Dresden Green Vault burglary
On 25 November 2019, royal jewellery was stolen from the Green Vault museum within Dresden Castle in Dresden, Saxony, Germany. The stolen items include the 49-carat Dresden White Diamond, the diamond-laden breast star of the Polish Order of the White Eagle which belonged to the King of Poland, a hat clasp with a 16-carat diamond, a diamond epaulette, and a diamond-studded hilt containing nine large and 770 smaller diamonds, along with a matching scabbard. The missing items were of great cultural value to the State of Saxony and were described as priceless; other sources estimate the total value at about €1 billion.
|Date||25 November 2019|
|Time||04:56 a.m CET (UTC+1)|
|Venue||The Green Vault, Dresden Castle|
|Location||Dresden, Saxony, Germany|
|Suspects||At least two unidentified individuals|
|Stolen value||€1 billion|
The burglary took place at the Green Vault (German: Grünes Gewölbe) in Dresden, Saxony, Germany, one of the oldest museums in Europe, founded in 1723 by Augustus II the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. At the time of the heist, it displayed about 4,000 items of jewellery and other treasures which were decorated with gold, silver, ivory, pearl, and other precious metals and stones. One of the museum's main treasures, the 41-carat Dresden Green Diamond, was away on loan at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.
|CCTV footage of the heist|
|See the 'Priceless' 18th-Century Jewels Stolen|
On 25 November 2019, at 4 a.m. a small fire was started on the nearby Augustus Bridge, which destroyed a power box. The resulting power outage disabled streetlights and security alarms, but CCTV continued to function. The thieves then cut through iron bars around a window to break into the museum's Jewel Room. According to police, the thieves must have been very small to fit through the hole. CCTV footage shows two thieves within the vaults. They smashed the glass displays with an axe to gain access to the jewellery.
The thieves removed three 18th-century jewellery sets consisting of 37 parts each, including diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. The thieves were not able to take all of the pieces from the three jewellery sets; some jewellery was sewn into the surface of the cabinet and those pieces remained. However, they also took the Dresden White Diamond worth €9–10 million. The thieves exited through the same window, replacing the bars in order to delay detection. The robbery was detected by the guards at 4:56 a.m. and 16 police cars were dispatched to the museum. Security guards stationed at the museum followed protocol after the heist was discovered and did not engage with the robbers, as the guards were unarmed; they instead notified police.
One of the stolen pieces was a small sword, described as an épée made of silver and gold with a hilt of nine large and seven hundred and seventy smaller diamonds. Another was a brooch-style jewel worn by Queen Amalie Auguste which featured at least six hundred and sixty gemstones. Police identified a jewelled Polish White Eagle Order and a diamond epaulette as among the items stolen. Also believed to be stolen was a diamond hat clasp comprising 15 large diamonds and more than 100 small ones, the largest being a 16-carat diamond, made in the 1780s and worn by Frederick Augustus III. An Order of the White Eagle breast star by the diamond-cutter Jean Jacques Pallard, made up of a 20-carat diamond at its centre and a Maltese cross of red rubies, was also taken.
The estimated total value of stolen items, according to Bild, was more than €1 billion (US$1.1 billion) which would make it the largest museum heist in history, surpassing the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum theft. According to NPR, the "material value seems to have fallen short of $1 billion". Marion Ackermann, director of Dresden State Art Collections, said that it was impossible to estimate the price of the stolen items due to their historic cultural value. Saxony's interior minister, Roland Wöller, also stated that the cultural loss "is impossible to estimate".
The first police car was called to the building at 4:59 a.m. arriving five minutes later, but by that time the suspects had escaped. The police set up roadblocks on the outskirts of Dresden in an attempt to prevent the suspects from leaving. However, according to police, the museum's proximity to the autobahn is likely to have helped the suspects' escape. The police believe there were four thieves and that they fled in an Audi A6; an identical vehicle was later found on fire in an underground parking lot. Police offered a €500,000 reward for information which could lead to the capture of the perpetrators.
Starting 12 December 2019, several German media outlets reported that police were investigating links to an Arab clan in Berlin. In March 2020, police revealed that at least 7 individuals were involved in the robbery. Also in March 2020, German prosecutors announced that they were investigating four security guards as likely culprits, as they failed to "react adequately". In November 2020, thousands of police raided 18 properties in Berlin, and arrested three suspects, all from a Lebanese migrant family, in connection with the heist. Police stated that they had linked the theft to an Arab crime syndicate which had also been involved in a 2017 theft from the Bode Museum which one of the arrested suspects had participated in. Also in November, they released the names of two men, Abdul Majed Remmo and Mohamed Remmo, who they believed had been involved. In December 2020, a fourth person was arrested in connection with the Green Vault burglary, a 21-year-old male.
It was feared that the thieves would alter the stolen works to sell them on the black market. Museum officials begged the thieves not to melt down any of the gold or otherwise harm the artefacts. The General Director of Dresden's state art collections told reporters that the stolen jewels could not be sold on the art market legally as they were too well known to collectors.
The museum reopened on 27 November, although the Green Vault remained closed.
- Chappell, Bill (25 November 2019). "Thieves Steal Priceless Diamonds In Heist At Dresden's 'Green Vault' Museum". NPR.org. Archived from the original on 26 November 2019. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
- "'Up to a billion euros' of jewels and antiques stolen from Dresden museum". www.thelocal.de. 25 November 2019. Archived from the original on 27 November 2019. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
- Connolly, Kate (25 November 2019). "Jewellery of 'immeasurable worth' stolen in dramatic Dresden museum heist". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 25 November 2019. Retrieved 25 November 2019 – via www.theguardian.com.
- "Thieves Steal Priceless Items from Dresden's Treasury Green Vault; Hiscox Comments". Insurance Journal. 26 November 2019. Archived from the original on 27 November 2019. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
- Jamie Ross (25 November 2019). "Billion-Dollar Art Heist: Thieves Cut Alarms With Fire at Dresden's Green Vault Palace". Daily Beast. Archived from the original on 25 November 2019. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
- "A Burnt-Out Car, a Bigger Gang, and No Insurance: New Details Emerge in the Frantic Hunt for Dresden's Treasure Thieves". artnet News. 28 November 2019. Archived from the original on 25 February 2020. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
- "Polizei Sachsen – Polizeidirektion Dresden – Einbruch in Historisches Grünes Gewölbe – Zeugen gesucht!". www.polizei.sachsen.de (in German). 25 November 2019. Archived from the original on 26 November 2019. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
- Holden, Kit (25 November 2019). "'Priceless' jewels snatched from German state museum". news.yahoo.com. Archived from the original on 26 November 2019. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
- "Priceless diamonds stolen in German museum raid". BBC. 25 November 2019. Archived from the original on 25 November 2019. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
- France-Presse, Agence (28 November 2019). "Police offer €500,000 reward over Dresden diamond heist". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 28 November 2019. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
- Angerer, Carlo; Elbaum, Rachel (25 November 2019). "Thieves target treasures at world-renowned Green Vault museum in Dresden, Germany". NBC News. Archived from the original on 26 November 2019. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
- Boucher, Ashley (25 November 2019). "Priceless Jewelry Stolen in German Castle Heist Leads to Manhunt in Dresden". PEOPLE.com. Archived from the original on 27 November 2019. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
- Givetash, Linda; Angerer, Carlo (28 November 2019). "49-carat diamond among nearly 20 jewels stolen in German museum heist". NBC News. Archived from the original on 29 November 2019. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
- Holland, Oscar (26 November 2019). "Dresden museum heist: What we know about the stolen jewels". CNN Style. Archived from the original on 1 December 2019. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
- "Thieves Stole Up to a Billion Dollars Worth of Jewels From Dresden's Famed Treasure Museum, Escaping in a Limousine". Artnet. 25 November 2019. Archived from the original on 27 November 2019. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
- Kate Connolly (25 November 2019). "Jewellery of 'immeasurable worth' stolen in dramatic Dresden museum heist". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 25 November 2019. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
- "Spuren aus dem Grünen Gewölbe führen in Berlins Clanmilieu". Welt. 12 December 2019. Archived from the original on 13 December 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
- "Grünes Gewölbe: Spektakulärer Juwelen-Raub in Dresden: Neue Spur führt ins Berliner Clan-Milieu". Focus. 11 December 2019. Archived from the original on 14 December 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
- "German police: At least 7 involved in Dresden jewelry theft". AP NEWS. 5 March 2020. Archived from the original on 6 March 2020. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
- "Security Guards Are Under Investigation as the $1 Billion Green Vault Heist in Dresden Increasingly Looks Like an Inside Job". artnet News. 9 March 2020. Archived from the original on 16 March 2020. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
- Connolly, Kate (9 March 2020). "Dresden palace guards investigated over alleged role in heist". Archived from the original on 10 March 2020. Retrieved 10 March 2020 – via www.theguardian.com.
- Durón, Maximilíano (17 November 2020). "Authorities Make Arrests in $1.2 B. Dresden Jewel Theft". ARTnews.com. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
- Durón, Maximilíano (15 December 2020). "Fourth Arrest Made in Connection with Dresden Jewelry Heist". ARTnews.com. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
- "Security Experts Say That Jewels Stolen From Dresden's Green Vault is an Audacious Heist Have Now Popped Up on the Dark Web". artnet News. 13 January 2020. Archived from the original on 14 January 2020. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
- Gearty, Robert (25 November 2019). "Dresden museum heist thieves steal $1.1 billion in 'priceless' jewels". Fox News. Archived from the original on 26 November 2019. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
- Brito, Christopher (25 November 2019). "Thieves steal jewelry reportedly worth more than $1 billion from German museum". www.cbsnews.com. Archived from the original on 25 November 2019. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
- Eddy, Melissa (27 November 2019). "Dresden Museum Partly Reopens After Jewelry Heist". Archived from the original on 29 November 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2020 – via NYTimes.com.
Media related to Dresdner Juwelendiebstahl at Wikimedia Commons