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Lost and Stolen Specimens500 zeolites stolen from a museum in East Iceland

19th Oct 2009 16:16 BSTJamison K Turnbull

Thats right. Friday night theifs broke into a rock collection at the famed Teigarhorn in the east fjords of Iceland and stole around 500 pieces. Estemated around 15 million Icelandic Kroners,($121,000, or 74,000GBP). So be wary of specimeins being sold from Iceland.

Sorry. It's in Icelandic

19th Oct 2009 17:16 BSTFrank deWit Manager

...... :-(

I was in that museum last year ; they had (have) a beautiful collection of zeolites from the Teigarhorn.

The Teigarhorn exposures are on the coastline of the land of the farmer who also owns that museum.

He was collecting there too and selling specimens, from a little shop in the museum. I bought nice pieces from him.

(So... not all specimens now coming on the market will be stolen, they will also be legitimately bought and resold perhaps.)

But this is bad news......... bad news...

By the way: I got an official receipt, with which I could export the Teigarhorn specimens.

but normally, exporting specimens from the Teigarhorn is forbidden. So perhaps the specimens cannot leave Iceland...

20th Oct 2009 14:37 BSTJolyon Ralph Founder

Terrible news.

Please keep eyes open everyone. Let's try to get this reported everywhere, and do our best to get a positive result.


20th Oct 2009 15:13 BSTJeff Weissman Expert

Some pictures of similar material are here

21st Oct 2009 15:07 BSTdon stimpson

hello jeffrey, approximately how many pounds of material are we talking about? my icelandic is not so good. best hopes for recovery of the specimens, don

21st Oct 2009 17:50 BSTPeter Lyckberg Expert


If you have any images of the displays it would be very good!

or anyone else!

The spreading of this to colelctors and dealesr should substantially increase the chance to recover those specimens,

if they are offered at any mineral show.


22nd Oct 2009 10:01 BSTAxel Emmermann

I'll post a warning on the Flemish/Dutch discussion list 'e-Min'. We'll keep an eye open!


22nd Oct 2009 15:52 BSTDon Swenson

This is terrible news; it's fortunate that an organization exists that can disseminate the news quickly. I'd like to raise a possible unintended consequence: the thieves may now try to sell the specimens from a bogus locality or none at all. I realize this will diminish their "take", but I don't think concerned collectors should assume that specimens labeled from other sites can't be part of the theft.

22nd Oct 2009 16:05 BSTAlfredo Petrov Manager

The last such theft of similar scope that I'm aware of were the many fine specimens taken at night from Marcus Origlieri at Tucson in February 2008. Turns out they weren't offered for sale anywhere - they were all still in the home of a local hoarder/collector a year later when the police found them and returned them to Marcus. The relevant point is that professional thieves may take gold nuggets or gem crystals for the purpose of resale, but when less valuable specimens like zeolites (ie. not gemmy, and no precious metals content) are taken, they are relatively less likely to be offered for sale, and more likely to end up hidden away in the basement of - sadly - a thieving fellow collector.

My worry here is that we have not yet seen photos of the actual specimens taken, so everyone will be on the lookout for any generic icelandic zeolites for sale, and then some poor innocent with legitimate icelandic zeolites for sale at Munich next week will fall under suspicion and will wonder why people are pointng at him/her and whispering to each other.

22nd Oct 2009 16:42 BSTRob Woodside Manager

This is really bizarre. 500 pieces would take 25 to 50 flats to pack away and several hours to gather up. Getting them out of the country would not be simple. 500 pieces at $120,000 gives an average price of just under $250. per piece. I suspect that is the "insurance value" and doubt that the thief could recover more than a fraction of that value. So I doubt this was done for monetary gain. This all leads me to agree with Alfredo and points to some local zeolite fanatic quite familiar, and possibly angry, at the museum. Maybe even an inside job, but this is pure speculation and the kind of whispering that Alfredo warned against. I'm sure the local police are considering all these things and at this point the only positive thing is that the thief hopefully packed them well and they may be recovered intact. Collectors have a hard time keeping their mouths shut and that leads me to hope for a speedy recovery.

29th Oct 2009 15:51 GMTchristophe

Hi folks,

I've posted some pictures of the stolen specimens that Christa sent me on Geoforum. If you want to have a look at them, please use this link : www(dot)geoforum(dot)fr/index(dot)php?showtopic=14472&st=0


29th Oct 2009 16:56 GMTJolyon Ralph Founder

If they can send the photos here we could publish them further and more people will get to see them.

29th Oct 2009 19:04 GMTRock Currier Expert

Using a Chrome browser I could not open the page that shows the specimens.

29th Oct 2009 23:02 GMTRoger Lang Manager


don´t use Chrome ;-) .. good ol firefox will do .. i saw them without problems :-)



29th Oct 2009 23:04 GMTDavid Von Bargen Manager

I opened the site with a chrome browser

30th Oct 2009 16:26 GMTChristophe

Hello Jolyon,

I can forward you the zips of the pictures I received. Can I use the webmaster's address to do it (there are 7 zips each weighing about 7 MB) ?


6th Nov 2009 13:53 GMTKarsten Eig

The thiefs may try to get them out by boat or by the Norröna ferry via the faroes to Denmark. They would obviously risk customs inspections, but unless their car has caught attention, the police would have to inspect all large cars to find the minerals. May be they would smuggle the minerals out in small batches as well. But again, it would hardly be be worth it, economically, which could point to a more "mineralogical" motive.

Zeolites are abundant on Iceland, but the Teigarhorn is famous for special quality, especially the large crystals and the fanned large needle zeolites. There is therefore some hope that they will be reckognised if the thiefs try to sell them.
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