Precious jewels worth £855m stolen in spectacular heist at historic Dresden museum

Precious jewels worth £855m stolen in spectacular heist at historic Dresden museum

Three jewellery sets of diamonds and rubies were stolen from a state museum in Germany in a brazen heist on Monday, director Marion Ackermann said, calling the haul "priceless".

The two remain on the run.

A nearby electrical fire knocked out street lights in the area at around the time of the robbery. They were later returned to East Germany, but the full breadth of the collection's thousands of pieces wasn't put on public display until around 15 years ago, the museum says on its website.

Ms Ackermann said the cultural value of the jewels far outstripped any material value and it would be "a awful thing" if the jewellery was to be broken or melted down.

Police and museum officials released new details about the stolen jewelry Monday evening local time, listing items that include a diamond-laden breast star of the Polish Order of the White Eagle; a hat clasp containing a 16-carat diamond and 14 other large stones, along with 103 smaller diamonds; and a diamond-studded sword hilt that contains nine large and 770 smaller diamonds, along with a matching scabbard.

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

The Green Vault in the Royal Palace of Dresden was established in 1723 by Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony, and is one of the oldest museums in Europe.

The museum is now made up of two sections - a historic part and a new part.

With a strict limit on the amount of daily visitors, entrance to the historic vault can only be reserved in advance.

A gang of thieves broke into Dresden's renowned Green Vault in the early hours of Monday morning and escaped with the valuable treasures.

"One cannot understand the history of our country, of our Free State, without the Green Vault and the State Art Collections of Saxony".

Exhibition rooms at the museum focus on treasures featuring jewels, ivory, silver and amber among other objects.

Saxony's state premier said the heist went beyond the value of the artefacts stolen.

"There is nowhere in any other collection in Europe jewels or jewels set that have been preserved in this form and quality and quantity as these royal sets", said Dirk Syndram, the director of the Green Vault at the Dresden State Art Collections at the press conference.

The treasures of the Green Vault survived Allied bombs during in World War II, only to be carted off as war booty by the Soviet Union.

In 2010, the museum hosted a meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and then U.S. president Barack Obama on his first state visit to Germany.

In 2017, thieves broke into the Bode museum in Berlin and made off with a 100kg (220lb) gold coin, allegedly using only a wheelbarrow, a ladder, and a getaway vehicle.

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