2019 Dresden heist

Last updated

2019 Dresden heist
Green vault crime scene Dresden 2019.jpg
Crime scene at the window used for entry
Date25 November 2019 (2019-11-25)
Time04:56 a.m CET (UTC+1)
VenueThe Green Vault,
Dresden Castle
Location Dresden, Germany
TypeJewellery theft
SuspectsAt least two unidentified individuals
Stolen value 1 billion

On 25 November 2019, royal jewellery was stolen from the Green Vault museum within Dresden Castle in Dresden, 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. [1] 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. [2] [3]

Contents

Museum

Jewel Room (labelled 8) within the Green Vault Grundriss Grunes Gewolbe.svg
Jewel Room (labelled 8) within the Green Vault

The heist took place at the Green Vault (German : Grünes Gewölbe) in Dresden, 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. [4] 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. [1]

Heist

External video
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg CCTV footage of the heist
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg See the 'Priceless' 18th-Century Jewels Stolen

On 25 November 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. [5] [6] 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 in order to fit through the hole. CCTV footage shows two thieves within the vaults. They smashed the glass displays with an axe in order to gain access to the jewellery. [7]

The thieves removed three 18th-century jewellery sets consisting of 37 parts each, including diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. [8] [9] 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. [10] The thieves exited through the same window, replacing the bars in order to delay detection. The robbery was detected by the guards at 04:56 a.m. and 16 police cars were dispatched to the museum. [11] 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 and followed safety protocol. [12]

Stolen items

Diamond star of the Order of the White Eagle Star of the Royal Diamantrosengarnitur of the Order of White Eagle of Augustus II the Strong.jpg
Diamond star of the Order of the White Eagle

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 that a jewelled Polish White Eagle Order and a diamond epaulette were among the items stolen. [13] Also believed to be stolen is a diamond hat clasp comprising 15 large diamonds and more than 100 small ones, the largest being a 16-carat diamond, that was 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. [14]

Estimated value

The estimated total value of stolen items, according to Bild , is 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. [15] According to NPR, the "material value seems to have fallen short of $1 billion". [1] 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. [15] Saxony's interior minister, Roland Wöller  [ de ], also stated that the cultural loss "is impossible to estimate". [16]

Investigation

The first police car was called to the building at 4:59 a.m. arriving five minutes later, [1] but by that time the suspects had escaped. [16] The police set up roadblocks on approach around Dresden in an attempt to prevent the suspects from leaving. [16] However, according to police, the museum's close proximity to the autobahn is likely to have helped the suspects' escape. [16] 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. [1] Police offered a €500,000 reward for information which could lead to the capture of the perpetrators. [10]

Starting 12 December 2019, several German media outlets reported that police were investigating links to an Arab clan in Berlin. [17] [18] In March 2020, police revealed that at least 7 individuals were involved in the robbery. [19] German prosecutors are currently investigating four security guards as likely culprits, as they failed to "react adequately". [20] [21]

In January 2020, an Israeli security company claimed that jewels from the heist were being sold on the dark web, a claim which German investigators rejected. [22]

Response

It is feared that the thieves will alter the stolen works in order to sell them on the black market. Museum officials have begged the thieves not to melt down any of the gold or otherwise harm the artefacts. [8] The General Director of Dresden's state art collections told reporters that the stolen jewels cannot be sold on the art market legally as they were too well known to collectors. [23]

The state police of Saxony have thus far not named any suspects. According to police spokesman Marco Laske, "we have not identified a perpetrator and nor have we yet made any arrests." [24]

Saxony's Minister-President Michael Kretschmer used Twitter to denounce the crime, saying "not only the state art collections were robbed, but we Saxons." [25]

The museum reopened on 27 November, although the Green Vault remained closed. [26]

Related Research Articles

Dresden Green Diamond 41 carats (8.2 g) natural green diamond

The Dresden Green Diamond, also known as "Dresden Green", is a 41 carats (8.2 g) natural green diamond, which probably originated in the Kollur mine in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India.

Iranian National Jewels Collection of crown jewels

The Iranian National Jewels, originally the Iranian Crown Jewels, include elaborate crowns, thirty tiaras, and numerous aigrettes, a dozen bejeweled swords and shields, a number of unset precious gems, numerous plates and other dining services cast in precious metals and encrusted with gems, and several other more unusual items collected or worn by the Persian monarchs from the 16th century and on. The collection is housed at The Treasury of National Jewels, situated inside the Central Bank of Iran on Tehran's Ferdowsi Avenue.

Jacob Diamond

The Jacob Diamond, also known as the Imperial or Victoria Diamond, is a colorless Golconda diamond ranked as the fifth-biggest polished diamond in the world. The last nizam of the Hyderabad State, Mir Osman Ali Khan, found the diamond in the toe of the shoe of his father at Chowmahalla Palace and used it as a paper weight for a long time. It was bought by the government of India for an estimated $13 million in 1995. It is cut in a rectangular cushion-cut, with 58 facets, and measures 39.5 mm long, 29.25 mm wide and 22.5 mm deep. The diamond weighs 184.75 carats. Currently, it is kept at the Reserve Bank of India vaults in Mumbai. As part of the nizam's jewellery exhibition in 2001 and 2007, the Jacob Diamond was a major attraction at Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad.

The DeLong Star Ruby, a 100.32-carat (20.064 g) oval cabochon star ruby, was discovered in Burma in the 1930s. It was sold by Martin Ehrmann to Edith Haggin DeLong for US$21,400, who then donated it to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City in 1937.

Named after The Pink Panther series of crime comedy films, Pink Panthers is the name given by Interpol to an international jewel thief network, consisting of 200-250 members from Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The organization is responsible for some of the most audacious thefts in the history of crime. They are responsible for what have been termed some of the most glamorous heists ever, and one criminologist even described their crimes as "artistry". They have operated in numerous countries and on several continents, and include Japan's most successful robbery amongst their thefts. A film documentary based upon their thefts, Smash & Grab, was released in July the 2nd 2013.

Johann Melchior Dinglinger German goldsmith

Johann Melchior Dinglinger was one of Europe's greatest goldsmiths, whose major works for the elector of Saxony, Augustus the Strong, survived in the Grünes Gewölbe, Dresden. Dinglinger was the last goldsmith to work on the grand scale of Benvenuto Cellini and Wenzel Jamnitzer, fewer of whose large-scale works in precious materials have survived, however. His work carries on in a Mannerist tradition into the "Age of Rococo".

Dresden Castle Castle in Dresden, Germany

Dresden Castle or Royal Palace is one of the oldest buildings in Dresden, Germany. For almost 400 years, it was the residence of the electors (1547–1806) and kings (1806–1918) of Saxony from the Albertine House of Wettin as well as Kings of Poland (1697–1763). It is known for the different architectural styles employed, from Baroque to Neo-renaissance.

Green Vault Art museum in Dresden, Germany

The Green Vault is a museum located in Dresden, Germany, which contains the largest treasure collection in Europe. The museum was founded in 1723 by Augustus the Strong of Poland and Saxony, and it features a variety of exhibits in styles from Baroque to Classicism. The Green Vault is named after the formerly malachite green painted column bases and capitals of the initial rooms. It has some claim to be the oldest museum in the world; it is older than the British Museum, opened in 1759, but the Vatican Museums date their foundation to the public display of the newly excavated Laocoön group in 1506.

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden Cultural institution in Dresden, Germany

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden is a cultural institution in Dresden, Germany, owned by the State of Saxony. It is one of the most renowned and oldest museum institutions in the world, originating from the collections of the Saxon electors in the 16th century.

Jewels of the Nizams large jewelery collection originally belonging to the Nizams of Hyderabad

The Jewels of the Nizams of Hyderabad State are among the largest and most expensive collection of jewels in present-day India. The jewels belonged to the Nizams. After the annexation of their kingdom by Union of India, the Nizam and his heirs were barred by the Indian government from taking the collection, claiming that it was a national treasure.

The Blue Diamond Affair is a series of unresolved crimes and embittered diplomatic relations triggered by the 1989 theft of gems belonging to the House of Saud by a Thai employee. The affair has soured relations between Saudi Arabia and Thailand for over 30 years.

Nassak Diamond

The Nassak Diamond is a large, 43.38 carats (8.676 g) diamond that originated as a larger 89 carat diamond in the 15th century in India. Found in Golconda mines of Kollur and originally cut in India, the diamond was the adornment in the Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple, near Nashik, in the state of Maharashtra, India from at least 1500 to 1817. The British East India Company captured the diamond through the Third Anglo-Maratha War and sold it to British jewellers Rundell and Bridge in 1818. Rundell and Bridge recut the diamond in 1818, after which it made its way into the handle of the 1st Marquess of Westminster's dress sword.

Maharani Sita Devi Sahib of Baroda, born to Telugu family on 12 May 1917 in Madras, India, died 15 February 1989 in Paris, France. She was known as the "Indian Wallis Simpson". She was a colourful lady who led an extravagant life for over 40 years and was a member of the international jet set.

2009 Graff Diamonds robbery

The Graff Diamonds robbery took place on 6 August 2009 when two men posing as customers entered the premises of Graff Diamonds in New Bond Street, London and stole jewellery worth nearly £40 million. It was believed to be the largest ever gems heist in Britain at the time, and the second largest British robbery after the £53 million raid on a Securitas depot in Kent in 2006. The thieves' haul totalled 43 items of jewellery, consisting of rings, bracelets, necklaces and wristwatches. One necklace alone has been reported as being worth more than £3.5m. Britain's previous largest jewellery robbery also took place at Graff's, in 2003. As of September 2014, none of the stolen jewels have been recovered.

Graff is a British multinational jeweller based in London. It was founded by British jeweller Laurence Graff in 1960. A vertically integrated company, Graff operations comprise the design, manufacture and retail distribution of jewellery and watches.

Vojislav Stanimirović is a Serbian journalist and one-time crime figure, most famous for his leading role in The Vizcaya Heist. He emigrated to the United States in 1952. Vojislav Stanimirović was also later involved with YACS and the Pink Panthers among Serbian mafia figures. He is the father of Pavle Stanimirović.

Hatton Garden safe deposit burglary 2015 theft from an underground vault in Holborn, Camden, north London

In April 2015, the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company, an underground safe deposit facility in London's Hatton Garden area, was burgled. The total stolen may have a value of up to £200 million, and the incident has been called the "largest burglary in British legal history." The heist was planned and carried out by six elderly men who were experienced thieves, all of whom pleaded guilty and received prison sentences in March 2016. Four other men were also tried on suspicion of involvement; three were found guilty and sent to prison, while the fourth was cleared.

The Dresden White Diamond is a 49.71-carat (9.942 g) cushion-cut diamond that probably originated from the Golconda mines in Southern India.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Chappell, Bill (25 November 2019). "Thieves Steal Priceless Diamonds In Heist At Dresden's 'Green Vault' Museum". NPR.org. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  2. "'Up to a billion euros' of jewels and antiques stolen from Dresden museum". www.thelocal.de. 25 November 2019.
  3. Connolly, Kate (25 November 2019). "Jewellery of 'immeasurable worth' stolen in dramatic Dresden museum heist". The Guardian via www.theguardian.com.
  4. "Thieves Steal Priceless Items from Dresden's Treasury Green Vault; Hiscox Comments". Insurance Journal. 26 November 2019.
  5. Jamie Ross (25 November 2019). "Billion-Dollar Art Heist: Thieves Cut Alarms With Fire at Dresden's Green Vault Palace". Daily Beast. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  6. "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.
  7. "Polizei Sachsen – Polizeidirektion Dresden – Einbruch in Historisches Grünes Gewölbe – Zeugen gesucht!". www.polizei.sachsen.de (in German). 25 November 2019. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  8. 1 2 Holden, Kit (25 November 2019). "'Priceless' jewels snatched from German state museum". news.yahoo.com. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  9. "Priceless diamonds stolen in German museum raid". BBC. 25 November 2019. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  10. 1 2 France-Presse, Agence (28 November 2019). "Police offer €500,000 reward over Dresden diamond heist". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  11. Angerer, Carlo; Elbaum, Rachel (25 November 2019). "Thieves target treasures at world-renowned Green Vault museum in Dresden, Germany". NBC News. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  12. Boucher, Ashley (25 November 2019). "Priceless Jewelry Stolen in German Castle Heist Leads to Manhunt in Dresden". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  13. Givetash, Linda; Angerer, Carlo (28 November 2019). "49-carat diamond among nearly 20 jewels stolen in German museum heist". NBC News. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  14. Holland, Oscar (26 November 2019). "Dresden museum heist: What we know about the stolen jewels". CNN Style. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  15. 1 2 "Thieves Stole Up to a Billion Dollars Worth of Jewels From Dresden's Famed Treasure Museum, Escaping in a Limousine". Artnet. 25 November 2019. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  16. 1 2 3 4 Kate Connolly (25 November 2019). "Jewellery of 'immeasurable worth' stolen in dramatic Dresden museum heist". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  17. "Spuren aus dem Grünen Gewölbe führen in Berlins Clanmilieu". Welt. 12 December 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  18. "Grünes Gewölbe: Spektakulärer Juwelen-Raub in Dresden: Neue Spur führt ins Berliner Clan-Milieu". Focus. 11 December 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  19. "German police: At least 7 involved in Dresden jewelry theft". AP NEWS. 5 March 2020.
  20. "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.
  21. Connolly, Kate (9 March 2020). "Dresden palace guards investigated over alleged role in heist" via www.theguardian.com.
  22. "Security Experts Say That Jewels Stolen From Dresden's Green Vault in an Audacious Heist Have Now Popped Up on the Dark Web". artnet News. 13 January 2020.
  23. Gearty, Robert (25 November 2019). "Dresden museum heist thieves steal $1.1 billion in 'priceless' jewels". Fox News. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  24. Ross, Jamie (25 November 2019). "Billion-Dollar Art Heist: Thieves Use Fire, Axes to Plunder Dresden's Green Vault Palace". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 27 November 2019 via www.thedailybeast.com.
  25. Brito, Christopher (25 November 2019). "Thieves steal jewelry reportedly worth more than $1 billion from German museum". www.cbsnews.com. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  26. Eddy, Melissa (27 November 2019). "Dresden Museum Partly Reopens After Jewelry Heist" via NYTimes.com.

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Dresdner Juwelendiebstahl at Wikimedia Commons