You’d hate to miss the forest for the little wooden chests. After all, one of the greatest missing treasures in all of Europe is – literally – the size of a room. Originally given to the Russian Czar Peter the Great as a sign of friendship with Prussia, the Amber Room was just what it sounds like: An 11-square-foot room where just about every inch was covered in precious, intricately carved amber. Today, it would be worth $142 million – that is, if anyone knew where it was. Despite the Russians’ valiant attempts to disguise the room behind wallpaper, the Nazis ended up finding and dismantling it during World War II.
What happened next is all speculation. Various first-and-second person accounts have placed it in an abandoned German min, in a torpedoed Nazi steamboat at the bottom of the Bering Sea, and – most ironically – burnt to cinders by the Allies during an air raid.
Whatever the case, most historians don’t expect the room to ever turn up intact. In 1997, however, German police did bust a man for trying to sell a jasper and onyx mosaic that has once been part of the Amber Room. The lead wasn’t particularly useful, though. It turned out that the man’s father had been part of the escort that brought the room from Russia nearly 60 years before and has swiped the piece then as a personal trophy. In April o 1997, the mosaic was returned to Russia.