Four armed thieves burgle jewellery at TEFAF art fair in the Netherlands

After being postponed for two years due to the pandemic, The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) returned in the Netherlands. Unexpectedly, a jewellery heist occurred.

On 28 June, at around 11:30am, four suspects carried out the attack. One of them held a giant sledgehammer, smashed a glass display case and then snatched jewellery. Two of the four thieves were arrested shortly after the incident, while the hunt for the other two is ongoing. It is reported that the London jeweller, Symbolic & Chase, was robbed.

According to Dutch media sources, the burglary’s valuations range from US$10 to around 28.3 million dollars. However, the art fair and local police are yet to confirm the details.

Four smartly dressed thieves were part of a jewellery heist in the Netherlands

One thief used a sledgehammer to smash into a display case and snatched jewellery from it 

Dutch police at the scene after the incident

In videos taken by witnesses at the fair, one visitor threatened to throw a large vase full of flowers at the burglars. In response, one of the culprits was with a machine gun and swung around to confront the visitor. 

Another robber continued to pound a display case with a sledgehammer. After consecutive hits, he snatched jewellery from the case and then left the scene with his companions. The group fled in a grey vehicle with a Belgian registration number and were stopped by the police on a nearby highway – en route to the Dutch-Belgian border.

Two Belgian men – aged 22 and 26 – were arrested, while the hunt for the other two suspects is ongoing. The organiser said in a statement that the fair’s security teams worked swiftly to disarm an offender and the Dutch police quickly arrived on site. No one was injured at the scene and the fair resumed shortly afterwards.

The shattered display case where the burglars snatched jewellery 

Symbolic & Chase's jewellery store in London

According to Western media sources, the thieves smashed a display case of the London jeweller, Symbolic & Chase. In Dutch media sources, the display case is believed to contain two pairs of earrings worth US$10 million dollars. It is also reported that the robbed jewellery was a necklace worth €27 million euros (around US$28.3 million dollars).

However, the art fair was unwilling to confirm or deny the valuations. Police did not state details about the goods which were stolen – a detail Dutch authorities try to keep undisclosed during an ongoing investigation.

Symbolic & Chase is a London jeweller with a two-storey store located on Old Bond Street – a luxurious shopping district in the British capital. The company specialises in 20th century European jewellery.

The case where the thieves smashed into are believed to contain two pairs of earrings, and to be worth US$10 million dollars. But it remains unconfirmed by local authorities

This year's TEFAF in the Netherlands will be held until June 30

Established in 1988 in Maastricht, the Netherlands, TEFAF is Europe's largest art and antiquities fair. Attracting tens of thousands of visitors annually, many museum-quality items – such as paintings, rare books, furniture and jewellery – are viewed and purchased.

Despite the heist, this year’s fair will run until June 30 as originally scheduled and features more than 250 dealers from 22 countries.

This was not the first time that the fair experienced robbery. In 2010, the stand of London jeweller Hancock's was hit in an attack where thieves stole a pink sapphire and diamond ring, and a diamond pendant. The combined value of the pieces was worth €860,000 euros (around US$1.3 million dollars).