Spanish police recover bounty from burgled mansion

The following artice appears courtesy of The Associated Press

Author: DANIEL WOOLLS (AP)

MADRID — Spanish police have recovered most of a reported euro 300 million ($400 million) trove of antique jewels and other valuables stolen from a mansion whose owner says he kept it looking decrepit to hide the treasure inside.

Two people have been arrested in the March 14 burglary in the northeastern Catalonia region and a third is being sought, a police official said Thursday.

The entire house had been cleaned out, included rings, necklaces, tiaras encrusted with diamonds, rubies or pearls, silver medallions, medals, trays, jugs and other valuables dating as far back as the 12th century.

About 85 percent of the loots has been recovered, the police official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, in line with department rules.

The owner, Llorenc Jaume Grau-Pla, 65, is a descendant of a medieval baron, and only used the house in the town of Riudecols on weekends and in summer. The valuables were in glass display cases inside, in plain view.

“I keep the house run-down on purpose as a way to camouflage the high-value collection I keep inside,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper El Pais.

He estimated its value at euro300 million. Police said they can neither confirm nor dispute that amount because they have no experts to do appraisals.

The two detainees, identified only as young Romanians, apparently invited their own arrest.

A day after the burglary, they called police to report an attempted theft at their home about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the mansion.

Officers searching it found a camera with pictures of the treasures and a sock containing an antique coin from the burgled house. They found the rest of the loot in a bag hidden in a nearby ravine.

The two men had learned from someone else in Riudecols that there were valuables in the mansion. Their call to police stemmed from an apparent fight with people who came around seeking a share of the goodies, the police official said.

Riudecols’ mayor, Pere Solanellas, said the town is shocked.

“This has been surreal because almost no one knew about this treasure,” he said.

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