The Greatest Gold Heist in History

Written By Luke Burgess

Posted February 22, 2023

March 27, 2017: It was a clear, cold night in Berlin.

A group of young thieves slipped through the shadows, their minds fixed on the prize ahead.

The target: A gold bullion cointhe size of a bike tire.


The Big Maple Leaf is a massive Canadian gold coin weighing 100 kilograms (220 pounds) with a face value of CAD$1 million.

A set of six of these coins was produced by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007. At the time they were produced, they were the largest gold bullion coins ever made.

In 2010, a private owner loaned one of the Big Maple Leaf coins to the Bode Museum in Berlin, where it sat on display for years.

The coin was stored in a bulletproof glass case in the coin cabinet of the museum, which was known for its huge numismatic collection. But that did not deter a group of thieves.

The theft of the Big Maple Leaf was a meticulously planned operation. Authorities believe the thieves entered the museum in the middle of the night through a window using a ladder to climb up to the first floor.

They then used a sledgehammer and an ax to break through the bulletproof glass case and remove the coin. The giant coin was lifted through a window using a rope before and into a wheelbarrow. The thieves then reportedly used the wheelbarrow and a skateboard to move the coin to a nearby park where they had a getaway car waiting.

The operation took only a few minutes and the thieves were able to escape undetected.

The theft of the Big Maple Leaf caused a sensation in Germany and around the world. The coin was valued at around USD$4 million at the time, making it one of the most valuable coins in the world. Today the coin is worth more than USD$5.9 million.

The theft was seen as a major embarrassment for the Bode Museum and for the German authorities, especially when the suspects were rounded up.

A few months following the theft, German police arrested three young men between ages of 18 and 20, barely adults. Imagine losing a $6 million gold coin only to learn a few 18-year-olds stole it… Pretty embarrassing.

The courts found the suspects guilty in 2020 and jail sentences were handed out. However, the fate of the Big Maple Leaf remains unknown.

Authorities believe the men melted the massive coin down, so it's unlikely to ever be recovered. The theft will, however, continue to be remembered as one of the most daring heists of recent years.