Officials Hail ‘Christmas Miracle’ as Bulk of $120 Million Diamond Heist Recovered in Germany

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
December 19, 2022Germany
Officials Hail ‘Christmas Miracle’ as Bulk of $120 Million Diamond Heist Recovered in Germany
A general view of Green Vault city palace, unique historic museum that contains the largest collection of treasures in Europe after a robbery in Dresden, Germany, on Nov. 25, 2019. (Matthias Rietschel/File Photo via Reuters)

Authorities in Germany announced over the weekend that a “significant” portion of expensive goods that were stolen during a break-in into Dresden’s Green Vault in 2019 has been recovered.

In a Dec. 17 statement, the Dresden Public Prosecutor’s Office said 31 individual items, or pieces of items, were seized in Berlin Friday night by investigators.

The recovered goods include several pieces that appear to be complete sets, such as the breast star of the Polish Order of the White Eagle and a diamond “Heron Tail” head-dress.

The secured items were taken to Dresden under the protection of special forces, the office noted. The goods will be examined by art specialists at the Dresden State Art Collections to confirm their authenticity and whether they are intact.

In all, the pieces stolen from one of Europe’s greatest art collections contained more than 4,300 diamonds with an estimated value of more than $120 million.

Additionally, police confirmed that not all of the items stolen during the break-in have been recovered and some still remain missing, including the diamond-studded large breast bow of Queen Amalie Auguste and an epaulet known as the “Saxon White” that includes a precious stone.

Authorities stated that investigators completed the find after negotiations between the defendants and prosecutors to return the stolen items on an agreement.

In January, six men aged between 22 and 28 were formally indicted in Desden for serious gang theft and arson for their alleged involvement in the Nov. 25, 2019, burglary at Dresden’s Green Vault.

Four of the suspects could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted, and the maximum penalty for the youngest defendants, who are twins, would be 10 years of juvenile imprisonment, Juergen Schmidt, a spokesman for Dresden’s prosecutor’s office, told Reuters. All defendants are from the same family, he added.

NTD Photo
Defendant Abdul Majed R covers his face as he sits in the courtroom of the Higher Regional Court during the trial over a jewellery heist in the Green Vault museum in Dresden’s Royal Palace, in Dresden, Germany, on Aug. 30, 2022. (Jens Schlueter/Pool via Reuters)

All of the accused are also allegedly members of the “Remmo” clan, which is also known as Berlin’s “Arab mafia,” a notorious crime family that first attracted the attention of police in the early 1990s after two of its members shot and killed a restaurant owner while seriously injuring another man.

Two of the six suspects have already been sentenced to four and a half years in prison for their involvement in stealing the Big Maple Leaf, a 220-pound gold coin worth 3.75 million euros, from Berlin’s Bode Museum in 2017.

Thomas Ziegler, a spokesman for Dresden district court, said at a trial in January that the group prepared the burglary “meticulously.”

Ziegler said prosecutors believe that the six individuals had checked out the crime scene beforehand, sawn through part of a window grating in advance and reattached it to get into the building as quickly as possible during the heist.

Dresden’s Green Vault is one of the world’s oldest museums and houses the largest treasure collection in Europe.

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 treasure survived Allied bombing raids in World War II, 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.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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