A sizable portion of 18th-century jewelry, stolen during a spectacular heist at Dresden’s Green Vault museum three years ago, has been recovered. It involves 31 pieces in total, some of which appear to be complete.
Authorities from the German state of Saxony announced on Saturday, December 17th, that they had seized the items the night before in Berlin. Several pieces appear to be complete, such as the hat ornament and breast star of the Polish Order of the White Eagle. These, among others, will be examined by a forensic team, after which specialists from the Dresden State Art Collections will determine their authenticity and completeness.
General director of the Dresden State Art Collections (SKD), Marion Ackermann, told MDR Sachsen that the retrieval was a “true Christmas miracle,” and that she had erupted into a joyous frenzy upon hearing the news.
Saxony’s Minister of Culture Barbara Klepsch commented that she was “very pleased that the investigating authorities have apparently succeeded in recovering a considerable part of the treasures stolen during the burglary of the historic Green Vault,” adding that “this shows that even three years after this painful break-in, it is worthwhile not to give up hope and to pursue all leads that present themselves.”
Dresden’s Green Vault (Grünes Gewölbe), located on the first and second floors of the western section of Dresden Castle, prides itself on exhibiting Europe’s largest treasure collection. Founded in 1723 by Augustus the Strong of Poland and Saxony, it features a variety of styles, ranging from Baroque to Classicism.
The exact monetary value of the pieces stolen (21 full jewelry sets, consisting of over 4,300 diamonds and gems) in November 2019 has remained unclear, although experts have argued that their import was primarily cultural.
Were the gems—which include diamonds, rubies, and sapphires—to be detached from their ensembles and sold individually, much of their value would be irretrievably lost. They had, however, been insured to the tune of more than €113 million.
According to Dresden, the epaulette (an ornamental shoulder piece used as insignia of military rank) adorned with the 49.71-carat ‘Saxon White’ diamond, and the Great Breast Bow of Queen Amalie Auguste, among others, are still missing.
Saxony’s authorities explained that the discovery had been preceded by “exploratory talks” with the lawyers of the suspected thieves. During these, “the defense and the public prosecutor’s office, with the involvement of the court,” had discussed a “possible plea bargain and the return of any remaining loot.” Since the end of January, six suspects have been tried in Dresden for robbery and arson. The defendants in question, though not openly identified, are by all accounts suspected to be members or associates of the Berlin-based Remmo family clan, well-known for its enterprising spirit in these fields.
These suspects will receive a hearing come December 20th, during which more information, or so it is expected, will be disclosed.