The world’s vaults and museums are filled with items that havegreat value and high insurance prices. As heist films make their way back into our cinemas — recently with the Ocean’s reboot (Ocean’s 8) and an epic sting scene in Marvel’s Black Panther — you’re probably wondering how we actually protectthese types of assets and keep those scenarios fictional.
Alongside 2020 Vision, a leader in access control systems, we explore current security measures and how these prevent criminal activity involving priceless artefacts.
The crown jewels of Sweden
Due to their possession of many expensive items, it’s no surprise that royal families are not immune to theft. In August 2018, two crowns and a royal orb that belonged to King Charles IX of Sweden and his wife Christina of Holstein-Gottorp were stolen in what looked like an amateur heist.
At around 400 years old, these valuables were on public display at Strangnas Cathedral at the time — however, this was not always the case. The gems were originally created as funeral pieces and were buried in the tomb, but later unearthed. Although the theft was premediated, it was extremely insufficient. Two men walked into the cathedral around midday and smashed the glass where the contents were held — causing alarms to go off around the building.
Using just a couple of bicycles, the thieves sped away from the scene of the crime before boarding a motorboat along Lake Malaren. However, one of the thieves was soon tracked down because of blood left at the crime scene and the jewels were partly recovered.
Although valuable, The Swedish royal family’s crown jewels would have been extremely hard to sell on the black market due how sought after they would have been by the authorities. As well as this, they’re extremely expensive and the thieves would have to find the right buyers. The jewels are made from the noblest metals and the gold value is worth around £43,000.
Unfortunately, this has occurred before. In 2012, a 19-year-old refugee claimed to be a friend of a member of the royal family and stole £73,700 worth of jewels — but sold them only for £730 to drug dealers for marijuana. As well as this, the thief also reportedly stole a £30,350 tiara and threw it off a bridge.
Is Sweden lacking when it comes to security? Although the stolen crown jewels from the cathedral were on public display, they weren’t properly protected, and the thieves should have been detected as they walked in. With artefacts of immense value situated in the building, the cathedral should be looking at installing walkthrough security door frames and regular visitor searches. In terms of the theft in 2012, people with the right credentials should only be able to enter certain areas of the palace.
The Mona Lisa
Created between 1503 and 1517 by Leonardo Da Vinci, the Mona Lisa is considered one of the most iconic pieces of art on the planet. In fact, the piece itself is the most known, most visited and most written about in modern times.
According to the Guinness World Records, the Mona Lisa has the highest insurance valueever —$100 million as of 1962 and inflation increases this to $821,746,666.67 in 2018!
Never signed by Da Vinci nor received by its planned owner, the Mona Lisa was sold to King Francis I and supposedly entered the Royal Collection in 1518. After the French Revolution, the painting was moved to the Louvre; what was thought to be a safe-haven for the piece — but it wasn’t.
The piece of art was first known to have been stolen in 1911. However, it took a few hours to realise it! French painter, Louis Béroud, visited The Louvre and found that the painting was missing — he asked the guards about its whereabouts and they weren’t entirely sure and assumed that it was being photographed for museum advertisements. Béroud returned a few hours later and the painting had not been returned; it had been stolen.
The famous museum was shut down for a week to deal with the crime. There were many now famous-faces on the suspect list for the theft of this masterpiece, including Guillaume Apollinaire and Pablo Picasso — but they were both cleared of all charges.
It took two years for the identity of the true thief to come to light. VicenzoPeruggiatried to sell the painting to a museum in Florence and was finally apprehended. It’s often described as one of the greatest thefts in the 20th century, as Peruggia stole the piece during working hours, hid in a broom closet and waited until after hours to walk out of the museum with the painting positioned under his coat. However, the thief was only jailed for six months, as it was defined as an act of patriotism for Italy. The painting returned to its home in Paris.
Authorities learned their lesson. Today, the Mona Lisa is kept safe behind bulletproof glass reportedly around two centimetres thick and is held in a sealed box that protects it from vibrations and humidity. Public visitors are separated from the piece by a queue barrier, but that is only one aspect of the state-of-the-art security systems that the Louvre has put in place…
The crown jewels of the United Kingdom
The royal family of the United Kingdom has many treasures. With 23,5578 delicate stones and over 140 objects, putting an exact price on the crown jewels has been difficult. However, estimates have been made stating that they are worth over £3billion.As well as this, it has also proven impossible to insure them because of their immense value.
Consequently, intense security measures are in place at the Jewel House at the Tower of London. Believe it or not, the crown jewels are protected by bombproof glass and although the tower is open to the public, they’re watched by more than 100 hidden CCTV cameras. Also, the Tower of London has its own 22-strong Tower Guard, which is a detachment of the British Army. Its sole purpose is protecting the Crown Jewels on behalf of the Ministry of Defense. Additionally, these guards are accompanied by 38 Yeomen Warders, who are ex-military personnel who manage the large numbers of visitors. The Yeomen are permanently present and live in the tower itself.
To reduce the chances of theft, the Crown Jewels are only displayed on special occasions, such as Coronation and State Opening ceremonies. What’s more, they can be only removed under the authority of the Lord Chamberlain, who is the head of the Royal Household. Although armed police officers must be present on these occasions.