Throughout history, people in myriad cultures have created fantastic works of art or adornment, mined precious minerals and gems, amassed great treasures (often by looting other treasures). And as long as these priceless works and objects and collections have existed, they have been stolen, or gone missing without explanation.
24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of 25 great treasures that disappeared and have never been found by reviewing information on sites including Livescience, the Monuments Men and Women Foundation, Wired, the BBC, Reader’s Digest, and BestLife.
Often the theft or disappearance of these precious works occurs during war, tumultuous events such as revolutions, or natural disasters, when it is difficult to protect them. Sometimes the treasures are recovered, however, many are still missing and some might be destroyed. (Here are 25 cultural treasures destroyed forever by war.)
Armies have been plundering treasure since the earliest civilizations. In the first century A.D., the Roman army took the menorah, a seven-branched candelabrum, from the Second Temple in Jerusalem, transporting it to Rome, where it eventually vanished. Treasures such as Japan’s Honjō Masamune sword, the Royal Casket of Poland, and Raphael’s “Portrait of a Young Man” were lost in the chaos of World War II.
Ships such as the São Vicente, the Flor de la Mar, and the Beatrice went to the bottom with untold treasure and irreplaceable artifacts – for instance Incan relics or an ornate sarcophagus from Egypt. (These vessels are lost to time, unlike these, the most famous shipwrecks ever found.)
Some valuables were stolen, like Tucker’s Gross, the Crown Jewels of Ireland, and Caravaggio’s “Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence.” Others, such as the Library of Moscow Tsars or some of the unique Romanov Fabergé eggs, simply disappeared.
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