Five-ton ‘Amber Room’ worth $30mn found in Russia

A $30 million treasure cave of solar stone, weighing nearly 5 tons, was unearthed by police behind a cellar in the Russian Baltic port of Kaliningrad.

“The storage contained 227 bags with amber weighing over 5.1 tons,” Russia’s Interior Ministry said in a statement. “Among the stones were those over 1.5 kilograms in weight.”

According to specialists, some of the items found are very rare and may cost nearly $100,000.

Police found the “Amber Room” in the cellar of a house in Yantarnoye village, Kaliningrad region. Police used axes to break the wall behind which a hidden place with semi-precious stones was located.

The amber operation was staged by police as they were investigating a fraud case centering on Kaliningrad amber baron Viktor Bogdan, who is currently on the international wanted list. The police believe that Bogdan might be related to the recent amber trove.

A police officer uses an ax to break the wall behind which a cache with amber is located. Screenshot from local police video, December 23, 2013, in Kaliningrad, Russia.

Kaliningrad, an isolated Russian Baltic exclave between Poland and Lithuania, is well known for being home to the world's richest underground deposits of Baltic amber, a specific subset of amber that is found only in northern Europe.

The Kaliningrad region holds over 90 percent (over 250,000 tons) of the world's supplies of amber and is the only Russian region where amber is produced from deposits.

However, in the amber-rich areas illegal mining is rife. Experts estimate that, alongside the legal extraction of 340 tons, between 60 and 100 tons of amber is mined illegally every year in the Kaliningrad region, according to RIA Novosti.

The local amber mafia controls many of the stone deposits. Hundreds of kilograms of high-quality amber are being exported on the black market.

In the last few years in the Kaliningrad region, many amber barons have been raided as part of a continuous criminal investigation into illegal export schemes.

Many of the items are very rare and could be worth up to $100,000 each. Screenshot from local police video, December 23, 2013, Kaliningrad, Russia.