Art theft

Indian jewels owned by Qatari sheikh stolen from Venice exhibition

Brooch and earrings removed during the day from a reinforced display case

the pair of stolen earrings (the two pear-shaped diamonds are individually 14.4 and 15.75 carats each) Copyright The Al Thani Collection'

Italian police are seeking earrings and a brooch stolen from the Doge’s Palace in Venice yesterday (3 January) in a daytime heist. The items were removed on the last day of the exhibition, Treasures of the Mughals and the Maharajas, which included more than 270 items collected by Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah al-Thani of Qatar, a cousin of the Emir.

The jewels—a Bhagat pendant brooch in platinum, diamonds and rubies (2011) and Bhagat diamond earrings (2014)—were removed from a reinforced display case after the alarm was deactivated. “We are clearly dealing here with two skilled professionals who managed to pull off their feat despite all the display rooms being fitted with technologically highly sophisticated (alarm) systems," the chief police commissioner, Vito Gagliardi, told Agence-France Presse.

According to press reports, the declared value of the items on customs forms was around €30,000 though The Art Newspaper understands that this figure is not correct. A statement issued by the Civic Museums of Venice says: “The stolen objects are contemporary pieces and consequently are of less historical value than other items in the collection.”

also missing: a pendant brooch featuring a 10 carat, Grade D diamond Copyright The Al Thani Collection

“The Al Thani collection is a private collection of exceptional Indian and Indian-inspired gems and jewellery spanning 400 years, from the Mughal period to the present day,” says a statement on the collection website. The jewellery exhibition was previously held at the Victoria & Albert museum in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Officials at the Doge’s Palace located in St Mark’s Square declined to say if security measures would subsequently be stepped up.