Diamond thieves steal jewellery 'worth up to a BILLION EUROS' from German museum after making off with three 'priceless' sets commissioned by Augustus the Strong in the 18th century (21 Pics)

Diamond thieves stole three 'priceless' sets of 18th-century jewellery from a German museum in an early-morning raid today. 
The Green Vault in Dresden has suffered an 'immeasurable' loss after burglars broke into the building in the early hours of this morning, officials said. 
The thieves switched off a power supply at 5am before breaking through a window into a museum which once boasted it was 'as secure as Fort Knox', it is believed.
Once inside, they stole three sets of diamonds which were commissioned by Saxony's ruler Augustus the Strong in an 18th-century show of power. 
Museum experts have said the items are priceless and could never be sold, but Bild reported that up to a billion euros' worth of treasures may have been stolen. 
Two thieves were apparently caught on CCTV cameras inside the museum but they escaped in a getaway car and a manhunt has so far proved fruitless.  
Targeted: Visitors at the Green Vault in Dresden where thieves are feared to have stolen up to a billion euros' worth of treasure in an early-morning heist today
Targeted: Visitors at the Green Vault in Dresden where thieves are feared to have stolen up to a billion euros' worth of treasure in an early-morning heist today
Investigation: A police officer wearing gloves and a mask works at the crime scene outside Dresden's royal palace this morning following the break-in
Investigation: A police officer wearing gloves and a mask works at the crime scene outside Dresden's royal palace this morning following the break-in
Means of entry? A window at the side of the building where the thieves - who were said to be noticeably small - are feared to have forced their way inside
Means of entry? A window at the side of the building where the thieves - who were said to be noticeably small - are feared to have forced their way inside  
Sealed off: A police officer mans a cordon outside the Green Vault museum in Dresden, eastern Germany, this morning following what could be a record art theft
Sealed off: A police officer mans a cordon outside the Green Vault museum in Dresden, eastern Germany, this morning following what could be a record art theft 
At a press conference this afternoon, museum director Marion Ackermann said staff were 'shocked' by the 'brutality' of the break-in. 
Thieves smashed into a glass cabinet and made off with three sets of jewellery which were made for Augustus the Strong, the elector of Saxony in the 18th century, she explained. 
Augustus competed with French monarch Louis XIV to assemble the most extravagant jewellery, she explained, describing the items stolen as 'state treasures of the 18th century'.  
The material worth of the jewellery was less important than the fact they had come as a set, she said. 
Asked about the suggested value of a billion euros (£850million), she said the value of the items stolen could not be quantified. 
'We’re dealing with priceless artistic and cultural treasures,' she told reporters in Dresden this afternoon. 
Police say they were alerted to the break-in at 4.59am and suspect that the thieves were behind an electrical fire which broke out nearby.   
Shutting off the electricity may have helped the burglars to disable the museum's alarm systems and also left the area in darkness, it is feared.  
Reports in Germany say the thieves were 'noticeably small' and able to fit through a tiny space in a window. 
State police officers are now at the crime scene as they investigate how the thieves got inside. 
'We have not identified a perpetrator and nor have we yet made any arrests,' police spokesman Marko Laske said. 
A notice on the museum's website this morning states only that the building is closed today for 'organisational reasons'.  
A map showing where the break-in took place this morning and the bridge where the thieves are believed to have cut off a power supply to help them gain entry 
Police tape hangs across a doorway at the Dresden museum, where thieves broke in after the power supply was stopped and a fire broke out
Police tape hangs across a doorway at the Dresden museum, where thieves broke in after the power supply was stopped and a fire broke out 
Search for evidence: A police officer scours the steps of the Dresden royal palace for evidence on Monday morning following a 5am raid on the museum
Search for evidence: A police officer scours the steps of the Dresden royal palace for evidence on Monday morning following a 5am raid on the museum 
Search: A German policeman looks for evidence outside the Dresden royal palace which houses the Green Vault where thieves staged a break-in this morning
Search: A German policeman looks for evidence outside the Dresden royal palace which houses the Green Vault where thieves staged a break-in this morning 
Crime scene: A police van parks outside the historic museum today following a break-in
Crime scene: A police van parks outside the historic museum today following a break-in 
A view of Dresden's former royal palace today where the collection of treasures is on display
A view of Dresden's former royal palace today where the collection of treasures is on display 
Targeted: Visitors at the Green Vault in Dresden where thieves are feared to have stolen up to a billion euros' worth of treasure in an early-morning heist today
Targeted: Visitors at the Green Vault in Dresden where thieves are feared to have stolen up to a billion euros' worth of treasure in an early-morning heist today 
'Not only our state collections but we the people of Saxony have been robbed,' said regional premier Michael Kretschmer. 
'You cannot understand the history of our state without the Green Vault. The treasures found there were made by the hard work of people in our state.'  
The security measures at the museum had appeared to be in order and 'comprehensive', he said. 
State interior minister Roland Woeller said it was a 'bitter day for the cultural heritage of Saxony'. 
The thieves 'stole cultural treasures of immeasurable worth - that is not only the material worth but also the intangible worth to the state of Saxony, which is impossible to estimate,' he said. 
A €1billion art theft would be comfortably the largest in history, surpassing the $500million raid on the Gardner Museum in Boston nearly 30 years ago. 
Two thieves disguised as police officers stole 13 works of art from the Boston museum in March 1990 and the crime remains unsolved.  
The Dresden museum was founded by Augustus the Strong, an 18th-century elector of Saxony, and houses thousands of items including historic coins and jewellery.  
However, one of its most valuable treasures - a 41-carat naturally green diamond called the Dresden Green - is currently out on loan in New York. 
The museum did not put a current value on the piece, but said that at the time of its purchase it cost 400,000 thalers, compared to the 288,000 thalers it cost to build the city's lavish Frauenkirche church at around the same time. 
A police van parks outside the Green Vault museum in Dresden today following a burglary of items feared to be worth up to a billion euros (£850million)
A police van parks outside the Green Vault museum in Dresden today following a burglary of items feared to be worth up to a billion euros (£850million) 
Presence: A police officer walks through the gates of the city palace today in Dresden where authorities are investigating a massive art theft
Presence: A police officer walks through the gates of the city palace today in Dresden where authorities are investigating a massive art theft 
Dresden's former royal palace - the home of the former electors and kings of Saxony in the centuries before Germany was unified - is seen today
Dresden's former royal palace - the home of the former electors and kings of Saxony in the centuries before Germany was unified - is seen today 
Dresden's Green Vault takes its name from the green-coloured columns and decoration in rooms such as this one
Dresden's Green Vault takes its name from the green-coloured columns and decoration in rooms such as this one 
VIP visitors: German chancellor Angela Merkel hosted then-US president Barack Obama at the Green Vault in Dresden in 2009 (pictured)
VIP visitors: German chancellor Angela Merkel hosted then-US president Barack Obama at the Green Vault in Dresden in 2009 (pictured) 
The museum also houses include a 25-inch figure of a Moor studded with emeralds and a 648-carat sapphire gifted by Tsar Peter I of Russia at a meeting in 1698. It is unknown whether either of these were stolen.  
Other valuable items include a jewel-studded sculpture of an Indian royal court, made out of gold, silver, enamel, precious stones and pearls.
Another is a 1701 golden coffee service by court jeweller Johann Melchior Dinglinger, decorated with lounging cherubs. 
In 2010, then-museum director Martin Roth boasted in an interview with Die Welt that the Green Vault was 'as secure as Fort Knox'. 
Roth explained how the vault was protected by 'invisible' security systems, but warned that the biggest danger was information leaking out from inside.  
The collection dates back to 1723, while the Dresden royal palace which houses it was first built in 1533 as the home for the electors and later kings of Saxony. 
The Green Vault gets its name from the green-coloured columns and decoration in some of the rooms.  
A police officer kneels down by the steps of the royal palace today as he investigates the break-in at Dresden's Green Vault
A police officer kneels down by the steps of the royal palace today as he investigates the break-in at Dresden's Green Vault 
Police officers outside the entrance to the Green Vault
A police officer works at a cordon outside Dresden's former royal palace
Pictured left: Police officers outside the entrance to the Green Vault this morning; right: an investigator works at the scene of a cordon 
Treasures: Visitors look at the collection in Dresden's Green Vault which dates back to the 18th century and contains thousands of items
Treasures: Visitors look at the collection in Dresden's Green Vault which dates back to the 18th century and contains thousands of items 
Precious: Some of the gemstones in the museum's collection are seen in this file picture
Precious: Some of the gemstones in the museum's collection are seen in this file picture 
The museum and palace were rebuilt after the devastating Allied bombing of Dresden in World War II. Some of the items were looted by Soviet troops in 1945, but later returned. 
Only part of the collection was on display during the Cold War, when Dresden was part of communist East Germany. 
However, the museum was extensively rebuilt in the 2000s and its two exhibitions now form one of the 'best-preserved treasuries in Europe', its website says. 
Angela Merkel hosted then-US President Barack Obama there in 2009 during his early months in office.  
In 2017, a 220lb gold coin the size of a manhole cover was stolen from a Berlin museum and is feared to have been melted down. 
Prosecutors allege that the burglars broke into the museum through an upstairs window and used a ladder, wheelbarrow and rope to extract the coin. A trial remains underway.  
Diamond thieves steal jewellery 'worth up to a BILLION EUROS' from German museum after making off with three 'priceless' sets commissioned by Augustus the Strong in the 18th century (21 Pics) Diamond thieves steal jewellery 'worth up to a BILLION EUROS' from German museum after making off with three 'priceless' sets commissioned by Augustus the Strong in the 18th century (21 Pics) Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 05:06 Rating: 5

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