It is believed that jewellery worth €1 billion has been stolen from one of the world’s oldest museums, though officials have yet to confirm exactly how much was taken in the heist.
Home to one of Europe’s largest treasure collections, the Dresden Green Vault in eastern Germany was robbed early Monday, with thieves stealing three diamond jewellery sets comprising 37 parts each.
"Three out of 10 diamond sets have gone," Dresden state museums head Marion Ackermann remarked.
Describing the haul as “priceless”, Ms Ackermann said it was impossible to put a figure on what was taken.
"The items cannot be sold on the art market legally - they're too well known," she said, adding that the cultural value of the collection was greater than its material worth.
Germany’s Bild newspaper however, put the value of the heist at 1 billion euros (AU$1.62b).
Created by Saxony ruler Augustus the Strong in 1723, the Green Vault’s collection is housed in eight rooms in the former royal palace, Residenzschloss.
Among the museum’s 3,000 items are an emerald-studded moor - gifted from Russia's Tsar Peter the Great - and a 41-carat green diamond currently on show in New York.
According to the BBC, it is speculated that thieves disabled the museum’s alarm system by starting a fire at a nearby electricity junction box. The Green Vault remains closed.
"The valuables housed in the Green Vault and Residenzschloss were acquired by people in the Saxony Free State with difficulty, over many centuries," Saxony minister-president Michael Kretschmer stated, saying that"not only were the state art collections burgled, but the people of Saxony too".
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