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Hidden riches: 10 sought-after treasures

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The Amber Room

The legendary Amber Room was an example of 18th century opulence, originally located in the Catherine Palace of Tsarskoye Selo near Saint Petersburg, Russia. It was crafted over more than a decade beginning in 1701 from more than six tons of amber panels backed by gold leaf and mirrors. Soon after its completion, it was given to Peter the Great. The results were a radiant chamber of abundant golden glow considered "the Eighth Wonder of the World." Experts estimate its value in today's dollars at $142 million.

Although an attempt was made to hide the valuable panels behind wallpaper during World War II, the famous room was looted by Nazis and removed to Konigsberg, Germany (now Kaliningrad). As World War II approached its end, the treasure went missing in the Allied bombing of Konigsberg. After that, conflicting rumors and theories arose as to the fate of the Amber Room. Many have searched for it, and there are a few books about the missing treasure, but only two elements from the room have ever been recovered: the remains of one Italian stone mosaic panel were found with the family of a soldier who helped pack up the Amber Room, and more mosaic remains were located in the basement of Konigsberg Castle, a site which was bombed out and has since been built over. The Amber Room has since been reconstructed (pictured here) in its original palace, beginning in 1979 and completed in 2003 at a cost of $11 million.


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