Lugash on the lagoon


The exhibition poster: “Treasures of the Mughals and the Maharajahs.”  This piece alone gives a glimpse of the insane gorgeousness of the collection belonging to Sheik Hamad bin Abdullah Al Thani of the royal family of  Qatar.

Imagine a large room in a world-famous palace/museum, in which a lavish assortment of five centuries of dazzling Indian jewelry has been on display for months.  This palace is in a famous, small, cramped, waterbound tourist city, a place not especially conducive to rapid escape.  Imagine also that on the last day of the exhibition two men stroll in at 10:00 AM, deftly open a case, and mere seconds later just wander off, out of sight, with a pair of earrings and a brooch valued at 3 million dollars.

You can stop imagining.  It happened on January 3 in the Doge’s Palace, and the jewels were not called the Pink Panther, but they might as well have been.  The thieves are two men, caught on surveillance video, who didn’t even use a picklock, crowbar, bobby pin, small explosive; it appears that the case had already been slightly opened to facilitate the theft.  It also appears that they had an electronic device that delayed the sounding of the alarm.  Certainly it went off.  Just too late to do any good; by then, the two thieves were lost in the crowd and gone.

The Sala dello Scrutinio doesn’t need any help in looking fabulous, but the dressing of this set, if we want to call it that, was worthy of the 270 pieces dating from the 16th to the 20th centuries displayed for the first time in Italy. It was as if Faberge’ had gone to India and came back to Venice.  (Photo: Mattinopadova)

The city is agog, as you might suppose, and none more so than the parties directly involved in ensuring that this kind of thing doesn’t happen.  Did the thieves have inside help?  And how clever they were to plan this exploit for the last day, when the atmosphere was certainly that of the party being over.

There have already been pages and pages written in the press about this most unpleasant start to the New Year.  Sparing you every speculation so far, may I merely note that the display cases were made by the Al Thani Foundation, as was the security system used.  That certainly complicates the directions in which fingers might be pointing.

The items now at large. Most articles have pointed out that they were not among the most valuable, either historically or monetarily, of the items in the collection.  If that makes anybody feel any better.  (Photo: Corriere del Veneto).


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  1. Barbara Bonn says:

    The purloined earbobs may not be the most valuable in the collection nor the most historic. But they are YOU, my dear. Congratulations on perfecting your Cloak of Invisibiity. E indossali in buona salute. 😉

    • Erla Zwingle says:

      I appreciate the compliment! But my ability to be invisible applies only to when I cross paths with somebody who owes me money. I see them but somehow they don’t see me.

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