After years of reconstruction, the Czech National Museum in Prague is planning to reopen later in 2018 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia.
But first, they have a rather embarrassing situation to get through.
Some of the priceless gems contained in the Museum’s collection have turned out to actually be fakes, according to a recent audit.
Those include a 5-carat diamond and a 19-carat sapphire previously valued at tens of millions of crowns that have now been revealed to be worthless. The diamond is actually a piece of cut glass, and the sapphire is a synthetic.
“What we have here is still a sapphire, but it is not a natural stone as was documented when the museum acquired it for its collection in the 1970s. It was artificially created so it does not have the value we thought it did,” National Museum Director Ivo Macek told press, as reported by Radio Prague.
“It was acquired for 200 thousand crowns, and today it would have been worth tens of millions. And what we thought to be a 5-carat diamond was in fact plain glass given a diamond cutting.”
Only 400 of the Museum’s 5,000 gems have been inspected so far, and a number of other fakes have been detected. Half of the Museum’s collection of rubies are believed to be fake.
Examination of the other 4,600 gems is set to take place over the next two years, through 2020.
The National Museum in Prague and Czech police are also investigating how the fakes came to be in their possession, if they were acquired like that or replaced at some point over the years.
Moany of the gems in the Museum’s collection date back to around 40-50 years, during the communist regime.
“When you have a collection of 20 million artifacts then a certain fraction of them may prove to be problematic,”
These things happen. So we will push ahead with the audit and I think we may even organize an exhibition of fakes in this and other world museums when it is concluded in 2020.”