February 5, 2013

Belgian Police Searching for Snuffboxes Stolen from Residence before New Year's Eve

INTERPOL has issued an alert that Belgian Police are searching for 18th and 19th century snuffboxes and boxes stolen December 30 from a Namur residence in the south of Belgium (INTERPOL added 56 stolen items to its  Works of Art Database).

One of the snuffboxes (dated 1795-1797), pictured to the left, is made of gold, diamonds, and translucent blue enamel.  On the lid is a portrait of Napoleon painted on ivory.  It is signed 'AUGUSTIN'.  The jeweller is identified as Adrien Jean Maximilien Vachette, the French goldsmith.  The snuffbox is engraved with "No. 35.E", the same number handwritten on a sticker inside the case that bears the coat of arms of the emperor.

In September 1979, the Smithsonian Institute reported the theft of a $125,000 gold snuffbox, a gift from the Russian Empress Catherine the Great to one of her lovers, Prince Gregory Orlov.  Three years later, the FBI revealed that the gold box had been stripped of its diamonds and melted down.

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