Five Germans sentenced for infamous Green Vault jewel heist

by mcardinal


A German court on Tuesday sentenced five men to several years behind bars for their involvement in a jewel heist in 2019 at a museum in Dresden that houses one of Europe’s greatest art collections.

The pieces stolen from the break-in at the Gruenes Gewoelbe (Green Vault) museum in Dresden contained more than 4,300 diamonds with an estimated value of more than 113 million euros.

They included a breast star of the Polish Order of the White Eagle, an ornate diamond headdress, and a diamon encrusted sword, among other things. However, police have said most of the stolen jewels have been recovered.

Five members of the same family, all in their 20s, were handed sentences of between four years and four months and six years and two months. A sixth family member was acquitted.

The five men were convicted of aggravated gang theft and serious arson.

Prosecutors said the men had sawn through part of a window grating in advance and re-attached it with glue to disguise their planned burglary.  The morning of the heist they set fire to a circuit breaker to deactivate lights near the museum. They then broke into the museum through the prepared window, smashed the glass enclosing the jewels, and made off with their loot in a matter of minutes.

The stolen Dresden collection was assembled in the 18th century by Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and later King of Poland, who commissioned ever more brilliant jewelry as part of his rivalry with France’s King Louis XIV.

The treasures survived Allied bombing raids in World War Two, only to be carted off as war booty by the Soviet Union. They were returned to Dresden, the historic capital of the state of Saxony, in 1958.

Copyright 2023 Thomson/Reuters. Additions and edits for FISM News by Michael Cardinal.