Unique 13th century reliquary is on display in Prague Castle Riding.
Nothing was known about the shrine until 1984, when an American named Danny Douglas approached the Czechoslovak embassy in Vienna with a most unusual offer: 250,000 dollars in return for an unspecified art object, hidden in Czechoslovakia.
The communist authorities were baffled at first, but then decided to play along. While holding negotiations, they launched “Operation Antiquity” in search of the mysterious object, eventually outwitting the American.
At the same time, an investigation was launched to make sure the object had not been stolen, or that it wasn’t something of great historical value.
The police searched for the object for more than a year. Some undercover officers even met with Mr Douglas, and got more clues out of him about the object’s location and size. But they still did not know what they were looking for.
Then they found a photo of the reliquary in a 1933 book, and therefore started searching in Bečov chateau.
There, police investigators finally found the shrine in November, 1985, hidden under the floor of the chapel. After the fall of communism, the casket underwent a thorough renovation which was only completed in 2002.
The reliquary was made in Belgium in the 13th century, where an aristocrat, named Beaufort-Spontin, bought it some 600 years later, and brought it to Bečov.
At the end of the Second World War, however, his descendants fled the estate which the authorities later confiscated as German property.
Members of the family took many of their riches with them, but they hid the shrine inside the chateau, hoping to return for it one day.