of a four-month exhibition covering some 270 items showcasing five centuries of Indian craftsmanship.

Investigators said the pair had managed to take the items from a reinforced display case after deactivating the alarm system before melting into the crowd and making good their escape.

The alarm was raised only several hours later at the palace, known as the Palazzo Ducale in Italy, in central Venice at one end of Saint Mark’s Square.

“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,” chief police commissioner Vito Gagliardi said.

The collection was assembled by Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah al-Thani and now belongs to Qatar’s ruling family. The stolen jewels were not the top highlights of the Al-Thani Collection, which Forbes magazine has said “there is no comparable collection on the planet”.

In a statement, the foundation said the brooch and earrings stolen were “contemporary pieces and consequently are of less historical value than other items in the collection”.

Venice police noted that since the items are so unique they will be nearly impossible to sell on the market.

The city was the latest stop in the travelling exhibit that has taken the collection to Paris’ Grand Palais, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, New York’s Metropolitan and the Miho Museum near Kyoto, Japan.

Additional reporting by Associated Press