Canadian artist Susanna Blunt is widely acclaimed for the portraits she has painted of famous people around the world. And what is arguably one of her most valuable works was recently stolen from a Berlin museum. But the missing artwork was no painting. It was the Big Maple Leaf, a CAD $1 million coin released by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007.
Blunt created the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II that appeared on Canadian coins minted between 2003 and 2014. At 999.99/1000 pure, the Big Maple Leaf is the Guinness World Record holder for the purest gold coin ever made. The Royal Canadian Mint created six Big Maple Leaves. Each is three centimetres thick and has a diameter of 53 centimetres. They kept the original in storage and sold the other five to private individuals. Though their original pricing was CAD $1 million, the purity of the coins makes their current value closer to CAD $4 million.
In 2010, one Big Maple Leaf
was acquired by the Bode Museum
in Berlin, where it was displayed behind bulletproof glass. On 27 March, thieves entered a back window of the museum, shattered the bulletproof glass and stole the coin. German police have released few details, other than to say the coin is too heavy to have been carried off by one person.
Image caption: Bode Museum. Photo by Christian Thiele.