For a long time it seemed as if the jewels and jewelery stolen from the Green Vault in Dresden were lost forever. For three years, the valuable loot did not appear again. But yesterday the public prosecutor's office and the police surprised with good news: A large part of the historical pieces were secured in Berlin during the night from Friday to Saturday - some of them probably completely. The return of the loot is apparently based on a deal between the alleged thieves and the judiciary.
A trial against six suspects for serious gang theft and arson has been running in Dresden since the beginning of the year. The young men belong to an extended family of Arabic origin from Berlin. According to the investigators, the seizure of the loot was preceded by exploratory talks with the defendants' lawyers. The Saxon authorities said that "the defense and the public prosecutor's office, including the court, discussed a possible agreement on the procedure and the return of any booty that was still there".
Further information about the possible deal is currently not possible. The investigators also gave no information on the location of the jewels. "Everything else is now reserved for the course of the main hearing before the Dresden Regional Court," said Jürgen Schmidt, spokesman for the Dresden public prosecutor's office. The trial will continue next Tuesday.
Director General Marion Ackermann: "Christmas Miracle"
The Dresden State Art Collections (SKD) and its general director Marion Ackermann were relieved. For the past three years, she herself "believed deeply" that the stolen jewels would turn up again. There was no evidence that parts of it had already appeared or been sold. The analysis of other art thefts brought certainty of a return. But if you get such wonderful news on the day before the fourth Advent, then you believe in a "Christmas miracle".
The burglary in the early morning of November 25, 2019 was one of the most spectacular art thefts in Germany. The perpetrators punched holes in a display case with an ax and ripped out the jewels. They stole pieces of jewelry with a total of 4,300 diamonds and brilliants with a total value of over 113 million euros. A discussion then flared up about the safety precautions in the art collections.
According to the investigators, a number of pieces of jewelry are now back. These included the hat decoration and the breast star of the Polish White Eagle Order from the diamond set. A total of 31 individual parts were found in Berlin. Among other things, the epaulette with the "Saxon White" that was damaged during the theft and the large breast bow of Queen Amalie Auguste were missing.
Checking the jewels for authenticity and completeness
The secured pieces were brought to Dresden accompanied by special police forces. In the Saxon state capital, they should first be examined forensically. Afterwards, experts from the State Art Collections should check them for authenticity and completeness. That will take some time, said SKD spokesman Holger Liebs on Sunday.
The art theft expert Willi Korte is surprised by the return of the jewels. After the burglary, he assumed that the perpetrators had already taken care of selling the loot before the crime and that they would therefore not be found again. "In that case, I was happy to be wrong in my opinion," said the provenance researcher. In his estimation, the loot should have survived the time since the theft well. "Since it's mostly precious metal and stones, you don't have to pay so much attention to the temperature," said Korte.
Tweet Michael Kretschmer
The Saxon Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer reacted immediately: "Saxony says: Thank you," said the CDU politician to the police and judiciary. Saxony's Minister of Culture, Barbara Klepsch, was also relieved. "Now it remains to be seen what the experts will find out when they look at the pieces and what condition they are in," said the CDU politician.
According to police spokesman Thomas Geithner, the investigative authorities have been asked time and again how realistic it is for the loot to return to Dresden. "We've always been very optimistic," Geithner said. But there was also a bit of "fibbing". The longer the investigations had lasted, the more confidence had melted. The police spokesman also put on the brakes on the euphoria a bit: An expert opinion confirming the authenticity of the pieces is still missing.