7 exhibits stolen from Palace Museum

Updated: 2011-05-11 11:33

By Yan Weijue (

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Police are hunting for a burglar who stole millions of dollars worth of art pieces in an overnight heist at the famed Palace Museum in Beijing.

7 exhibits stolen from Palace Museum
A soldier stands guard at the scene of the crime outside the exhibition hall at Palace Museum in downtown Beijing, May 10, 2011. [Photo/The Beijing News]

The suspect, who was caught on security cameras, is believed to have hidden inside China's biggest museum before closing on May 8, and carried out the burglary before midnight.

News about the theft inside the heavily fortified Forbidden City Palace began to hit China's cyber world Tuesday. A blogger claimed the theft amounted to nearly one billion yuan ($154 million).

The museum confirmed the theft Tuesday afternoon on its microblog, but did not confirm the value of seven stolen items which were borrowed from a Hong Kong museum for the exhibition in the capital.

"They (the stolen items) are private collections, basically gold and silver powder boxes decorated by gems of various kinds," said Wang Xiahong, curator of the Hong Kong-based Liangyi Museum.

"Not as much as 1 billion yuan, but tens of millions to say the least." she adds.

Organizers say the exhibition will continue till June 27 as scheduled after a discussion with the collector of the missing items.

7 exhibits stolen from Palace Museum
A spokesman (R) for the Palace Museum apologizes to Wang Xiahong, curator of the Hong Kong-based Liangyi Musuem at a news conference held in Beijing, May 11, 2011.[Photo/Xinhua] 

The Palace Museum held a news conference Wednesday morning to release photos of the stolen pieces which may be on sale on the black-market.

A spokesman for Palace Museum apologized to its Hong Kong counterpart at the conference, admitting the theft is a shame for the internationally famed museum and it takes full responsibility for that.

Exhibition halls, including the site of the theft in the east part of the museum, have been closed to tourists since Tuesday noon. The authorities have not given a clear date on when they will reopen.

Security has been tighened since Tuesday around the museum. The last theft in the museum occurred in 1991.





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