Equipped with alarms and security cameras, Chateau de Fontainbleau, southeast of Paris, is a mixture of medieval stronghold, Renaissance palace and 21st Century security.

But that wasn’t enough to stop burglars who hurled chairs into glass display cases and made off with 15 pieces of priceless loot in about seven minutes, covering their tracks with fire extinguishers before the security guards arrived.

Listed as missing in the March 2015 heist were a trio of enamel chimera (mythical fire-breathing creatures, part lion and part snake), a Tibetan mandala and a crown from the king of Siam (now Thailand). The items were taken from the French castle’s China Museum, which was set up by Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III.

The crown was a gift from a delegation to France in the 1860s, but not all of the pieces in the museum were acquired under such pleasant circumstances.

Many pieces in Eugenie’s Asia collection were looted from China’s Old Summer Palace compound in 1860 during the Second Opium War. The story goes that, as the English and French armies were closing in on Peking (now Beijing), the Europeans sent out a group to negotiate a possible surrender on the part of the Chinese. The Westerners also sent a troop to secure the Old Summer Palace, also known as the Imperial Gardens and the Gardens of Perfect Brightness.

The surrender talks didn’t go to well. The French and English delegation was captured and tortured with a high mortality rate, and the British ordered the destruction and looting of the Old Summer Palace, torching many valuables in the process.

It wasn’t clear if any of the Old Palace loot was looted by the burglars in March.

Below are the Interpol descriptions of a few of the items taken from Chateau de Fontainbleau:

Pair of Chimeras
Type: SCULPTURE / STATUE / ONE IMAGINARY CREATURE
Period: 18TH CENTURY
Technics: SCULPTURE, STATUE / CARVED/THREE DIMENSIONAL, SCULPTURE, STATUE / POLYCHROME
Additional Information: PAIR OF REMOVABLE LION-LIKE CHIMERAS, ORIGIN CHINA
Materials: GOLD, BRONZE, ENAMEL

Mandala Box
Type: GOLD & SILVERWARE / JEWELLERY / BOX / OTHER
Period: 1736-1795 (QIANLONG)
Additional Information: ORIGIN CHINA. REPOUSSE AND FILIGRANE GOLD, CORAL, TURQUOISE AND PEARLS.
Height: 25 cm
Materials: GOLD, CORAL, PEARL, PRECIOUS AND SEMI-PRECIOUS STONE

Horse-Like Chimera
Type: SCULPTURE / STATUE / ONE IMAGINARY CREATURE
Period: 18TH CENTURY
Technics: SCULPTURE, STATUE / CARVED/THREE DIMENSIONAL, SCULPTURE, STATUE / POLYCHROME
Additional Information: ORIGIN: CHINA
Height: 43 cm
Width: 45 cm
Materials: ENAMEL, BRONZE, GOLD

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