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By John Pollard | Nov 27, 2019
In a dramatic smash-and-grab on Monday November 25, thieves stole around 100 precious, irreplaceable, possibly priceless, treasures from the historic Green Vault in Dresden, one of the oldest and best preserved treasuries of Europe. CCTV footage shows the audacious break-in.
If you ever encounter one of these irreplacable pieces, be aware of their origin and do the right thing.
Some of the items stolen include a decorative sword & scabbard, epaulette, clasps and brooches containing thousands of diamonds as well as a string of pearls. Most of these were made in the 18th century during the life of Frederick Augustus I, the first king of Saxony, created by court jewelers Jean Jacques Pallard, Christian August Globig and his son August Gotthelf Globig.
Photographs by Jürgen Karpinski: Right-click and "view image" to see each at full-size.
According to officials, an electrical fire knocked out street lights in the area prior to the robbery. It's suspected the two events are related.
The suspects cut through one of the building's exterior security grilles and broke out a window in order to enter the premises. When they arrived to the room housing the collection it took many repeated hits with an axe to break the glass vitrine (pictured at left). Once they had access, they seized the treasures and left the building. Security guards onsite were unarmed and did not intervene with the thieves as they fled.
The burglars reportedly left the scene in an Audi A6. Some time after the theft an identical car was found in an underground garage, set on fire and abandoned.
The vault is usually home to the "Dresden Green," a 41-carat natural green diamond with centuries-old history and provenance. Thankfully, it was not on the premises at the time of the heist, being on-loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
While these are beautiful, historic and irreplacable pieces there is debate about their value. German newspapers talk about a total value of over 1 billion Euros (more than 1.1 billion USD). And while historic value ceertainly makes these pieces priceless, what does "value" mean to the robbers? It is highly unlikely for these pieces to remain untouched, as recognizable as they are, unless we believe some rogue, underground billionaire ordered the heist to own these pieces and never show them to anyone.
The unfortunate reality is that the thieves will likely dismantle the pieces, working to get maximum value for the diamonds, gemstones and metals separately. This would be something of a historic tragedy, with the historic value being completely demolished and the thieves getting very poor value in total.
For the sake of their history and significance, I would appeal to all jewelry professionals, collectors and enthusiasts: Be on the lookout for the pieces in these photos. If you ever encounter one of them, be aware of their origin, and do the right thing.