BERLIN (AFP) — A German state museum with one of the biggest collection of Baroque treasures in Europe has been robbed, police said Monday, with media estimates of losses of up to a billion dollars.
The Green Vault at Dresden’s Royal Palace, home to around 4,000 precious objects made of ivory, gold, silver and jewels, was broken into early Monday morning.
Police confirmed a “break-in at the Green Vault” and said the thieves were on the run.
Officials did not give an estimate but Bild newspaper reported that “antique jewelry worth around a billion euros has been stolen.”
The newspaper said criminals broke into the well-protected palace by attacking a nearby power distributor and climbing through a window.
They targeted smaller items of jewelry, leaving larger, bulkier items behind, Bild said, without citing sources.
The Green Vault is one of the oldest museums in Europe, founded by the August the Strong, Elector of Saxony in 1723.
One of 12 museums which make up the famous Dresden State Art Collections, the vault is split into a historic and a newer exhibition.
The historic section, which contains around three-quarters of the museum’s treasures, was the one broken into Monday.
Its treasures include a 25-inch figure of a Moor studded with emeralds and a 547.71-carat sapphire.
The sapphire was given to August the Strong by Tsar Peter I of Russia at a meeting in 1698, at which the Saxon leader presented his ally with a mounted diamond.
The theft is the second high-profile heist in Germany in recent years, after a 220-pound, 24-carat giant gold coin was stolen from Berlin’s Bode Museum in 2017.
© Agence France-Presse