I’ve Seen Disney's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Here’s What’s Inside.

I’ve Seen Disney’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Here’s What’s Inside.

I’ve Seen Disney’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Here’s What’s Inside. (Video) I’ve Seen Disney’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Here’s What’s Inside. (Video) Carlye Wisel February 28, 2019
For fans who have waited a lifetime to board the Millennium Falcon or be ushered through a Star Destroyer by an army of Stormtroopers, let me tell you first-hand: it’s real, it’s happening, and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.
Travel + Leisure was given a first look into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge , the forthcoming Star Wars -themed land opening at Disneyland Resort in summer 2019 and Walt Disney World Resort in fall 2019. As one of the first to walk the grounds, I can tell you how jaw-droppingly revolutionary it’s going to be once guests can finally step into a real Star Wars planet on the edge of the deep space. Courtesy of Disney Courtesy of Disney
Every bit of Black Spire Outpost, from an Ithorian shop owner to full-sized speeder ships to walkways covered in droid wheel “footprints,” lives up to the quality level of the films. When the Star Wars -themed land opens this summer in California and fall in Florida, you’ll not only feel what it’s like to wield a lightsaber and bring home a customized droid, but come face-to-face with the First Order, drink a blue milk, sip space-age cocktails in a cantina, see BB-8 in his full glory, and even pilot the Millennium Falcon — and that’s all without even leaving Disneyland or Disney’s Hollywood Studios .
From R-series droids to Dagobah-inspired cocktails, here’s every crazy and exciting situation, souvenir, and Sith artifact you’ll encounter once Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens at Disneyland Resort this summer and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Disney World Resort this fall: You can live like you’re a Star Wars character.
You won’t see Luke or Leia wandering around, as Galaxy’s Edge is set within current time, but you can explore Galaxy’s Edge as if you are them, building a real working droid from salvaged parts, attaching toy-sized creatures like Tauntauns to your shoulder, and hand-selecting a kyber crystal as you personalize a lightsaber. (I held one and they’re the real deal, complete with a hefty hilt base, spot-on sound effects, and glowing light from within a non-breakable plastic blade.) Pop your R-series droid into a backpack and watch as it reacts to things happening around you, or for a deeper level of interactivity, download the Play Disney Parks app which can translate languages, accomplish tasks, and interact with ships and screens throughout Galaxy’s Edge. The Millennium Falcon is unbelievable in person.
Prepare to be blown away, because Han Solo’s beloved ship is built to size and jaw-droppingly accurate. Disney’s Imagineers knew seeing the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy for the first time would be a pivotal moment for anyone visiting Star Wars : Galaxy’s Edge, and each detail of the 100-foot-long ship comes through at multiple vantage points. Like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty Castle, you won’t see the Millennium Falcon from the entrance, but when it does reveal itself it’s bound to give you chills. Though breathtaking at a distance — there’s even an outlook perched above that’ll guarantee picture-perfect Instagrams — gazing at it from up close through windows of the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run queue will tug at your heartstrings most. Courtesy of Disney And yes, you’ll get to pilot the ship.
Nothing compares to that first time the door slides open and you enter the Falcon’s cockpit, but it’s not the only part worth looking forward to. Disney developed a non-traditional queue for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run to provide an opportunity for budding Jedis to explore and take photos within the ship’s main guest quarters, saying “Chewie: we’re home” a dozen too many times and possibly taking in a quick game of Dejarik Holochess as well. (We’re told they’re “still perfecting” the hologram technology.)
Once it’s your turn to ride, you’ll enter the cockpit in groups of six where a time before you could pull a lever and launch into Hyperspace will be far in the past as you fly — really, truly fly — the Millennium Falcon as a pilot, gunner, or flight engineer. From bucket seats to paneled hallways, it all feels unfathomably real and identical to the somewhat reliable starship seen in so many Star Wars films. The Play Disney Parks app will even keep track of your performance on Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run for outcomes that will have an effect on your “reputation” later on Batuu , so doing well is more important than usual. (Good thing a single rider line makes repeat attempts a breeze.) This theme park planet is so much bigger than you’d expect.
Think of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge less like a new Disney theme park land and more like a park of its own. With winding pathways, unexpected turns, and sprawling greenery, it makes good use of its 14 acres; we walked for 90 minutes and I barely felt like I had a grasp on my surroundings, partly because the land is so chock full of experiences. Galaxy’s Edge is split into two sections — the woodsy Resistance Forest, where the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction is located, and Black Spire Outpost, the main trading port on planet Batuu — with worthy sights scattered throughout.
Instead of a main souvenir shop, there are a half-dozen individually themed locations, including a bustling souk modeled after markets in Marrakech and Istanbul with stalls selling creatures, toys, and otherworldly items. Same goes for food options, which will consist of a unique meat sandwich at the Ronto’s Roasters kiosk, quick-service meals at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, space snacks at Kat Saka’s Kettle, and Blue Milk stand and libations with atypical bar bites at Oga’s Cantina — the first public location to sell alcohol inside Disneyland . Courtesy of Disney Every Star Wars item you’ve ever wanted to buy will be for sale. (Seriously.)
Consider yourself warned, because, well, we’re all about to go broke. Not only will an array of incredibly impressive merchandise be exclusive to Star Wars : Galaxy’s Edge, but things you’ve never seen before — and never thought you would — will soon be sold at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
A C-3PO toy that complains if you pop his head off and reattach it the wrong way? They’ve got it. Squealing puffer pigs, Rathtars angrily coming to life, and mix-and-match Resistance costumes for kids and adults? Yes, yes, and yes. There will even be something for all budgets, from collectible “legacy lightsabers” of Shaak Ti, Ahsoka Tano, or Kylo Ren to Sith and Jedi holocrons and restraining bolt fridge magnets. From apparel indistinguishable from props used in the films to a toy droid of Star Tours captain-turned-cantina DJ R-3X that glides around and plays your music via smartphone, the merchandise we saw is revolutionary yet only a fifth of what will be offered, so dream big and start saving. Courtesy of Disney Courtesy of Disney Even though Galaxy’s Edge is brand new, it’s inherently Star Wars.
The planet Batuu and its Black Spire Outpost may seem unfamiliar now, but details of this edge-of-the-Outer-Rim trading post that fell by the wayside will make sense once you step foot inside Galaxy’s Edge, which is rooted in the deepest level of Star Wars storytelling. Set amidst towering 130-foot trunks inspired by Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park, it nods to different civilizations who have occupied this rustic land over time, whose combination of foreign etchings, carved symbols, and colorful minerals bursting from aged rock immediately resonate as Star Wars .
The alien voices you’ll hear overhead are actual conversations, droids will communicate to each other — as well as between ones you’ll make yourself — and a stirring new soundtrack from John Williams will be used throughout the attractions and land. Since everything is “in theme,” Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities will be helmed by an audio-animatronic Ithorian and diners can eat Kaadu ribs within cargo crates as even small spaces are packed with galactic surprises, like a row of interactive droids or a Dianoga beast popping out from within a water fountain cistern.
Black Spire Outpost will also be littered with recognizable ships, like a land speeder similar to Luke’s in “A New Hope” or one from Rey’s home planet of Jakuu. Not only that, but you’ll be plopped right in the midst of conflict with the First Order’s recent arrival, so you won’t just see a brand new assault-style TIE Fighter — you’ll hear Stormtroopers accost townsfolk who come too close to it. Actions like these will actually happen throughout the day, bringing various factions of the land and its real-world ethos to life. Courtesy of Disney You’ll see familiar faces … and then some.
Given that Star Wars : Galaxy’s Edge pulls from all ends of the Star Wars universe, characters and creatures from animation, film, and publishing will all appear throughout the theme park land. Rides will feature life-like Audio-Animatronics of BB-8, Nien Nunb, and Hondo Ohnaka, who will be rendered outside of animation for the very first time, and appearances from Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, and Kylo Ren throughout the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction.
Stormtroopers will appear en mass within one attraction, but you’ll see space beings wherever you go, like a 12-foot taxidermied Wampa inside Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities, a droid “cooking” meat at Ronto Roasters, or a Loth-Cat lounging inside the marketplace’s Creature Stall. There won’t be any traditional meet-and-greets, but plans to let visitors mingle with local smugglers within Oga’s Cantina or interact with characters on the fly are more than likely. (Though expected to be an integral part of the land, droids and outer rim visitors are likely to roam the land for interactions later on, once opening crowds settle down.) You May Like Sign Up for our Newsletter Receive exclusive travel deals, insider tips, inspiration, breaking news updates, and more.

United Methodist Church Won’t Affirm LGBTQIA+ People: Now What? | Patrick L Green

{COUNT} United Methodist Church Won’t Affirm LGBTQIA+ People: Now What? February 26, 2019 Patrick L Green Patheos Explore the world’s faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! Patheos has the views of the prevalent religions and spiritualities of the world. “Pride-8425” by Russell Reno. Some rights reserved. Released Under CC 2.0
“I can’t live without my baby! I don’t want to live without him!” My friend screamed. She buried herself into my shoulder. Her transgender son had killed himself. He couldn’t deal with his father’s rejection. His father was a Methodist. So was his mother.
On February 25, 2019, the United Methodist Church said her pain and his loss from this earth were the consequences of sin. The father is righteous in their eyes. Her baby is dead. And as I held my friend, I thanked a god I no longer believe in that it wasn’t my baby, my Dave. I felt horrible for that thought. When you have seen so much death of beautiful souls who were too lovely for the cruelty of this world, her living hell is my worst nightmare.
My friend gave me permission to tell this story, but I have been asked not to name them. Her son had this sweet smile that was a little sly. It always looked like he was plotting something. Sometimes I think he was. He was scheming of a future. He wanted to be a chef someday. That day never came. I asked her what she thought of the decision and the turmoil of the UMC. Her words to me were simple. “F*** the UMC. F*** my ex husband. They took him from me and now they s*** on his grave!”
So what did the United Methodist do this time? I wrote about their upcoming vote that just happened recently. It was right after I spent a day in Facebook jail for standing up to an anti trans UMC minister who accused me of child abuse for accepting my child and said my child is going to hell . As opposed to spending a lot of time on the details. I will simply say this. The United Methodist Church (A worldwide denomination and the second largest protestant church in the US) had a big meeting in St Louis. One of the things they met and voted about was something they do not have a right to vote about. The acceptance, affirmation, dignity and inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people. The vote did not go in favor of inclusion. The United Methodist Church is on the edge of breakup over this.
I am going to speak to those who support inclusion in a moment, but first a message to the victors. To Those Who Oppose Inclusion
To the UMC and people of faith who oppose LGBTQIA+ inclusion I hold you accountable. Your precious Wesleyan Quadrilateral lacks 2 sides. Those are reason and experience. All you have left to stand on is a warped view of scripture and a sick tradition of exclusion, denial of equality and death.
Is there a hell for children? Yes. You who oppose LGBTQIA+ inclusion have created it and children endure it daily in schools, churches, UMC run hospitals and families that cannot love unconditionally. The blood of children is on your hands! It is not a stain that will wash off your vestments easily.
Your deeds and thoughts do not live in a vacuum. You operate in the public square and as a parent of a child who has lost at least three friends to suicide and as a parent who comforted another parent who lost a child due to religious based Christian hate the public square is mine as well.
You celebrate that African Methodists will not take a knee to US Progressives . Here are some facts about Africa under Methodist Christian influence. In 33 of 54 countries in Africa being LGBTQIA+ is illegal. How many precious lives have been incarcerated, assaulted and murdered on a continent in which you hold multiple episcopal areas and conferences in 26 of those countries? In those countries your message uplifts these laws and this violence and also propagates the near epidemic proportions of the preventable HIV virus and AIDS. To the Methodists Who Stood For Inclusion “We’re Working On It” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
I do not know most of you. I do not know your stories. To those who have fought for inclusion and tried to do so within the rules of a rigged game, I genuinely appreciate you and I am sorry for your pain. I want you to know that here and now.
I also want you to know that some of my fondest child memories came from Sunday school in a Methodist Church. My grandparents and my dad were proud Methodists. When I served as a pastor, there was a time where I was fortunate to serve as president of my town’s clergy association. There were two UMC churches in our membership. I served long enough to see a few come and go as they were reassigned. They were all good men and women.
Now I need to dig into uncomfortable territory.
Look at the cartoon above drawn by my dear friend, David Hayward . You may not like this, but if you are a cisgender heterosexual person, this is not your story. This is the story of not only UMC LGBTQIA+ people, but LGTBQIA+ people all over the world. The above cartoon is a poignant description of what they have heard from you conference after conference, hearing after hearing, year after year and decade after decade. The last panel is how this story ended and will end for too many beautiful lives. You have a hard decision to make. I cannot and will not tell you what to do. But I implore you to no longer be the one who says, “Be patient. We are still working on it.”
It may be time to leave the UMC.
I chose the banner picture for this article with intention. Those beautiful people outside the church are marching with pride. Over the last five years my child has been out, I have been exposed to a lovely and vibrant community far more colorful than their flags. They are my friends, my family and my new congregation. I love them so much. Stop trying to invite them to the hell the Book of Discipline created. Stop telling them to be patient.
You will have to no longer be in that pen to do that. It’s time. I do not know what it looks like for you to stop saying we are working on it and say I am here now. Maybe you take part in a split and create something new. Truth be told, the UMC as it now exists has only been that way since 1968. It is not like they are at the Council of Nicea forming the church. Even the time of Wesley is a mere blip in church history. You can create a new and lovely blip.
There are other denominations that have open hearts and open minds. The Episcopal Church is the only one that never once failed to stand by me and my child. I am not a Christian anymore, but if I did believe in a god, I would think that would be a fine place to attend. Though the ELCA and the UCC have a little bit more growth to do, they have some good spaces to offer Methodist refugees for love.
Your path may even be outside the church walls where the lovelies are savoring life. I do not know. I do know this uncomfortable fact. You can no longer stay in that institution and tell the LGBTQIA+ people to be patient and say you are on their side and love them.
Time’s up. The time to love is now. You cannot serve two masters. You have to choose between love and the book of discipline. They no longer co exist.
Leaving may cost you job security, friends and even a pension. I sacrificed and lost a lot affirming my son. Despite the cost, I have no regrets. One Last Piece of Advice From an Ex Preacher “Rev Pat Green 2012”
Being an ally is a challenging path. You are going to make mistakes. You never know as much as you think you do. There will be humbling after humbling. You will need larger ears and smaller mouths. Those who are LGBTQIA+ have had a lifetime of pain and much of that has been delivered by the church and christianity in the name of Jesus.
When I was a progressive minister I spent too much time listening to other progressives and not enough time listening to the community I claimed to be an ally for. With good intentions I hurt the people I claimed to be helping.
Over the last two days, two people who are UMC (professionally) have hurt me. One even breached confidence. They could not deal with my anger and hurt. Nor could they handle the triggers. I forgive them both and still love them, but I trust them with my heart and my family’s truth less. Why do I bring this trivial matter up? They were spending more time defending themselves and progressives and less time listening to the source of this father’s pain.
When I was a progressive minister I did the same thing.
Be humble. Embrace beauty. Thank you for trying and thank you in advance for joining the parade of love that has existed all these years that you have been trying to create in the walls of a house of pain.
In closing. Know this. The pain I have is merely that of parent. And as a parent of an LGBTQIA+ young adult, I will never know the experience, hurt and pain they experience from rejection. And if you are a cisgender hetero person like me, neither will you. Never forget that as you move forward. Like This Column? Please Support It!
If you like what you read here and wish to support this work financially, I would appreciate it.
There are three ways you can support this. If you feel what I do here matters and want more, you can help by doing something rebellious. Pay for a free column! Buy Me A Coffee or go to . Become a Patreon: Patreon is a space where you can support writers and artists much the same way many do PBS and NPR. You can go to my patreon at and pledge monthly support for as long as you are able. One Time Gift: Feel free to go to my paypal at to make a one time gift. Include a mailing address if you wish. I will be happy to send a handwritten thank you card, postcard, or maybe even send you a small thank you.

How you could retire a millionaire by investing £78 a month

THANKS A MILLION How you could retire a millionaire by investing £78 a month
If you start saving from a young age, you could be a millionaire by the time you retire at 65 By Alice Grahns, Digital Consumer Reporter 28th February 2019, 12:20 pm Updated: 28th February 2019, 3:21 pm BECOMING a millionaire will seem like a distant dream for many, but by saving from a young age it could become a reality by the time you retire.
In fact, someone who starts investing £78 a month at the age of 22 would have more than £1million by the time they turn 65. 2 The later you start investing, the more you’ll have to put in to become a millionaire
This is based on an assumed return of 10 per cent per year after fees are considered, and that you increase your contributions in line with the long-term inflation target of two per cent, according to an analysis by investment platform AJ Bell.
Meanwhile, a 30-year-old would need to save an initial £174 a month to achieve millionaire status at the age of 65 while someone starting at the age of 37 would have to put aside £377 each month.
The best way to make it happen is by using the Lifetime Isa (Lisa) , as it offers a Government bonus of up to 25 per cent each year for those under 40, AJ Bell said.
It comes with a yearly £4,000 allowance so once that has been maxed out, investors should use a so-called stocks and shares Isa.
The maximum amount you can put away in an Isa for the current tax year is £20,000. Alamy 2 Investing is riskier than saving cash, but the returns are usually much better
The returns of a stock and shares Isa depend on the performance of the stock market, so be aware that you could actually lose money if share prices fall.
Also keep in mind that you’ll need to keep any returns in the account – an effect that’s known as compound interest because you’re effectively earning interest on your interest.
Investing is riskier than cash savings, but a cash saver would need to save until the age of 100 to become a millionaire, assuming a rate of 1.5 per cent a year, AJ Bell said.
The interest rate is one of best paying easy access savings accounts at the moment. See our top savings accounts guide for the best buys.
Laura Suter, personal finance analyst at AJ Bell, said that by saving from a young age, investors would benefit from compound growth over many years.
“As the example shows, the later you leave it the amount you need to start saving quickly ratchets up,” she said. How to start investing BEFORE investing you need to be aware of the risks, as unlike cash, what you save can go both up and down.
This means you can be left with less than what you started with.
And you’re not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) which covers cash up to £85,000 per financial institution.
There are of course ways to reduce the risk of investing – for example you could opt to invest in cheaper so-called “passive funds” that track the fortunes of various stock markets, such as the FTSE100 or FTSE All Share indices.
Investing in actively managed funds – that pool different types of investment together – is also less risky than just investing in individual companies, known as shares. This is because you’re spreading your risk across a range of companies or other types of investment, such as bonds or property.
Robo-investing – where a computer determines what you should invest in based on a questionnaire of your preferences – also comes with lower risk as it’s spreading your investments.
If you feel confident, you can start investing by setting up an account on an investment platform – a sort of supermarket of different investment products. And you can do all of this within a Stocks and Shares Isa wrapper. Do check the fees first.
If you’re unsure, you should always seek professional advice – you can use comparison services Unbiased or VouchedFor to find a suitable financial adviser.
“The beauty with Isas is that once money is in the account there is no income or capital gains tax to pay so they are a simple way to save for the long term,” she added.
“The money can be accessed at any time should you need it but if you can leave it untouched and be patient it is possible to turn yourself into an Isa millionaire.
“Investing in the stock market does involve risks but over the long term shares have delivered very strong investment returns compared to other types of investment.
“One of the most valuable things millennials have on their side is time. This enables them to take a very long-term view and know that they can sit tight when things get a bit bumpy and ride out any short-term market volatility.” More on money Over 3m on benefits and Universal Credit missing out on £1,200 Help to Save cash MAGICAL DEAL Disney store has a HUGE half price sale on baby and kids clothes YOU’RE KIDDING 93,000 parents on Universal Credit fail to claim back childcare costs BANKING BLOW Tesco Bank cuts current account rate from 3% to 1% – top banks revealed SLICE OF THE ACTION Pizza Hut fans could win a year’s supply of pizza NEED FOR SPEED You can soon cancel broadband contracts if speeds are less than promised

The Secrets of the World’s Greatest Art Thief | GQ

Culture The Secrets of the World’s Greatest Art Thief Stéphane Breitwieser robbed nearly 200 museums, amassed a collection of treasures worth more than $1.4 billion, and became perhaps the most prolific art thief in history. And as he reveals to GQ’s Michael Finkel, how Breitwieser managed to do all this is every bit as surprising as why. February 28, 2019 © RMN / Rèunion des Musèes Nationaux / Sleeping Shepherd by François Boucher
“Don’t worry about parking the car,” says the art thief. “Anywhere near the museum is fine.” When it comes to stealing from museums, Stéphane Breitwieser is virtually peerless. He is one of the most prolific and successful art thieves who have ever lived. Done right, his technique—daytime, no violence, performed like a magic trick, sometimes with guards in the room—never involves a dash to a getaway car. And done wrong, a parking spot is the least of his worries.
Just make sure to get there at lunchtime, Breitwieser stresses, when the visitors thin and the security staff rotates shorthanded to eat. Dress sharply, shoes to shirt, topped by a jacket that’s tailored a little too roomy, with a Swiss Army knife stashed in a pocket.
Be friendly at the front desk. Buy your ticket, say hello. Once inside, Breitwieser adds, it’s essential to focus. Note the flow of visitor traffic and memorize the exits. Count the guards. Are they sitting or patrolling? Check for security cameras and see if each has a wire—sometimes they’re fake.
When it comes to museum flooring, creaky old wood is ideal, so even with his back turned, Breitwieser can hear footsteps two rooms away. Carpeting is the worst. Here, at the Rubens House, in Antwerp, Belgium, it’s somewhere in between: marble. For this theft, Breitwieser has arrived with his girlfriend and frequent travel companion, Anne-Catherine Kleinklaus, who positions herself near the only doorway to a ground-floor exhibition room and coughs softly when anyone approaches.
The Rubens House in Antwerp. The site of one of Breitwieser’s more memorable heists. Mark Renders/Getty Images
The museum is the former home of Peter Paul Rubens, the great Flemish painter of the 1600s. Breitwieser isn’t interested in stealing a Rubens; his paintings tend to be extremely large or too overtly religious for Breitwieser’s taste. What sets Breitwieser apart from nearly every other art thief—it’s the trait, he believes, that has facilitated his prowess—is that he will steal only pieces that stir him emotionally. And he insists that he never sells any. Stealing art for money, he says, is stupid. Money can be made with far less risk. But stealing for love, Breitwieser knows, is ecstatic.
And this piece, right in front of him, is a marvel. He had discovered it during a visit to the museum two weeks previous. He wasn’t able to take it then, but its image blazed in his mind every time he sought sleep. This is why he’s returned; this has happened before. There will be no good rest until the object is his.
It’s an ivory sculpture of Adam and Eve, carved in 1627 by Georg Petel, a friend of Reubens’s, who, according to Breitwieser, gifted him the piece for his 50th birthday. The carving is a masterpiece, just ten inches tall but dazzlingly detailed, the first humans gazing at each other as they move to embrace, Eve’s hair scrolling down her back, the serpent coiled around the tree trunk behind them, and the unbitten apple, cheekily, in Adam’s hand, indicating his complicity in the fall of man, contrary to the book of Genesis. “It’s the most beautiful object I have ever seen,” says Breitwieser.
Georg Petel’s ivory sculpture of Adam and Eve, stolen from—and later returned to—the museum at the home of Peter Paul Rubens in Antwerp. Picasa
The ivory sculpture is sealed beneath a plexiglass dome fastened to a thick base, resting on an antique dresser. Breitwieser’s first objective is to remove the two screws that connect the dome and the base. There’s no camera here, and only one guard is in motion, poking her head in every few minutes.
The tourists, as usual, are the problem—too many of them, lingering. The room is filled with items Rubens had amassed during his lifetime, including marble busts of Roman philosophers, a terra-cotta sculpture of Hercules, and a scattering of 17th-century oil paintings. Advertisement
Patience is needed, but a moment soon comes when it’s just Kleinklaus and Breitwieser alone, and in an instant he unfolds the screwdriver from the Swiss Army knife and sets upon the plexiglass dome. Breitwieser is shorter than average and tousle-haired, with piercing blue eyes that, for all his stealth, are often animate with expression. He is lithe and coordinated, and uses athleticism and theater in his work. Maybe five seconds pass before Kleinklaus coughs and he vaults away from the carving, reverting to casual-art-gazing mode.
It’s a start. He has turned the first screw twice around. Each job is different; improvisation is crucial—rigid plans do not work during daytime thefts, when there are variables too numerous to preordain. During his previous trip to the museum, he had studied how the Adam and Eve was protected and had also spotted a convenient door, reserved for guards, that opened into the central courtyard and did not appear to have an alarm.
Over the course of ten minutes, progressing fitfully, Breitwieser removes the first screw and pockets it. He does not wear gloves, trading fingerprints for dexterity. The second screw takes equally as long.
Now he’s set. The security guard has already appeared three times, and at each check-in Breitwieser and Kleinklaus had stationed themselves in different spots. Still, the time elapsed in this room has reached his acceptable limit. There’s a group of visitors present, all using audio guides and studying a painting, and Breitwieser judges them appropriately distracted.
He nods to his girlfriend, who slips out of the room, then lifts the plexiglass dome and sets it carefully aside. He grasps the ivory and pushes it into the waistband of his pants, at the small of his back, adjusting his roomy jacket so the carving is covered. There’s a bit of a lump, but you’d have to be exceptionally observant to notice.
Then he strides off, moving with calculation but no obvious haste. He knows that the theft will swiftly be spotted. He’d left the plexiglass bell to the side—no need to waste precious seconds replacing it—and the guard will surely initiate an emergency response. Though not, he’s betting, quickly enough.
From the room with the ivory, the museum layout encourages visitors to ascend to the second floor, but Breitwieser pushes through the door he’d seen on his earlier trip, crosses the courtyard toward the main entrance, and walks past the front desk onto the streets of Antwerp. Kleinklaus rejoins him before they reach the car, a little Opel Tigra, and Breitwieser sets the ivory in the trunk and they drive slowly away, pausing at traffic lights on the route out of town.
Stéphane Breitwieser robbed nearly 200 museums to amass his secret art collection. CHRISTOPHE KARABA/EPA/REX/Shutterstock
Crossing international borders is stressful but low-risk. They travel from Belgium to Luxembourg to Germany to their home in France without incident, just another young, stylish couple out for a jaunt. It’s the first weekend of February 1997, and both are only 25 years old, though Breitwieser’s already been stealing art for a while.
The road trip ends at a modest steep-roofed house built amid the sprawl of Mulhouse, an industrial city in eastern France. The ivory might be worth a million dollars, but Breitwieser is broke. He does not have a steady job—when he is employed, it’s often as a waiter. His girlfriend works in a hospital as a nurse’s aide, and the couple live in his mother’s house. Their private space is on the top floor, an attic bedroom and small living area that Breitwieser always keeps locked.
They open the door now, cradling the ivory, and a wave of swirling colors seems to break over their heads as they step inside their fantasy world. The walls are lined with Renaissance paintings—portraits, landscapes, still lifes, allegories. There’s a bustling peasant scene by Dutch master Adriaen van Ostade, an idyllic pastoral by French luminary François Boucher, an open-winged bat by German genius Albrecht Dürer. A resplendent 16th-century wedding portrait, the bride’s dress threaded with pearls, by Lucas Cranach the Younger, may be worth more than all the houses on Breitwieser’s block put together, times two. Advertisement
In the center of the bedroom sits a grandiose canopied four-poster bed, draped with gold velour and red satin, surrounded by furniture stacked with riches. Silver goblets, silver platters, silver vases, silver bowls. A gold snuffbox once owned by Napoleon. A prayer book, lavishly illuminated, from the 1400s. Ornate battle weapons and rare musical instruments. Bronze miniatures and gilded teacups. Masterworks in enamel and marble and copper and brass. The hideaway shimmers with stolen treasure. “My Ali Baba’s cave,” Breitwieser calls it.
His hideaway shimmers with stolen treasure. “My Ali Baba’s cave,” he calls it.
Entering this place, every time, dizzies him with joy. He describes it as a sort of aesthetic rapture. Breitwieser sprawls on the bed, examining his new showpiece. The Adam and Eve ivory, after a four-century journey to arrive in his lair, appears more stunning than ever. It goes on the corner table, the first thing he sees when he opens his eyes.
During the week, while his girlfriend is working, he visits his local libraries. He learns everything he can about the ivory, the artist, his masters, his students. He takes detailed notes. He does this with nearly all his pieces—he gets attached to them. Back home, he meticulously cleans the carving, with soapy water and lemon, his thumb passing over the sculpture’s every nubbin and ridge.
But this is not enough. His love for the ivory doesn’t fade, that’s not fair to say—he just has room in his heart for a little more love. So he consults his art magazines and auction catalogs. The Zurich art fair is about to begin. He plots a route into Switzerland, avoiding tolls to save money, and early the next Saturday morning they’re back on the road.
Sibylle of Cleves by Lucas Cranach the Younger, thought to be worth roughly $4.8 million, was perhaps the most valuable piece in Breitwieser’s collection.
A still life of flowers by Jan van Kessel the Elder that was stolen from a village museum in Belgium, a country Breitwieser says attracted him “like a lover.”
All his life, inanimate objects have had the power to seduce him. “I get smitten,” Breitwieser says. Before artwork, it was stamps and coins and old postcards, which he’d purchased with pocket money. Later it was medieval pottery fragments he’d find near archaeological sites, free for the taking.
When he covets an object, says Breitwieser, he feels the emotional wallop of a coup de coeur —literally, a blow to the heart. There are just things that make him swoon. “Looking at something beautiful,” he explains, “I can’t help but weep. There are people who do not understand this, but I can cry for objects.”
His interactions with the world of the living were far less fulfilling. He never really understood his peers, or almost anyone else for that matter. Popular pastimes, like sports and video games, baffled him. He’s never had any interest in drinking or drugs. He could happily spend all day alone at a museum—his parents often dropped him off—or touring archaeological sites, of which there are dozens in the area where he grew up, but around others he was sometimes hotheaded and temperamental.
Breitwieser was born in 1971 in the Alsace region of northeastern France, where his family has deep roots. He speaks French and German and a little English. His father was a sales executive in Switzerland, just over the border, and his mother was a nurse. He’s an only child. The family, for most of his youth, was well-off, living in a grand house filled with elegant furniture—Louis XV armchairs, from the 1700s; Empire dressers, from the 1800s. His parents had hoped he’d become a lawyer, but he dropped out of university after a couple of years.
The Alsace region of France, where Breitwieser grew up, sits in the northeastern corner of the country, along the borders of Germany and Switzerland. Christophe Dumoulin/Getty Images
His first museum heist came shortly after a family crisis. When he was 22 years old, still living at home, his parents’ marriage ended explosively. His father left and took his possessions with him, and Breitwieser and his mother tumbled down the social ladder, re-settling in a smaller place, the antiques replaced by Ikea. Advertisement
Cushioning the trauma was a woman Breitwieser met through an acquaintance, a fellow archeology buff. Anne-Catherine Kleinklaus was the same age as Breitwieser, and similarly introverted, with a kindred sense of curiosity and adventure. She had a sly smile and an irresistible pixie cut. They shared a passion for museums, thrilled to be immersed in beauty. Breitwieser finally experienced a coup de coeur for an actual person. “I loved her right away,” he says. Soon after Breitwieser’s father departed, Kleinklaus moved in.
A few months later, the couple were visiting a museum in the French village of Thann when Breitwieser spotted an antique pistol. His first thought, he recalls, was that he should already own something like this. Breitwieser’s father had collected old weapons but had taken them when he’d left the family, not bothering to leave a single piece for his son. The firearm, exhibited in a glass case on the museum’s second floor, was hand-carved around 1730. It was far nicer than anything his father had owned.
He felt an urge to possess it. The museum was small, no security guard or alarm system, just a volunteer at the entrance booth. The display case itself, Breitwieser noted, was partially open. He was wearing a backpack and could easily hide the pistol in there.
One must resist temptation, he knew. It even says so in the Bible, not that he was particularly religious. What our heart really wants, we must often deny. Maybe this is why so many people seem conflicted and miserable—we are taught to be at constant war with ourselves. As if that were a virtue.
What would happen, he wondered, if he did not resist temptation? If, instead, he fed temptation and freed himself from society’s repressive restraints? He had no desire to physically harm anyone or so much as cause fright. He contemplated the flintlock pistol and whispered a few of these thoughts to his girlfriend.
Anne-Catherine Kleinklaus has never spoken to the media about her relationship with Breitwieser and any possible role in the crimes, and neither has Breitwieser’s mother, Mireille Stengel. Though there exist supporting documents and reported accounts, much of this story is based primarily on interviews with Breitwieser. While he was in the museum, in front of the pistol, Kleinklaus’s response, the way Breitwieser remembers it, made him believe that they were destined to be together.
“Go ahead,” she said. “Take it.” So he did.
From that moment on, he catered to his impulses in an unimaginable way. His only goal was to obey temptation. By the time he pilfers the Adam and Eve ivory, three years after stealing the pistol, he’s amassed some 100 objects, all on display in his hideout. He is ecstatic beyond measure, cosseted like a king. He feels as though he and his girlfriend have discovered the meaning of life.
A curious thing about temptation, at least in Breitwieser’s case, is that it never seems to abate. If anything, the more he feeds it, the hungrier it gets. The weekend after the ivory theft in Belgium, Breitwieser and Kleinklaus drive through the snow-streaked Alps to the Zurich art fair. Behind a dealer’s back, quick as a cat, he steals a spectacular goblet, filigreed with silver and gold, from the 16th century.
Then they head to Holland for another fair, and at one booth, while the vendor is eating lunch and not keeping careful watch, Breitwieser takes a brilliant rendering of a lake bobbing with swans, dated 1620. At another booth, again with the dealer present, he removes a 17th-century seascape painted on copper.
A few weeks later, it’s back to Belgium, to a village museum with a single security guard, where he takes a valuable still life, butterflies flitting around a bouquet of tulips, by Flemish master Jan van Kessel the Elder. This is followed by a trip to a Paris auction, where, at the pre-sale show, he steals a painting from the school of Pieter Brueghel the Elder and Pieter Brueghel the Younger, two polestars of Renaissance art.
In the annals of art crime, it’s hard to find someone who has stolen from ten different places. By Breitwieser’s calculations, he’s nearing 200 thefts and 300 stolen objects.
Once again he returns to Belgium—a country whose museums, says Breitwieser, “attract me like a lover”—and filches a vivid tableau of a rural market, then over to Holland to snatch a droll 17th-century watercolor of house cats chasing hedgehogs, followed by a journey to the northern French city of Lille for another Renaissance oil work, and finally, for good measure, one more raid in Belgium. Advertisement
All of this in a matter of months. These paintings alone represent a haul worth millions of dollars. And it’s not just paintings—he also steals a gold-plated hourglass, a stained-glass windowpane, an iron alms box, a copper collection plate, a brass hunting bugle, a cavalry saber, a couple of daggers, a gilded ostrich egg, a wooden altarpiece, and a half-dozen pocket watches. Everything is crammed into the hideout, filling the walls top to bottom, overflowing the end tables, displayed in his closet’s shoe rack, leaning on chairs, stuffed under the bed.
The collection is not random. Virtually everything he steals was made before the Industrial Revolution, in an age when items were all still formed by hand; no machines stamped out parts. Everything finely crafted in this way, Breitwieser believes, from medical instruments to kitchenware, is its own little work of art, the hand of the master visible in each chisel mark and burr. This, to Breitwieser, was the height of human civilization.
Today the world is wed to mass production and efficiency, much to our benefit. But a side effect is that beauty for beauty’s sake seems increasingly quaint, and museums themselves, small ones especially, can have the whiff of the dying. Stocking pieces in his room, Breitwieser feels, is rescuing them, like pets from a shelter, giving them the love and attention they deserve.
The more he steals, the better he gets. He learns, with precision, the limits of a security camera’s vision. He hones his timing and perfects his composure. “You have to control your gestures, your words, your reflexes,” Breitwieser says. “You need a predatory instinct.” He pounces the instant he senses everyone’s attention is diverted. “The pleasure of having,” says Breitwieser, “is stronger than the fear of stealing.”
He tries to take only smaller pieces—with paintings, no more than about a foot by a foot—and if time allows, he prefers to remove the frame and hide it nearby, often in a bathroom, so the artwork disappears more completely beneath his jacket. He purchases new frames for most of the works. Sometimes he steals weapons, but he wouldn’t think of brandishing one. To walk into a museum with a gun, he says, is disgusting.
The set of thefts he describes as the most exquisite of his career are a study in simplicity and sangfroid. They take place in Belgium, his beloved target, at the vast Art & History Museum in Brussels, which Breitwieser estimates employs 150 guards. There he and Kleinklaus spot a partly empty display case, with a laminated card inside that reads “Objects removed for study.” Nothing in the case interests them, but Breitwieser has an idea and steals the card.
The Historical Museum of Mulhouse. Rieger Bertrand/Getty Images
Breitwieser understands how security guards think. At age 19, he was employed for a month as a guard at the Historical Museum of Mulhouse, near his home. Most guards, he realized, hardly notice the art on the walls—they look only at people. Breitwieser’s brashest thefts, like the Adam and Eve ivory, are spotted in minutes, but when he’s furtive, hours often pass, and sometimes days, before anyone realizes what’s happened.
In the Brussels Art & History Museum, he carries the “Objects removed” sign to a gallery with a display case of silver pieces from the 16th century. To break into this case, Breitwieser uses a screwdriver and levers the sliding door off its tracks. Other times, he carries a box cutter and slices open a silicone joint. For museums with antique display cabinets, he brings a ring of a dozen old skeleton keys he’s amassed—often one of his keys is able to tumble the lock. Also handy is a telescoping antenna, to nudge a ceiling-mounted security camera in a different direction. Advertisement
He selects three silver items, a drinking stein and two figurines; then he sets the “Objects removed” card in the case and re-attaches the sliding door, and they leave the museum. They’re already at the car before he realizes he’s forgotten the lid to the stein.
Breitwieser detests missing parts or any sign of restoration. The items in his collection must be original and complete. Kleinklaus knows this, says Breitwieser, and she abruptly removes one of her earrings and heads back to the museum, her boyfriend in tow. She marches up to a security guard and says she’s lost an earring and has a feeling she knows where it is. The couple are permitted back inside. They return to the case and he takes the stein’s lid and, why not, two additional goblets from another case.
Two weeks later, they’re back. Kleinklaus has changed her hairstyle, and Breitwieser has grown out his beard and added a pair of glasses and a baseball cap. At the display case, the “Objects removed” card still there, he grabs four more items, including a two-foot-tall chalice so breathtakingly gorgeous that Breitwieser suspends his size-limitation preference and, with nowhere else to put it, stuffs the item up the left sleeve of his jacket, forcing him to walk unnaturally, his arm swinging stiffly like a soldier’s.
The sheer scale of the thefts is so far beyond that of nearly every other case as to be practically inconceivable.
On their way to the exit, they’re stopped by a guard. They feign calm, but Breitwieser has a terrible feeling that the end has come. The guard wants to see their entrance tickets. Breitwieser, unable to move his left arm, awkwardly reaches across his body with his right to fish the tickets from his left pocket. He wonders if the guard senses something amiss.
A guilty person would cower and try to leave, so Breitwieser boldly tells the guard that he’s heading to the museum café for lunch. The guard’s suspicion is defused, and the couple actually eat at the museum, Breitwieser’s arm held rigid the entire time.
They rent a cheap hotel room and wait two days and return yet again, newly disguised, and he steals four more pieces. That’s a total of 13, and such is their level of euphoria that on the drive home they can’t contain themselves and stop at an antiques gallery displaying an immense ancient urn, made of silver and gold, in the front window.
Breitwieser enters, and the dealer calls from atop a staircase that he’ll be right down, but by the time he descends no one is there. Nor is the urn. They return to France plunder-drunk and giddy, and for fun, Breitwieser recalls, Kleinklaus phones the gallery and asks how much the urn in the window costs. About $100,000, she’s told. “Madame,” says the dealer, “you really must see it.” He hasn’t yet noticed it’s gone.
Of course the police are after them. Investigations are opened after many of their thefts—witnesses questioned, sketches made. Yet no one’s ever quite sure what they saw. Breitwieser is videoed in action in a museum in France, but the images are grainy. The best the French authorities are able to deduce is that several times a year, in seemingly random places, a man and a woman steal art together; they envision the criminals as a retired couple, nowhere close to their actual age.
The couple themselves keep tabs on their peril by reading newspaper coverage of their crimes. Some articles mention that law enforcement is sure that a large network of international traffickers are systematically stealing. The authorities, much to Breitwieser’s satisfaction, seem to have no clue as to whom they are chasing—the sheer scale of the thefts is so far beyond that of nearly every other case as to be practically inconceivable. Advertisement
In the annals of art crime, it’s hard to find someone who has stolen from ten different places. By the time the calendar flips to 2000, by Breitwieser’s calculations, he’s nearing 200 separate thefts and 300 stolen objects. For six years, he’s averaged one theft every two weeks. One year, he is responsible for half of all paintings stolen from French museums.
By some combination of skill and luck, Breitwieser and Kleinklaus are doing everything right to avoid capture. They constantly shift the countries they target, alternating between rural and urban locations, large museums and small, while further mixing things up by stealing from churches, auction houses, and art fairs. They don’t kick down doors or cover their faces with masks—actions that would trigger a much greater police response. Crime works best, Breitwieser believes, when no one realizes it’s being committed.
Several times, he steals while they’re on a guided tour, then casually continues the tour while holding the item. At an art fair in Holland, Breitwieser hears a shout of “Thief!” and sees security guards tackle a man. It’s another burglar. Breitwieser takes advantage of the commotion and slips a painting under his coat.
There are, inevitably, several close calls. Once, Breitwieser accidentally shatters a glass display case. Another time, he returns to his car while holding sections of a 16th-century wooden altarpiece only to encounter a police officer in the process of giving him a parking ticket. While hiding the artwork beneath his jacket, he manages to persuade the officer to withdraw the ticket. Soon after a theft in France, roadblocks are set up on some of the routes leading from the museum, but Breitwieser and Kleinklaus manage to avoid being stopped.
Then they visit an art gallery in Lucerne, Switzerland. It’s a hot day, and Breitwieser is not wearing a jacket that he can use to hide a stolen object—and even worse, they are the gallery’s only visitors. The place is also directly across the street from a police station. Kleinklaus, according to Breitwieser, issues a warning. “Don’t do anything,” she says. “I don’t feel it, I’m telling you.”
But Breitwieser has spotted a 17th-century still life by Dutch painter Willem van Aelst that is simply too tempting. And it seems so easy to take. He puts the painting under his arm and walks out as casually as if he’s carrying a baguette. A gallery employee instantly spots the theft, accosts the couple outside the gallery, and escorts them across the street to the police. Breitwieser and Kleinklaus remain in custody overnight but manage to convince the authorities that this is the first time they’d ever stolen and that they are terribly, deeply sorry. They are released with hardly any punishment.
Rattled, the couple make a vow never to steal in Switzerland again and decide to take a break from thieving entirely. The respite lasts all of three weeks before Breitwieser, at an auction in Paris, steals a scene of a grape harvest by Flemish painter David Vinckboons. After that, he returns to stealing as frequently as before.
An art thief Breitwieser admires, he says, is Thomas Crown, from the two Thomas Crown Affair movies. But that’s fiction. Breitwieser is furious at nearly all actual art thieves, especially people like those who broke into Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990. The two thieves took 13 works worth a total of $500 million, but they used knives to slice some of the paintings from their frames. Breitwieser would never consider cutting out a painting—that, he says, is vandalism. He wouldn’t even roll up a canvas, an action that risks cracking the paint. “You roll up an old painting,” he says, “and you kill it.” Advertisement
About 50,000 artworks are stolen each year around the world, and according to the director of the London-based Art Loss Register, the most comprehensive database of stolen art, more than 99 percent of art thieves are motivated by profit rather than aesthetics. This is why art crimes are typically solved on the back end, when the thieves try to sell the work. But with Breitwieser, law enforcement’s chief strategy—poring over art-market data, waiting for the stolen items to reappear—is dead on arrival.
A notion had been building in Kleinhaus that perhaps there’s something more fulfilling than life as an outlaw and rooms filled with riches. She begins to feel suffocated.
Still, a multi-million-dollar collection of stolen art concealed in an attic bedroom in a middle-class suburb seems too extraordinary to remain secret forever. If just one friend found out, it’s inevitable others would learn and the game would be finished.
Breitwieser and Kleinklaus, though, have no friends. “I’ve always been a loner,” he says. “I don’t want any friends.” Kleinklaus, he claims, feels the same. They occasionally spend time with acquaintances but never invite anyone over. If repairs are needed in his room, he does them himself. Nobody is allowed to enter, ever, except him and his girlfriend. “We lived in a closed universe,” Breitwieser says.
They’re both nearing 30 years old when their universe starts to crumble. A notion had been building in Kleinklaus ever since the night they spent in police custody in Switzerland—that perhaps there’s something more fulfilling than life as an outlaw and rooms filled with riches. She’d like to start a family. But not, she realizes, with the man she’s been dating for almost a decade. There is no option for a child in their conscribed existence. They could be arrested at any minute; they can’t even entertain visitors. She begins to feel suffocated.
Breitwieser, meanwhile, says he feels “invincible.” Tension between the two intensifies, ugly fights erupt, and Breitwieser starts stealing alone. Any restraining influences Kleinklaus once provided are shed. From a village church not far from their house, he unbolts an enormous wooden carving of the Madonna and Child, weighing 150 pounds, and hauls it away, one strained step at a time, without the slightest attempt at stealth. If anyone had entered the church during the theft, he’d have been caught.
Later, in February 2001, at a hilltop castle, he removes a monumental 17th-century tapestry, larger than ten feet by ten feet, assuming ridiculous risk to steal it. There’s no room in their lair for a trophy this size—it’s left rolled up on a dresser—but Breitwieser tells his girlfriend they’ll display it as soon as they are free of his mother and residing in a place of their own. By this point, Kleinklaus knows it’s a fantasy. Living amid a mountain of stolen art, no matter where, can never offer true freedom at all.
After the police had taken their fingerprints in Switzerland, Breitwieser says, Kleinklaus fears that the prints are now filed in every nation’s database. Even if she leaves him, she’ll be hunted forever. What will they ever do with all this stuff? What’s the endgame? She wants him to quit, but he doesn’t even agree to abate. The best deal she can wrangle is a sworn promise that from now on, when stealing, he’ll always wear surgical gloves, which she’ll bring home from her job at the hospital. There is no endgame, Breitwieser says. He plans to keep going and going.
Albrecht Dürer’s gouache of a bat, which dates to 1522, was a prominent component of Breitwieser’s illicit collection. Copyright:
He returns from another thieving trip with a little curled bugle, dated from the 1580s, once used by hunters on horseback to communicate. It was a stylish theft, Breitwieser balancing atop a radiator to cut open a display case high on the wall, then delicately snipping the nylon cords holding the bugle in place. Kleinklaus is unimpressed. They already have one like it. Advertisement
“Did you wear gloves?” she asks, suspicious.
“I’m really sorry,” he says.
The one thing she’d been promised. Then she learns that he’d stolen the bugle in Switzerland, the one country where they’d vowed never to steal from again. He had even gone to a museum near Lucerne—the same city in which they’d been caught. They argue bitterly, and in the morning Breitwieser says he’ll go back to Switzerland and erase the prints.
Breitwieser says that this idea doesn’t work for Kleinklaus; she wants to go to the museum and clean the prints herself. It’s too risky for him. Breitwieser says that at least he should drive, and she consents.
They’re frosty to each other on the trip, but as they pull into the Richard Wagner Museum, housed in a country manor where the composer once lived, their spirits are buoyed. The one thing that can stir Breitwieser as much a magnificent artwork is a sublime sweep of nature, and this museum is on a lake cupped in the spiked mountains of Switzerland. He feels for a moment, as Kleinklaus opens her door, a handkerchief and a bottle of rubbing alcohol in her bag, that maybe they can again find their love.
“Stay in the car,” she pleads.
“I’m just going to take a little walk,” he says. “Don’t worry.” And he, too, gets out, handing her the car keys to hold in her purse.
She enters the museum, pays the entry fee, and walks up to the second floor. Breitwieser, circling around the outside of the building, watches her progress as she appears in one window, then another. There’s only one other person around, an older man walking a dog, who seems to stare curiously at Breitwieser before moving away.
A few minutes later, Kleinklaus exits the museum. She walks quickly toward him, nearly jogging, which is odd. They never wanted to appear as if they were fleeing. He has the impression that she’s attempting to tell him something, but she is too far away to hear. He tries to decipher the anxious expression on her face as the police car pulls to a stop behind him. Two officers approach, handcuff Breitwieser, who is startled but doesn’t resist, and place him in the back seat of the squad car and drive off.
The Richard Wagner Museum in Lucerne, Switzerland, where Breitwieser was taken into custody. Martin Siepmann/Getty Images
He spends that night, November 20, 2001, in jail, and the next morning the interrogation begins. At the start of the questioning, says Breitwieser, he denied everything. After all, he didn’t have any stolen items on him when he was arrested. But both the cashier at the museum and the dog walker who’d been on the grounds, says Breitwieser, have provided formal statements to the police.
The dog walker, a retired journalist, had read in that morning’s paper about the Richard Wagner Museum theft, and when he saw a man there acting oddly, he went inside and mentioned it to the cashier. She looked out the window. The day the bugle was stolen, a total of three visitors had come to the museum, and this, she was certain, was one of them. He was wearing the same jacket. So she called the police. No one realized that Kleinklaus, who had overheard the conversation and was trying to warn him, had traveled with Breitwieser, and she was able to drive off in her car unnoticed.
Breitwieser realizes that to wriggle free from this jam, he needs to ensure that the authorities do not find out who he really is or send anyone to search his home. He tells the police that he’d come to Switzerland by train, alone, and admits to stealing the bugle. He explains, sorrowfully, that he is short of money and just wanted a nice Christmas gift for his mother. He has no idea, he adds, that the bugle is valuable; he was only attracted to it because of how shiny it was.
A passerby notices a shimmer in the water. He returns with a rake and finds a gold-plated chalice. When the police drain the canal, they discover objects likely worth millions.
In the course of his conversation with the officers, he learns that the police never even considered dusting for prints. Advertisement
Days drip by, then weeks, as he waits alone in his cell, worry mounting. He’s not permitted to make phone calls, and he has the impression, he says, that the entire world has abandoned him. No one will give him any news.
What’s happened is that the police have uncovered the report of Breitwieser’s previous brush with the law in Switzerland. This was very intriguing. They’d at first assumed that Breitwieser was nothing more than a small-time thief who’d hoped to make an easy profit from a lightly guarded museum. Could he be something more?
Swiss authorities pursue an international search warrant for Breitwieser’s residence in France. It takes a while to complete the warrant, but four weeks after his arrest, it’s ready. A group of French and Swiss officers arrive at the house, hoping to find the bugle, and perhaps more. Breitwieser’s mother is there and says she has no idea what they’re talking about.
The officers enter the house, climb the stairs to the hidden lair, and open the door. And there, inside, they see no hunting bugle, no silver objects, no Renaissance paintings, no musical instruments. Not so much as the trace of a picture hook. Nothing but clean, empty walls surrounding a lovely four-poster bed.
Breitwieser remains in jail, knowing nothing. No one visits or writes. Christmas comes and goes without even a holiday card. He feels sick; he cries frequently. He has admitted to only the theft of the bugle, but he knows that he’s close to breaking.
Soon after New Year’s Day 2002, he is escorted from his cell and seated in an interrogation room, across the desk from a Swiss police lieutenant named Roland Meier. The officer opens a drawer, removes a single photo, and places it in front of Breitwieser. It’s of a large commemorative medal that he had stolen from a different Swiss museum, a week before he’d taken the bugle. Breitwieser had imagined it could serve as a good-luck charm. The medal appears a little rusty and worn, and Breitwieser wonders what happened to it.
“We know you also stole this,” says Lieutenant Meier. “Tell us, and after that everything will be okay. We’ll let you go home.”
Breitwieser swiftly confesses.
Just one more thing, says Lieutenant Meier, opening the drawer again and placing another photo before Breitwieser. This one is of a golden snuffbox, also slightly oxidized.
Breitwieser confesses to taking it as well.
And then, according to Breitwieser’s version of these events, the officer pulls out a huge stack of photos, and Breitwieser realizes it’s checkmate. There are pictures of an ivory flute from Denmark, an enameled goblet from Germany, silver pieces from Belgium, and even the very first item he stole, nearly eight years before—the flint-lock pistol from France.
He confesses to every one of them, providing details and dates. When the stack of photos is exhausted, he’s admitted to stealing 140 objects. The lieutenant is staggered—he’d doubted this kid had stolen a single one of the items, let alone all of them.
Only now does Breitwieser see the police report that accompanied the photos. At the top it says “Objects found in the Rhone-Rhine Canal.” He’s confused. The canal, part of the system built under Napoleon to connect the rivers of France, is a murky, slow-moving waterway not far from his home.
Then he realizes why the pieces seemed discolored—they must have been rescued from water. One more thing dawns on him as well. There were no photos of any paintings he stole. “What about the paintings?” he asks the lieutenant. And it’s only then that he starts to find out. Advertisement
In a partially-drained section of the Rhone-Rhine Canal, crews search for stolen artwork that had been tossed into the murky water. Cedric Joubert/AP
What happened exactly remains a mystery. And because Breitwieser’s mother and girlfriend have never talked to the media, the details may never be fully revealed. Breitwieser himself, though, has learned as much as he can, and combining his insights with police investigations and interviews, it’s possible for him to piece together the events as he believes they may have occurred. Some specifics are lacking, and the precise time line is hazy, but not the result. The end, Breitwieser says, is always the same.
He envisions his girlfriend driving back from Switzerland, alone in the car, terrified. She’s just witnessed his arrest and has not been caught herself. At least not yet. When she gets home, Breitwieser suspects, she tells his mother at least some part of the truth about the extent of the crimes. The fact that Breitwieser is in custody means the authorities will surely soon arrive and probably arrest both of them as well.
He aches for what he once was—“a master of the world,” as he puts it—and he weeps for what will never be again. The paintings especially. But also the sheer thrill of it.
It’s now, Breitwieser presumes, that his girlfriend takes his mother upstairs to their hideout. When Breitwieser visualizes his treasures through his mother’s eyes, they look different. She’s not spellbound by color or entranced by beauty. His mother works full-time to house and feed her 30-year-old unemployed son and his girlfriend, and he’s repaid her by breaking the law in a way that will likely ruin her life.
To her, his treasure is poison. She’s always had a temper, and his mother’s reaction, he’s sure, is a boiling rage. Once she decides something, there’s no bending her will. “She’s like a wall,” Breitwieser says. And she makes a decision now, one of finality and force.
It likely began that evening. First, Breitwieser thinks, his mother and possibly his girlfriend clear off the furniture, empty the closet, and collect everything under the bed. It’s all piled in bags and boxes, then carried downstairs and crammed into his mother’s car until the vehicle is completely full.
It must be very late, Breitwieser believes, when they drive to the canal. They go to a spot where the waterway runs plumb straight through a quiet, rural area, bordered on both sides by sheltering trees, the trail alongside it often busy by day with cyclists and joggers. The two women, Breitwieser thinks, then toss piece after piece into the dark water. Even in these panicked, angry actions, Breitwieser sees a filament of love—his mother, in some way, is trying to protect him, to hide what he’s done.
Some pieces aren’t thrown far enough from shore, and a few days later a passerby notices an intriguing shimmer in the water. He returns with a rake and finds a gold-plated chalice. Then he rakes out three more pieces of silver and a jewel-handled dagger. He tells the police, and they eventually drain a section of the canal and discover a collection of objects likely worth millions.
Back at Breitwieser’s house, probably the same night as the canal dump, his mother and perhaps his girlfriend again load the car, possibly this time with the bigger items, including the heavy Madonna and Child, the tapestry, and three paintings on copper panels. The Madonna and Child is deposited in front of a local church—his mother is observant—while the tapestry is discarded aside a road and the coppers are tossed into a wooded area.
All these items are eventually recovered. A passing motorist spots the tapestry and turns it in to the local police, who are not aware of its significance and unfurl it on the floor of their break room and play billiards on it for a while. The three 17th-century coppers are found by a logger, who brings them home and hammers them onto the roof of his henhouse, which had been leaking. They remain there until Breitwieser’s story hits the news. Advertisement
The paintings, Breitwieser believes, were the final step. His Renaissance paintings formed the heart of his collection and represented the majority of its value. Breitwieser is sure that as the pictures are pulled from the walls, Kleinklaus is in shock—all he’d wanted to do was protect them from an uncaring planet—but his mother, he knows, is unstoppable. Later his mother will purchase putty and wall paint to cover the holes, and she will also throw away everything else in the rooms, including his clothing and books. But for now his mother drives all the paintings to a secluded area.
She creates a big pile, Breitwieser imagines, the portraits and still lifes and landscapes all jumbled, the luminaries of Renaissance art—Cranach, Brueghel, Teniers, Dürer, van Kessel, Dou—gathered as one. Every piece has survived some 300 years, through Europe’s bloody centuries, carrying its singular image to the world. Sixty-six paintings in total. In a haphazard heap.
A lighter is sparked and the flames rise, slowly at first and then wildly, oil paint bubbling, picture frames crackling, the great mass burning and burning until there’s almost nothing left but ash.
After that, what does anything matter?
Breitwieser is so shattered that he’s medicated and placed on suicide watch in the jail. Later he’s just numb. He is charged with theft and goes to trial twice, in Switzerland and in France, and serves a total of four years in prison, the punishment modest because no one has been physically injured, and the value of his loot, which some sources placed at over a billion dollars, didn’t affect the penalty—in the eyes of the law, there’s little difference between mass-produced baubles and Renaissance masterworks.
In prison he meets with several psychologists. He’s described in reports as an “arrogant” and “hypersensitive” man who believes he is “indispensable to humankind” but is never given a diagnosis and is not considered mentally ill at his trials. Because he specifically selected his loot, rather than randomly grabbing, and never displayed guilt about his actions, he doesn’t fit the criteria for being a kleptomaniac.
Breitwieser’s mother goes to trial for her role in destroying the works and is found guilty. She spends just a few months in jail. In court it was stated that she thought it was “just a bunch of junk” and that until her son’s arrest, she had no clue he’d been stealing. Breitwieser supports these claims, testifying that his mother is unfamiliar with the art world and that he told her he’d picked up trinkets at flea markets. Even though he’d shared a house with her, he’d made sure, he adds, to keep his mother mostly shut out of his life and completely shut out of his room.
Anne-Catherine Kleinklaus spends just a single night in jail. The story she tells the court strains credulity. She had no idea, she says, that her boyfriend was a thief. “I never played the role of the lookout,” she adds. “There were paintings and objects in his room, but nothing struck me as unusual.” Breitwieser, testifying at the trial, doesn’t contradict her, gallantly trying to protect her. If he can spare her some punishment, he will.
He believes his gesture may have worked, at least for her. She is never charged with destroying the art or convicted for direct involvement in the thefts, only for handling and knowledge of the stolen goods. Breitwieser realizes he’s still in love and writes her repeatedly from jail. She’s his last hope that something worthwhile will remain in his life. But there’s never a reply to his letters, and eventually he finds out why. Shortly after his arrest, Kleinklaus had started another relationship, and soon thereafter she was pregnant. By the time Breitwieser learns this, she’s the mother of a baby, and he vows never to see her again. Advertisement
He’s released from prison in 2005, and at the age of 33 he feels defeated. He had lived a hundred lifetimes while stealing, and now everything is colorless and dumb. He cuts trees for a while, he drives a delivery truck, he mops floors. The relationship with his mother is mended, though he rents a cheap apartment of his own.
As a result of his crimes, he says, he’s not permitted to enter a museum or any other place showing art. He muddles away a couple of years, the bare walls of his apartment a kind of slow-drip torture, until, as it must with a mania like his, the deep-seated desire breaks through.
He goes to Belgium, and at an antiques fair, he sees a landscape that slays him—three people strolling through a wintry forest, by one of his favorites, Pieter Brueghel the Younger. He doesn’t even try to stop himself and finds that his skills are still sharp.
With the painting hanging in his apartment, suddenly there’s joy in his life. “One beautiful piece,” he says, “makes everything different.” A relationship blooms with a woman he’s met, and he admits to her what he’s done. She seems to accept the one theft—and, he insists, it’s just this one theft—but when the romance ends, she informs the police, and Breitwieser is put in prison again.
By the time he gets out, he’s 41 years old, creases at his eyes and a hairline in retreat. He has an idea that he’ll launch a career as a museum-security consultant, but he’s the only one who doesn’t find this a joke. To hell with everyone, he thinks. “I can live on an island like Robinson Crusoe and it wouldn’t bother me,” he says. He eats lunch most days with his mother and then wanders alone in the woods.
The problem is that he knows exactly what he wants. Just one more sensual blast like the thump he felt every time he unlocked the door to his lair. But when he closes his eyes and tries to conjure the scene, all he can see is a fire.
Then one day in early 2018, he comes across a brochure for the Reubens House Museum. And there it is, like a slap in the face—a photo of the Adam and Eve ivory, the first thing he’d once regarded every morning. It had been thrown in the canal, but ivory is sturdy and it hadn’t been damaged. Now the piece is evidently back on display.
Just looking at the photo pries open some box inside him that he’d hoped had been forever sealed. He’s not sure if he ever wants to see the ivory again or if he has to run immediately to the museum. For more than a month, he fights an internal battle before deciding that he needs to go.
In 2018, Breitweiser returned to the Reubens House Museum in Belgium and came face-to-face with the Adam and Eve ivory sculpture that he had stolen two decades prior. The ivory had been recovered, undamaged, from the Rhone-Rhine Canal. Michael Finkel
He travels to Belgium, enters the Rubens House Museum, and heads to the rear gallery. And there it is, in the same spot, in a reinforced case. Twenty-one years have elapsed since he’d stolen it, but the ivory’s power to enchant is unlimited. Breitwieser leans forward, knees bent, so that his face is directly in front of the carving. His eyes widen, his forehead scrunches—the look on his face a jumble of awe and distress. An electric intensity seems to build in him until it appears as if he’s ready to combust.
He doesn’t want to make a scene in the gallery, so he hurries out to the museum’s courtyard. The air is warm, spring is coming. He shuffles foot to foot on the pale cobblestones; the wisteria on the walls is just starting to bud. The last time he’d been here, the ivory was under his jacket. This time he stands with nothing at all, tears blurring his eyes, mourning the lost years of his life—not when he was stealing, but since he’s stopped. Advertisement
He says he only realizes now, in hindsight, what he couldn’t possibly have known then: His previous visit to this museum may have marked the high point of his entire life. The absolute pinnacle.
He aches for what he once was—“a master of the world,” as he puts it—and he weeps for what will never be again. The paintings especially. But also the sheer thrill of it. “Art has punished me,” he says.
Then he heads to the exit, through the gift shop, where the museum catalog is sold, with a photo of the ivory and a story of its theft. He has no cash—just to get here, he’d borrowed gas money from his mother—and out of habit he notes the positions of the cashier, the security guard, the customers. He checks to see if there are any security cameras. There aren’t. He picks up a copy of the catalog and walks discreetly out the door.
Just recently, in early February of 2019, Breitwieser was arrested yet again. French police had reportedly been suspicious for several years that Breitwieser had resumed stealing and searched his residence in northern France. There, French authorities allegedly discovered Roman coins and other objects that police say may have been taken from museums in France and Germany. Breitwieser is currently incarcerated, pending further investigation, and has yet to respond to these newest allegations.
Michael Finkel’s recent book, ‘The Stranger in the Woods,’ was a best-seller—and grew out of his GQ story, “ The Strange & Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit .”
A version of this story originally appeared in the March 2019 issue with the title “The Secrets Of The World’s Greatest Art Thief.”

The best Minecraft seeds for beautiful, amazing worlds

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Below, we’ve gathered a selection of the best Minecraft seeds, using a variety of great Minecraft resources across the internet. No two Minecraft runs are ever the same, which is the magic of the game. One minute you could be bombing it away from an army of the dead, the next you could be knee-deep in creepers ready to pop. But if you’re looking to add more structure to your next adventure, that’s where Minecraft seeds are super useful.
Seeds are, to put it simply, a string of numbers which control what spawns and where in Minecraft. Maybe you’re looking to venture off into a winter wasteland. Maybe you want to spawn with God-tier loot. Or, perhaps, you’re tired of the standard Minecraft survival challenge and want to mix things up a bit. How does spawning on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere sound?
The only thing you need to keep in mind when it comes to seeds is to make sure you’re running the correct version of Minecraft, otherwise your seed has a chance of not spawning exactly what you want.
Thankfully, it’s pretty painless to run legacy versions of Minecraft. All you need to do is open the launcher, click on “Launch Options” then “Add New.” From here you can name it, and below that is a drop-down box with all the previous editions. Just click on the one you need, head back to the “News” section, and load up the version you need.
If you’re getting back into Minecraft in 2019 and need tips and ways to get more from the game, don’t miss our list of essential Minecraft console commands and cheats , our round-up of the best Minecraft mods and the best Minecraft servers . We’ve also done a head-to-head of Minecraft for the Java and Windows 10 versions so you can find out which is best. Double shipwreck at spawn
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What’s better than coming across a desolate shipwreck? Finding two within spitting distance of each other, of course. If you fancy a wee break from searching the world in search of booty, this seed spawns you on a small island. Look to the left and you’ll find a floating ruined ship, and to the right, another one. What more could you ask for? Iceland
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Okay. So. Iceberg biomes are cool. Not only do they carry this weird foreboding feeling, but they’re great to build a home in. Who doesn’t want to live in an ice castle? What makes this seed so special is, like many seeds, you spawn on an island. Only with this seed, turn in any direction and all you see is ice spikes. You better think fast because surviving this seed isn’t going to be easy. Floating sheepwreck
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That sheep’s name is Clarence, and he’s here to sell you car insurance. Don’t buy anything from him. Sheep are notorious for lying.
Should you decide to avoid his great deals you’ll find yourself yet another neat little starter island, and, venture out some and you’ll come across a mostly submerged shipwreck that looks like it’s seen better days. Turtle power
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Teenage, standard, boring turtles. Teenage, standard, boring turtles. Teenage, standard, boring turtles. Turtles in a regular shell. Turtle power! Although raising your own turtle colony would be fun, there’s more than that to this seed.
As you’ve probably already spotted, just right of the spawn is a slightly buried ocean ruin. After you’ve looted up that one, head into the water for yet another ocean ruin to explore. Dive into the reefs
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It’s been said a million times already but it bears repeating: Minecraft can be beautiful, and since the introduction of coral, it’s never looked better. What this seed is all about is seeing the beauty that lurks beneath.
From the spawn, kick off your shoes and take a plunge. Just be sure to have your screencap key at the ready because this one’s quite the sightseeing diving adventure. Overpowered Loot and Water Village
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An ample village can make or break a run. This village in particular isn’t your usual wheat and wooden swords affair. Oh no. This village has a blacksmith forge which contains seven blocks of obsidian, nine steel ingots, two gold ingots, a steel helm and chestplate, a steel pickaxe, and a super-useful three diamonds. And better yet, it’s technically not classed as cheating. What’s not to love? Something’s Wrong
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I’ve gotta be honest with you, I have no idea what’s going on with this world. Why is there a mountain on top of a mountain? Why is the village built up that high? How are the villagers even able to reach their crops? Why is there a small shack on the side of the mountain to the right? Although that last one would make a pretty decent place to store your loot. Let’s see a skeleton try to snipe you up there.
To get this one working, just create a new world, input the seed, and turn amplified worlds on. You’ll spawn right near the village, meaning setting up before you go hunting should be a breeze. The Sunken Temple
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Sometimes Minecraft doesn’t spawn buildings as it should, which leads to exciting anomalies such as this one; a Temple that’s been reclaimed by the desert. Not only do you have a handy village next door, you’ll also be able to explore this submerged temple as you would any other. And for your troubles you’ll be treated to a wealth of emeralds, gold, a selection of golden apples, saddles, and horse armour, meaning you’ve got a kitted-out horse right out of the gate. Monstrously Massive Seaside Village
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Fancy moving to a seaside town with a gorgeous view? Then look no further! Villages often spawn in small groups. You may have seen images online of hundreds of villager houses smushed together. They’re fake, and in most cases, from a mod. In actual fact, getting multiple villages to spawn next to each other is really quite rare. That is, with the exception of this seed where an absolutely gigantic village has spawned just off the coast. Tiny Island and Ocean Monument
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Do you see it? Just to the right of the island, the shadowy structure below the water’s surface? If you’re looking to explore the depths and battle an Elder Guardian, then this is the seed for you. The island to the left of the Ocean Monument is pretty useful, too. It’s far enough away to avoid being cursed (and having your mining speed greatly reduced—URGH!), and it’s got a decent amount of space and materials to get you started. Plus there’s land a short swim away should you need any supplies. Commandeer Your Own Mansion
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Nothing beats charging headfirst into a mansion with the intention of besting every Illager (not to be confused with Villager) that moves. But finding a mansion in survival is no easy feat. It’ll take hours of scouring every forest hoping that one day you’ll come face-to-face with that foreboding wooden structure. So instead of wasting countless hours, how about you just type this seed in and spawn directly in front of the mansion? Live Life Above the Clouds
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Turn directly right from the spawn area and keep heading in that direction. You’ll eventually come to a host of islands, only they won’t be out at sea, they’ll be floating in the air like they’re being held up by some sort of invisible marionette. Magic, you say? Yeah, lets go with ‘magic’. As sky islands take a fair amount of time to build, this seed is great for those who want to skip the building part and head straight to building a new life up in the sky. Minecraft Mineshaft Spawn
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Who doesn’t love a good ravine? With this seed you’ll spawn just behind this whacking great big slice in the ground. But journey North of the spawn and that’s where the real fun begins. Around 100 metres away is a village. It’s a pretty standard affair—villagers shouting “Hurgh?” and getting stuck on even ground, you know, the usual—so just loot it and head to the well. Climb inside, mine straight down, and you’ll find yourself in an abandoned mineshaft that’s just begging to be explored. Spoopy Zombie Village
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Finding Survival too easy? Turn Minecraft into The Walking Dead and that’ll surely solve it. This seed puts the zombies front and centre. For some strange, unexplained reason, all that remains of this forgotten settlement are zombie villagers. Maybe the regular zombies didn’t like their prices, formed a union and rebelled? Who knows… Either way, it’s your job to sort this mess out. Just make sure you set the time to night (“/time set night”) before they all burn to smithereens in the sunlight. Flower Forest and Ice Plains
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The Ice Plains Spikes biome is a rare variant of the Tundra biome, featuring huge sculptural pillars of Packed Ice and, er… not a lot else, actually. It doesn’t half make a lovely backdrop though—which is why this seed is so spectacular. You spawn in a picturesque flower forest, the ocean lapping at one side and a frigid paradise skirting the other. The perfect setting for an Adventure Time tribute build, perhaps. Giant Floating Island feat. Ominous Abyss
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Paradisiacal islands are all well and good, but if you fancy something a little more existential, why not try this highly improbable seed? A gigantic grassy landmass hovers in the air with a flagrant disregard for the laws of physics, overlooking the dark, hopeless maw of a perversely alluring ravine… But before you go flinging yourself in in search of treasure, we should mention there’s a jungle temple just across the river. Slightly less drastic. Lava-filled Desert Mountain with Splash of Greenery
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Normally, I’d deem throwing all your favourite things into a blender and mixing them together madness (step away from your cat, please). With this particular seed, however, the Frankenstein fusion of biomes really works. A vast desert setting; an Extreme Hills mountain; a high-altitude forest; an inexplicably-lush base camp area; a village; a desert temple… It all comes together to produce endless potential for a variety of adventures.


  1. Andrew September 16, 2019
  2. ปั้มไลค์ September 16, 2019

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