For all you Nicolas Cage fans who have been waiting patiently for “National Treasure 3”, an almost unbelievably brazen heist at one of Europe’s oldest museums might help scratch that itch.
A mysterious crew of thieves pulled off one of the most audacious art heists in recent memory, and reportedly since World War 2, when they absconded with as many as 100 pieces of 18th-century jewelry from the Saxon royal collection, the FT reports.
Authorities on the collection say the value of the stolen jewels is “incalculable,” according to the FT.
Dirk Syndram, the director of the Green Vault collection, refused to give an estimate of how much the stolen items were worth but said they were of “incalculable cultural value.”
According to the Dresden police, the thieves cut away a lattice of iron bars and smashed through a window before entering the jewellery room, one of a suite of opulent Baroque apartments that house the most precious pieces of the royal collection.
They then broke open one of the display cabinets, and took two “jewel garnitures” – sets of 37 diamonds each cut and crafted into buttons, brooches and other matching ornaments. A smaller set of 20 pieces fashioned out of diamonds and pearls was also stolen.
The audacious heist was carried out in the early hours of Monday. The suspects managed to go undetected until around 5 am on Monday, when the museum’s security team spotted two of the thieves entering the vault on their camera feed. A police car was dispatched to the scene and arrived within minutes, but somehow, the suspects had already departed with the jewels.
The head of the investigative department that will be responsible for bringing the thieves to justice told reporters that the suspects had entered the vault shortly after a fire destroyed a nearby electricity installation, cutting power to the area.
Dresden’s Green Vault is home to one of the most famous collections of royal jewels in Europe, with more than 3,000 pieces assembled during the reign of August the Strong, who ruled the region during the early 18th century. Artworks held in the room are mostly Baroque in style and made of gold, silver, ivory and amber.
However, the thieves apparently weren’t much interested in art: They exclusively targeted the jewellry room
Local politicians denounced the heist on social media. Michael Krethe, Prime Minister of Saxony, said all Saxons had been robbed in an emotional tweet sent after the heist.
Nicht nur die Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen wurden bestohlen, sondern wir Sachsen! Man kann die Geschichte von #Sachsen nicht verstehen, ohne das #GrünesGewölbe. Die Werte, die hier zu finden sind, wurden von den Menschen in unserem Freistaat über viele Jahrhunderte hart erarbeitet
— Michael Kretschmer (@MPKretschmer) November 25, 2019
As reporters scrambled for information and answers, Roland Woeller, a local politician and member of Angela Merkel’s CDU, told the press that a group of criminals had gained access to the Green vault and stolen the artifacts, which carry an “immeasurable” value, according to CNN.
“This is an attack on the cultural identity of all Saxons and the state of Saxony,” Woeller added. State Police also confirmed the break-in.
For those who are unfamiliar with the region, Dresden is the capital of the East German state of Saxony. It was made famous by writer Kurt Vonnegut, who set most of his groundbreaking novel, “Slaughterhouse Five”, during the firebombing of Dresden.
This is the second high-profile heist at a German landmark or museum in less than three years: Back in March 2017, a group of thieves stole a 100kg gold coin from Berlin’s Bode Museum.
They were never apprehended, and the coin has never been recovered, leading many to suspect that it was melted down and sold by the thieves.
Here’s a thought that we imagine police will consider: Could the same crew be responsible for both attacks?