On 28 June 2022, a jeweller was robbed at the TEFAF art fair in Maastricht. Shortly before 11:30 am, four men purposefully approached the exhibition space of the London jeweller Symbolic & Chase (their name is mentioned by the newspaper “Aachener Nachrichten”). The perpetrators were all wearing suits and flat caps, but not masks. One of them abruptly began to strike a display case with a sledgehammer, the result of which is shown in photos shared by La Tribune de l’art on Twitter:
One man who witnessed the incident grabbed a vase to threaten the robber with, but when one of the accomplices pulled out a submachine gun, the bystanders immediately retreated.
Less than 30 seconds later, the robbers fled the Maastricht exhibition centre MECC, with the stolen jewellery, through the restaurant.
The dramatic scene was captured on a mobile phone video by Dutch news reporter Henrik-Willem Hofs, who happened to be on the scene.
“The TEFAF security procedures were activated immediately, and the police were on site within minutes. Nobody was injured,” writes TEFAF in a brief press release. “The fair’s stringent safety procedures were followed, and all visitors were successfully evacuated expeditiously.”
TEFAF was able to continue running from around 1 pm. Meanwhile, police announced that they were searching for the perpetrators with helicopters and a dog unit, causing road closures in the greater Maastricht area. Police arrested two of the alleged perpetrators, two Belgian men aged 22 and 26, on the A2 motorway running south of the King Willem Alexander tunnel. The other two men are still being pursued.
Regarding the stolen goods, the police have only stated that they are items of jewellery. We still do not know how the perpetrators were able to enter the fair site armed and carrying a sledgehammer.
The “Aachener Zeitung” recalls that there were also thefts at TEFAF in 2008, 2010 and 2011. However, there has never been a robbery as spectacular as this one in 2022, and it has left attendees and staff duly shocked.
For the past two years, TEFAF has had to forgo in-person events, and has been limited to online fairs. This year’s TEFAF event, running from 25 to 30 June 2022, is the first one held in person since the pandemic.
You can read more about the art fair on the official TEFAF website.
You can read our article about TEFAF’s new online model here.
Here is a report on the robbery published by the “Antiques Trade Gazette”.
There was also another armed robbery, this time with a machete, at the London & Midland Coin Fair in January; it was the first time this event had been held since the break imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.