Celtic gold coins stolen from German museum in stunning heist

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On Tuesday, a huge horde of ancient Celtic gold coins was stolen from the Celtic and Roman Museum in Manching, Germany, according to the Bavarian State Police. Authorities estimate the value of the coins, which together weighed about 4 kg (8.8 pounds), to be over $1 million.

“The loss of the Celtic treasure is a disaster,” explained Bavaria’s minister of science and art Markus Blume to the German news agency dpa. “As a testament to our history, the gold coins are irreplaceable.”

The 483 coins were first found in 1999 in ancient Celtic settlement known as the Oppidum of Manching. Archaeologists soon realized how sensational the discovery was: the coins represent the largest Celtic gold find of the 20th century. Trove is also the subject of continuing scholarly research into Celtic trade networks.

The largest Celtic gold find of the 20th century was found near Manching in 1999.

The largest Celtic gold find of the 20th century was found near Manching in 1999.
(Photo by Frank Mächler/dpa via Getty Images)

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That This is written by Süddeutsche Zeitung that the circumstances of the theft were straight out of a Hollywood movie. To avoid triggering the alarm, the thieves cut telecommunication cables, causing internet and phone outages throughout Manching.

The heist reportedly lasted only 9 minutes.

“The museum is actually a high-security place. But all connections with the police were cut off,” explained Manching’s mayor Herbert Nerb to the Bavarian newspaper. “Professionals were at work here.”

Police are appealing for witnesses who may have seen suspicious persons near the museum or have other information that may lead to the recovery of the treasure.

The Celtic and Roman Museum is pictured in the evening light in Manching, Germany, Tuesday, November 22, 2022.

The Celtic and Roman Museum is pictured in the evening light in Manching, Germany, Tuesday, November 22, 2022.
(Armin Weigel/dpa via AP)

Rupert Gebhard, who heads the Bavarian state archaeological collection in Munich, estimated the value of the treasure at around 1.6 million euros ($1.65 million). “The archaeologists hope that the coins remain in their original state and will reappear at some point,” he said, adding that they are well documented and would be difficult to sell.

“The worst option, the meltdown, would mean a total loss for us,” he explained, noting that the material value of the gold itself would only add up to around 250,000 euros at current market prices.

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The Manching theft is only the latest in a series of museum thefts that have plagued Germany in recent years.

In November 2019, thieves raided Dresden’s Green Vault, one of Europe’s largest treasure collections. The estimated value of jewels stolen during that robbery is north of $100 million. Six Germans accused of being involved in the robbery went on trial in January this year.

Before that, in March 2017, the “Big Maple Leaf”, a gold coin considered the second largest in the world, was stolen from Berlin’s Bode Museum.

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Authorities have not been able to recover items stolen from either robbery.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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