Byzantine Cross

1008AD

Current Value: $50 million

Value at Time of Theft: $35 Million

THE WORK

This gold and gem-encrusted cross was created by Byzantine craftsmen in approximately 1008 AD. It is thought to contain a piece of the cross on which Christ was crucified.

Works produced in the Byzantine Empire from about the 5th century until the sacking of Constantinople in 1453 are of particular value because of their elaborate use of gold and precious stones. The artists of the period gave up the realistic representation of their subjects, which was central to the works of ancient Greece and Rome, in favor of a more stylized approach.

THE THEFT

The cross was housed in a Romanesque cathedral in the Belgian town of Tournai, about 55 miles southwest of Brussels. Witnesses noted that between the 14th and 17th of February 2008, two men spent an unusual amount of time examining the cross and questioning an employee at the Cathedral’s cash desk. On February 18th, at approximately 10:15AM, two armed robbers entered the Cathedral Treasury, smashed the display case and made off with the cross, eight 17th-century chalices, two episcopal rings and two episcopal crosses.  The men escaped in a dark colored Audi driven by a third thief.