Potentially the biggest art theft in history has occurred overnight in Dresden, Germany. Reportedly surpassing the still unsolved $500 million heist in Boston in 1990; thieves have made off with up to €1 billion ($1.1b US) of jewellery. Perpetrators of the Green Vault heist are said to have targeted smaller objects such as jewellery and left larger items like vases or paintings.
Dubbed in 2010 as ‘secure as Fort Knox’ by then-museum Director Martin Roth, thieves are thought to have set fire to a power box under the Augustus Bridge which cut power to the building before gaining entry via a small window.
Despite shutting off the power it is reported that a single CCTV camera was still in operation and has caught the suspects on film.
One of the most valuable items at the Gruenes Gewoelbe (Green Vault) is a green diamond called the ‘Dresden Green’ which is currently on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
A notice on the Green Vault’s website reads: “Please note that the Royal Palace (Residenzschloss) remains closed on 25. November 2019 for organizational reasons.”
A police spokesman Thomas Geithner confirmed the break in at 9:30am which apparently occurred around 5:00am this morning. “The crime scene group is on the scene, the perpetrators are on the run” he noted.
The Prime Minister of the state of Saxony – Michael Kretschmer had this to say in a statement: “Not only the state art collections were robbed, but we Saxons! Together with 600 artisans, we celebrated together that the largest part of the Residenzschloss is restored.” He continued: “The values that can be found in the Grünes Gewölbe and the Residenzschloss have been hard-won by the people of the Free State of Saxony for many centuries. One can not understand the history of our country, of our Free State, without the Green Vault and the State Art Collections of Saxony.”
Read more articles about art crime – The Future of Art Crime.