Little India: Overseas Indian, NRI, Asian Indian, Indian American

Indian Royal Jewels Stolen from Venice Exhibition

Peacock aigrette, 1905, is a part of the al Thani collection.

Jewelry pieces said to be worth millions, belonging to 16th and 20th centuries India, were stolen from an exhibition at Doge’s Palace in Venice on Jan. 3. A brooch and a pair of earrings, which were part of an exhibition titled “Treasures of the Mughals and the Maharajahs,” were stolen on the closing day of the show by two men.

While the footage of the thieves was captured on CCTV cameras, they escaped by delaying the alarm and blending in with the crowd swarming the St. Mark’s Square, located a few feet away from Doge’s Palace.

“The glass case was opened up as if it were a tin can while the alarm, if it worked at all, went off late,” Vito Gagliardi, the head of Venice Police, was quoted as saying by the ANSA news agency. “It is essential to understand what didn’t work properly in the security systems.”

The collection comprises pieces such as the Tiger Eye Turban ornament that dates to 1937.

The thieves are believed to have been technologically adept professionals. Marco Odorisio, a police official, told the media that the thieves most likely studied the security measures at the palace.

The exhibition featured the collection owned by Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah al-Thani of the ruling family of Qatar. The exhibition, which was on display since September last year, featured a collection of 270 pieces covering 500 years — from the Mughal empire to the British Raj through to contemporary India.

The collection is usually kept locked in London when it is not on display in an exhibition around the world. “There is no comparable collection on the planet,” according to the Forbes magazine.

The declared value of stolen items was around 30,000 euros. However, they are probably worth millions in reality. The police said the photographs have been sent to the al-Thani family residing in London so that they can be identified and their real value can be estimated.

A spokesman for the Al Thani Collection in the United Kingdom said the family was “still awaiting full details,” the Telegraph reported.

The Al Thani collection was displayed in France and Japan last year. Its world tour started in October 2014 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, according to New York Post.