ALL NEWS

Huge haul of treasure stolen in German castle vault heist

Nov 25, 2019, 2:23 PM
Dresden, Royal Palace, jewelry theft,...
The Green Vault at Dresden's Royal Palace, which is home to around 4000 precious objects made of ivory, gold, silver and jewels, was broken into at 5am early Monday. (Photo credit: Sebastian Kahnert/Getty Images)
(Photo credit: Sebastian Kahnert/Getty Images)
Originally Published: 25 NOV 19 08:53 ET
Updated: 25 NOV 19 15:18 ET

(CNN) — Thieves have stolen around 100 pieces of jewelry and priceless treasure in an audacious heist from a castle vault in the German city of Dresden.

Several criminals gained access Monday to the Green Vault, one of the largest collections of masterpieces in Europe, lifting artifacts of “immeasurable value,” according to Roland Woeller, a local politician.

This is an attack on the cultural identity of all Saxons and the state of Saxony,” Woeller added.

The vault features an astounding collection of historical jewelry and precious ornaments — from shimmering bowls carved out of crystal and agate to jeweled figurines and goblets fashioned from gilded ostrich eggs.

One of the most famous pieces of the collection, a 41-carat green diamond known as the Dresden Green, was not in the museum at the time. It is currently on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Police received a call at 4:59 a.m. from museum security on Monday, saying that a break-in was taking place, Dresden police president Jörg Kubiessa told reporters at a press conference.

“Two suspects were seen on CCTV,” Dresden police chief criminal director Volker Lange said, adding that others may also have been involved.

The footage was later released by the Saxony Police. It shows two people wearing dark clothes, moving quickly though the gallery using flashlights. One of them then uses an ax to break the glass — the video shows it takes the perpetrator at least nine hits before the glass breaks.

Lange said that after cutting through a grille and breaking a window, “the suspects came in … walked towards a glass vitrine, smashed it and left, they disappeared.”

A nearby electrical fire knocked out street lights in the area at around the time of the robbery. According a statement released later in the afternoon, the investigators were working on the assumption that the two incidents were related.

The police also said the burglars left the scene in an Audi A6. Lange said the police issued alerts and closed exits on the motorway. An identical car was set on fire in an underground garage in a different part of town shortly after the heist, police added.

Marion Ackermann, director of Dresden’s State Art Collection, said “incalculable” treasures dating back to the 18th century had been stolen from the vault.

She added that the treasures were owned by the state of Saxony and were not insured, which is standard for artifacts owned by the state.

The police has released images of some of the items that were stolen later on Monday. They include a string of pearls and various other pieces of jewelery and items containing diamonds and other gemstones.

Ackermann said the value of the heist was difficult to determine, because the work is considered unsellable. Among the pieces stolen were diamonds, pearls and rubies.

She said she hoped there would not be a market for the stolen pieces because the Green Vault’s treasures are so well known.

Christopher Marinello, the CEO of Art Recovery International, a law firm specializing in the recovery of stolen artworks, said in most art theft cases, the perpetrators come forward after the theft looking for ransom from an insurance company or a government.

“This narrative, however, shifts when we are dealing with gold and precious stones,” he said. “The gold can quickly be melted down and the stones re-cut to make them nearly unidentifiable.”

Ackermann said that the idea that the pieces could be broken up was “a horrible thought.”

But Marinello said the cultural value of the items might not matter to the criminals. “They are cold-hearted cultural barbarians who will steal from their own mother,” he said.

Ackermann added that security personnel monitor the museum 24 hours a day.

When asked why the security guards did not intervene to stop the thieves from fleeing the scene, she said the correct safety protocol was followed. “The guards are unarmed,” she said.

Police said they had no information as to whether the thieves had “insider knowledge,” but added they were investigating that possibility.

Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer tweeted that the heist meant all Saxons had been “robbed.”

“The valuables found here have been hard-won by the people of our Free State for many centuries,” Kretschmer wrote.

The collection housed in the Green Vault was established in the early 18th century by Augustus the Strong, ruler of Saxony. He worked to establish Dresden as a major center for the arts, inviting talented sculptors, goldsmiths and painters to take up residence and commissioned a series of magnificent rooms to showcase his valuables as a way of advertising the city’s cultural prominence in addition to its wealth.

The museum said it was closed Monday for “organizational reasons” and a special police commission has been established following the heist.

Ackermann said the museum was hoping to reopen later this week, but that it would depend on the police investigation.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

A woman wearing white sitting in front of a light box...
Michelle Lee

Winter blues: light therapy and lifestyle changes can help

SALT LAKE CITY – With the chilly weather and the shorter days, many people are prone to experience the winter blues. In the latest Let’s Get Moving with Maria podcast episode, host Maria Shilaos spoke with Dr. Jason Hunziker from the Huntsman Mental Health Institute about ways people can overcome the winter blues. Seasonal depression […]
24 hours ago
little cottonwood canyon pictured, avalanche risk there is high...
Devin Oldroyd

Backcountry skier dead after fatal fall in Little Cottonwood Canyon

A backcountry skier is dead after "tumbling a significant distance," according to the Unified Police Department. The incident occurred near Lisa Falls.
24 hours ago
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 03: Grammy trophies sit in the press room during the 64th Annual GRAMMY A...
Marianne Garvey, CNN

How to watch the 2023 Grammy Awards: Time, channels and more

The biggest night in music is here with the 65th Grammy Awards on Sunday. If you want to see Harry Styles, Lizzo and more perform, here's how to tune in.
24 hours ago
SLCPD cruiser...
Chandler Holt

SLCPD officer witnesses wrong-way drunk driver crash into embankment

At around 6:30 a.m. Sunday morning, an SLCPD officer witnessed a 2009 black Ford F-150 traveling at a high rate of speed in the wrong lane. 
24 hours ago
This photo purports to show the suspected Chinese balloon flying over Mills River, North Carolina, ...
Heather Chen and Wayne Chang, CNN

China says it ‘reserves the right’ to deal with ‘similar situations’ after US shoot down suspected spy balloon

China says it "reserves the right" to deal with "similar situations" following the United States' decision to shoot down its high-altitude balloon.
24 hours ago
In the golden age of space exploration we live in, cosmic revelations seem to occur more frequently...
Ashley Strickland, CNN

Cosmic seaplanes and self-growing bricks could help us explore other worlds

In the golden age of space exploration we live in, cosmic revelations seem to occur more frequently than ever before.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Huge haul of treasure stolen in German castle vault heist