MAINZ, Germany — Thieves have stolen around 100 pieces of royal jewelry from a world-renowned museum in Dresden, Germany, causing an “unimaginable” loss, the museum said Monday.
Two suspects caught on surveillance video were filmed entering the Grünes Gewölbe museum, or Green Vault, after bending back a metal grille and breaking the glass. After targeting the jewelry in a display case, they fled the museum by car, museum officials said during a press conference.
"We are shocked by the brutality of the burglary," Marion Ackermann, the director of the State Art Collections, said. The museum said the items taken were "priceless."
The collection, located in a former royal palace, was founded in the 18th century by August the Strong, Elector of Saxony and later King of Poland, to show off objects from the treasury.
Police first learned of the heist in one of Europe's largest and most important collections of royal treasure at around 5 a.m. Monday (11 p.m. ET Sunday), and sent 16 patrol cars to search for the thieves, according to the museum. They have not ruled out the involvement of other suspects outside the museum. A burned car was found in the area and police are investigating if there is a connection to the robbery.
Investigators are still on site and cannot say yet if all the pieces were stolen or if some were left behind.
They are also investigating a nearby fire that led to a power outage in the area to see if there is a connection.
Seventeen objects from the museum are currently on loan to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, including one of its best known pieces, a hat ornament featuring the 41-carat Dresden Green Diamond.
The Grünes Gewölbe museum said on its website that it was closed for “organizational reasons” Monday. It is part of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, or State Art Collections.
“Not only the State Art Collections were robbed, but we Saxons,” tweeted Michael Kretschmer, the minister-president of Saxony, the German state where Dresden is located.
“The values found here have been hard-won by the people of our free state for many centuries,” he added.
Carlo Angerer reported from Mainz, Germany, and Rachel Elbaum from London.