Located across the globe, there are many priceless treasures that need protected — from artful masterpieces to the most bespoke jewels in the world. This year alone, there has been countless heists making their way to the big screen including King of Thieves, Ocean’s 8 and that unforgettable sting scene in Marvel’s Black Panther.
As the inspiration behind this blog post, our team thought it would be interesting to investigate the most valuable artefacts in the world, and analyse their security processes to ensure that the heists we see in the cinema remain fictional, or impossible to complete without being detected by the advanced IP CCTV systems many premises now have in place.
Louvre Museum: Mona Lisa
Leonardo da Vinci is considered to be the most influential artist of all time. The Italian Renaissance created pieces such as The Last Supper, Salvator Mundi and the most recognisable, most known, most visited and most written about pieces of art — the Mona Lisa which is thought to have been crafted between 1503 and 1517.
Interestingly, Guinness World Records stated that the painting has the highest known insurance valuation in history. This was $100 million in 1962, but inflation increased the figure to $821,746,666.67 in 2018, becoming one of the most valuable items on the planet.
You’ll be surprised to hear that the painting was never signed by da Vinci and was never delivered to its intended owner. The painting was bought by King Francis I and entered the Royal Collection in 1518. Once the French Revolution ended in 1799, the painting was moved to the Louvre for safekeeping — but years later, it was stolen.
The painting was stolen in 1911 and took a few hours to realise it was gone. French painter, Louis Béroud asked guards where it was, and they were under the impression that it was being photographed for advertisements. Béroud returned a few hours later and the painting had not been returned.
As a result, the museum closed for one week as local authorities carried out their investigation. Suspects included poet Guillaume Apollinaire and artist Pablo Picasso — however, they were cleared of all charges.
Found two years later was the real thief, Vicenzo Peruggia. He was found trying to sell the painting to a museum in Florence and it is known as one of the greatest thefts of the 20th century. 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.
Believe it or not, Peruggia was jailed for a short six months as the crime was described as a sign of patriotism for Italy. Once discovered, the painting returned to its home in Paris.
Today, the Mona Lisa reportedly attracts six million visitors each year. However, due to previous vandal attempts such as acid attacks, the painting sits behind a bulletproof glass that is two centimetres thick. As well as this, the piece itself is held in a special 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 museum measures 70,000 square metres and requires 24-hour surveillance using closed-circuit TV cameras. As well as this, access control systems are posited at most entry and exit points where state-of-the-art intruder detection equipment (such as video analytics) can monitor people at all times and protect world-class art.
Strangnas Cathedral: Sweden’s Crown Jewels
You’ll be familiar with how the Crown Jewels in England are protected, but Sweden’s own set have become victim to a few heists in the past. Just recently in August, items that belonged to King Charles IX of Sweden and his Queen, Christina of Holstein-Gottorp — including two crowns and a royal orb — were stolen in an unsophisticated heist.
The jewels are 400 years old and were originally crafted as funeral pieces to be buried in the tomb but were unearthed years later. The heist seemed extremely amateur. Two men walked into the cathedral around midday and smashed the glass where the contents were held — causing alarms to go off around the cathedral and alert the local authorities.
The thieves made a quick escape by cycling and then a motorboat to speed through Stockholm’s archipelago. However, one of the thieves was soon tracked down because of blood left at the crime scene and the jewels were partly recovered.
The crown jewels would have been extremely difficult to sell on the black market as they were being hunted by high authorities. As well as this, they’re extremely valuable 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.
The royal jewels had been stolen prior to this too. A 19-year old refugee acted as a friend of a member of the royal family in 2012 and stole £73,700 worth of jewels. He didn’t keep them for himself or sell them to black market dealers — he instead got £730 worth of marijuana from drug dealers. As well as this, the thief also reportedly stole a £30,350 tiara and threw it off a bridge.
The jewels were not properly protected, and this is something that Sweden should be looking into — ensuring that everyone who enters the cathedral is monitored. 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.
Tower of London: The Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom
The UK’s royal family has many beautiful treasures in its collection — St Edward’s Crown being one of the most notable pieces. With 23,578 delicate stones and over 140 objects, putting an exact price on the jewels has been difficult but estimates have been made stating that they are worth over £3bn. As well as this, it has also proven impossible to insure them because of their immense value.
The entire collection is constantly on lock down in Jewel House, located 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.
Assigned by the Ministry of Defense, the jewels are protected by 22 guards detached from the British Army. 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.
The only person who has the authority to remove the crown jewels for occasions like the State Opening of Parliament and Coronations is the Lord Chamberlain — Head of the Royal Household. However, when this type of activity occurs, armed police officers must be present.
If you’d like to find out how we can help your business protect itself from any criminal activity, contact us today.