A German state museum with one of the biggest collection of baroque treasures in Europe has been raided by thieves.
The Green Vault at Dresden’s Royal Palace, which is home to around 4,000 precious objects made of ivory, gold, silver and jewels, was broken into early Monday morning, with the thieves getting away with what has been described as an ‘immeasurable worth’ of jewellery.
The media estimate the value of jewels taken to be 1 billion euros. If true, this would make it the biggest art theft since World War Two.
Two thieves were seen on camera entering through a window and later escaping in a vehicle. Police said there may be more people involved.
The thieves stole at least three priceless 18th-century jewellery sets, according to General Director of Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden Marion Ackermann. She said the material value was low, but the worth from its historic and cultural value was impossible to gauge.
The museum’s power supply was possibly sabotaged by a fire before the break-in. The responsible energy supplier confirmed the incident and said it was investigating if the two events were linked. Police said power failure plunged the entire area into darkness, making video analysis difficult.
The Green Vault is one of the oldest museums in Europe, having been founded by August the Strong, Elector of Saxony in 1723. It holds treasures including a 63.8cm figure of a Moor studded with emeralds and a 547.71-carat sapphire gifted by Tsar Peter I of Russia.
The museum is now made up of two sections, one historic and a newer part. It was the historic section, which contains around three-quarters of the museum’s treasures, that was broken into on Monday.
The theft is the second high-profile heist in Germany in recent years, after a 100kg, 24-carat giant gold coin was stolen from Berlin’s Bode Museum in 2017.