Treasure stolen in German castle

a car parked on a city street: A police car stands in front of the cordoned off Royal Palace that houses the historic Green Vault (Gruenes Goelbe) in Dresden, eastern Germany on November 25, 2019, after it was broken into. - A state museum in Dresden containing billions of euros worth of baroque treasures has been robbed, police in Germany confirmed on November 25, 2019. The Green Vault at Dresden's Royal Palace, which is home to around 4000 precious objects made of ivory, gold, silver and jewels, was reportedly broken into at 5am on early morning. (Photo by Sebastian Kahnert / dpa / AFP) / Germany OUT (Photo by SEBASTIAN KAHNERT/dpa/AFP via Getty Images)
A police car

Thieves have stolen around 100 pieces of 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.

A handout photo from the police shows one of the stolen pieces.
Photo of the stolen pieces

Saxony Police A handout photo from the police shows one of the stolen pieces.

“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.

a close up of a decorated tree in a room: 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.
The Green Vault at Dresden’s Royal Palace

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.

It shows two people wearing dark clothes, moving quickly through 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 to a statement released later in the afternoon, the investigators were working on the assumption that the two incidents were related.

a large building: This undated photo shows the Jewelery Room of the Green Vault. The items were stolen from the display cases on the left.
Jewelry Room of the Green Vault.

This undated photo shows the Jewelry Room of the Green Vault.

A handout photo from the police shows one of the stolen pieces.
“Incalculable” treasures dating back to the 18th century

Saxony Police A handout photo from the police shows one of the stolen pieces.

They include a string of pearls and various other pieces of jewelry and items containing diamonds and other gemstones.

Among the pieces stolen were diamonds, pearls, and rubies.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

German Castle vault heist.