Thieves Used an Axe and an Audi to Stage One of Europe’s Largest Museum Heists. Here Are 10 of the Priceless Treasures They Stole

The police have also released video footage of the thieves raiding the historic collection.

Breast Star of the Polish White Eagle Order (Brilliant Set). Made in Geneva/ Vienna between 1746 and 1749 of diamonds, rubies, gold, and silver. Green Vault, Dresden State Art Collections. Photo: Jürgen Karpinski
Breast Star of the Polish White Eagle Order (Brilliant Set). Made in Geneva/ Vienna between 1746 and 1749 of diamonds, rubies, gold, and silver. Green Vault, Dresden State Art Collections. Photo: Jürgen Karpinski

German police continue to hunt for the thieves who carried out an audacious raid on Dresden’s famous Green Vault. Ten Baroque-era jewels are confirmed missing from one Europe’s largest and most historic collections.

Although the thieves took fewer pieces than initially feared, the Dresden museum still fears jewels could be broken up.

Early on Monday morning, a pair of thieves used an axe to smash a vitrine that housed three groups of jewelry sets containing diamonds, pearls, and rubies dating back to the late 1700s. The missing jewels are some of the best-preserved jewelry pieces of their time. Several of them once belonged to Saxony’s 18th-century ruler, Augustus the Strong.

“The value of the pieces individually is not nearly as much as their historic value as ensembles,” the director of Dresden State Art Collection, Marion Ackermann, told a press conference yesterday afternoon. She said it was “awful” to imagine the pieces being broken or melted down, and sold as separate parts. “We hope that their international fame will preclude their being offered on the market,” Ackerman added. Police have released footage of the crime, hoping it will help track down the suspects.

The thieves entered the Green Vault through a small window via a ladder. After grabbing the jewels, they then sped off in a getaway car that was initially said to be a limousine, but which new reports describe as an Audi A6. Police were on the scene within five minutes of the alarm being raised by museum guards who spotted the thieves on security cameras. A fire at an electrical junction box near the museum meant that there were no street lights working during the time of the raid. Criminologists working on the case assume the events are related, according to a police report.

Germany’s culture minister Monika Grütters called the theft “appalling and shocking.” She said: “This robbery of pieces which define our identity as a nation of culture breaks our hearts.”

The Green Vault in Dresden houses one of the greatest collections of Baroque-era treasures in Europe. It seems that fewer objects may have been taken because the thieves were hampered by pieces being individually sewn into the displays.

Here are ten treasures are confirmed to be missing from the Green Vault, in a heist said to be valued at as much as $1 billion—which would make it Europe’s largest museum heist of all time.

Piece of the diamond rose set owned by Christian August (before 1747-1798). Produced in 1782-1789, Dresden [Saxony]. © SKD

Piece of the diamond rose set owned by Christian August (before 1747-98). Produced in 1782-89, Dresden, Saxony. © SKD

Epaulette (diamond rose set) Christian August Globig and August Gotthelf Globig. Dresden 1782-1789. Consists of 20 large and 216 small diamonds, as well as silver and gold. Green Vault, Dresden State Art Collections. Photo: Karpinski

Epaulette (diamond rose set), Christian August Globig and August Gotthelf Globig. Dresden 1782-89. Consists of 20 large and 216 small diamonds, as well as silver and gold. Green Vault, Dresden State Art Collections. Photo: Karpinski

Sword with sheath (diamond rose set). Owned by Christian August Globig (before 1747-1798). Manufactured in 1782-1789, Dresden. © SKD.

Sword with sheath (diamond rose set). Owned by Christian August Globig (before 1747-98). Manufactured 1782-89, Dresden. © SKD.

Jewel of the Polish White Eagle Order (Diamond Rose Set).

Jewel of the Polish White Eagle Order (Diamond Rose Set). © SKD.

Large chest bow from the jewellery of the queen. Owned by Christian August (before 1747-1798). Produced in 1782. © SKD

Large chest bow from the jewellery of the queen. Owned by Christian August (before 1747-98). Made in 1782. © SKD

Jewellery in palm form (brilliant set). Produced 1746, Vienna. © SKD

Jewellery in palm form (brilliant set). Produced 1746, Vienna. © SKD

Necklace made of 177 Saxon pearls. Manufactured in 1734-1937. © SK

Necklace made of 177 Saxon pearls. Manufactured in 1734-1937. © SKD.

Hairpiece in the shape of a sun. Owned by August Gotthelf (1769-1819) | Produced 1782-1807, Dresden [Saxony], Dresden, between 1782 and 1807 with 127 diamonds and silver. © SKD

Hairpiece in the shape of a sun with 127 diamonds and silver. Owned by August Gotthelf (1769-1819). Produced in Dresden, 1782-1807. © SKD.

Hairpiece in the shape of a crescent moon. Owned by August Gotthelf (1769-1819). Produced 1782-1807, Dresden. © SKD

Hairpiece in the shape of a crescent moon. Owned by August Gotthelf (1769-1819). Produced 1782-1807, Dresden. © SKD.


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