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Thieves grab priceless jewels in German museum heist

AFP
Filed on November 25, 2019 | Last updated on November 25, 2019 at 11.26 pm

(AFP file)

Criminals had broken into the well-protected palace by attacking a nearby power distributor and climbing through a window.

A German state museum with one of the biggest collection of baroque treasures in Europe has been robbed, police said on Monday, with media estimating losses of up to a billion euros.

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.

"This morning there was a break-in at the Green Vault," police in Saxony state confirmed on Twitter, adding that an estimate of the damages was "not yet possible".

Bild newspaper reported meanwhile that "antique jewellery worth around a billion euros has been stolen" in what it called "probably the biggest art theft since World War Two".

One of the oldest museums in Europe, the Green Vault holds treasures including a 63.8-centimetre figure of a Moor studded with emeralds and a 547.71-carat sapphire gifted by Tsar Peter I of Russia.

Bild said the criminals had broken into the well-protected palace by attacking a nearby power distributor and climbing through a window.

They then proceeded to target smaller items of jewellery, leaving larger, bulkier items behind, Bild claimed, without citing sources.

Founded by August the Strong, Elector of Saxony in 1723, the Green Vault is one of 12 museums which make up the famous Dresden State Art Collections.

Its historic section, which contains three quarters of the museum's treasures, was the one broken into on Monday. With a strict limit on the amount of daily visitors, entrance to the historic vault can only be reserved in advance.

Exhibits are arranged into nine rooms, including an ivory room, a silver gilt room and the central "Hall of Treasures".


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