A general view shows people gathering by St. Peter's Basilica at St. Peter's square in The Vatican on February 28, 2021 to attend the Pope's weekly Angelus prayer from the window of the apostolic palace. (AFP / Tiziana Fabi)

Old photos circulated in false Facebook posts about 'gold bars seized in Vatican City'

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Five photos have been shared repeatedly in multiple Facebook posts in February 2021 alongside they show gold bars "confiscated" from an underground safe in Vatican City. The claim is false: the photos have circulated online in articles about gold bars in various countries since at least 2010. As of March 3, 2021, there have been no credible reports of gold bars being seized from Vatican City in February 2021.

The photos were here on Facebook on February 19, 2021.

"Gold bars confiscated from the vault in the Vatican -- the amount can be loaded on 700 aeroplanes," reads the Korean-language text superimposed on the image.

A screenshot of the misleading Facebook post taken on March 3, 2021

The post's caption translates as: "After 'praying', all cash is collected and gathered in the Vatican. And that cash is saved in the form of gold bars underground."

The same have been shared on Facebook here, here and here alongside a similar claim.

The claim is false. 

There have been no credible media reports of a recent gold heist at the Vatican. As of March 3, 2021, there has also been no mention of any such incident in the Vatican’s daily news bulletins from 2021.

Bank of England photo

Two images that show gold bars stacked on shelves were, in fact, taken at gold vaults in the Bank of England (BoE).

The first image on the top left was published here on the BoE website.

Screenshot of the BoE website, taken on February 22, 2021.

The second image was published here by Bloomberg on August 23, 2020.

The photo's caption, which includes a credit to BoE, reads: “Gold bullion in the vaults at the Bank of England.”

Screenshot of the Bloomberg article, captured on March 3, 2021.

Hungary gold

The photo in the bottom left-hand corner, which shows gold bars wrapped in green string, can be seen in this press release published by Hungary’s national bank Magyar Nemzeti Bank on October 16, 2018. 

“With the long-term national and economic strategic goals in mind, the Monetary Council of the Magyar Nemzeti Bank decided to significantly increase the country's gold reserves,” the statement reads.

Screenshot of the Magyar Nemzeti Bank website, taken on February 22, 2021.

Unrelated photos

The other two photos were taken from old, unrelated reports.

The image shown in the top right-hand corner of the post showing gold bars stacked on wooden shelves has appeared in news reports since at least 2010.

The image appeared in a GhanaWeb article published on August 15, 2010. It reports that gold exported from Ghana to the United Arab Emirates was found to be fake.

The image of gold stacks in the bottom right-hand corner of the misleading Facebook post is also an old photo that has circulated online since at least 2016.

The photo was published here by Croatian online newspaper Index.hr on October 3, 2016.

Screenshot of the website of Index.hr, captured on February 22, 2021.