Just before six in the morning on Sunday, the Château de Fontainebleau was the target of a carefully planned robbery. The perpetrators were in and out in seven minutes, rapidly smashing through gates and glass cases to get to the pieces they had pre-selected.
In a statement released by the Ministry of Culture, the list of missing items includes a crown of the King of Siam, given to Emperor Napoleon III during the king’s official visit to France in 1861 and a Chinese chimera in cloisonné enamel from the reign of Quianlong (1736-1795).
The stolen artefacts were exhibited in the Chinese wing of the château, they came from China and Siam, known as Thailand today, and were collected by Empress Eugenie, Napoleon’s wife. She had them personally placed in her museum, which was created in 1863. The Chinese wing of the museum is considered to be one of the most secure areas of the palace, equipped with a state of the art security system. “It’s an enormous shock”, said the president of the château de Fontainebleau, Jean-François Hebert, in a statement to AFP “the works stolen were unique and hold and of incalculable value.”
The Fontainebleau palace is one of the most extraordinary cultural sites in France. With over 1500 works of art displayed in the château and the 130 hectares park and gardens, Fontainebleau is the only royal and imperial palace to have been in use without interruption for seven centuries.
Source: Reuters, Le Journal des Arts