Prominent Criminal Family Orchestrates Meticulously Planned Heist, Stealing €113 Million Worth Of Artifacts From City's State Museum
Many of the riches, including a diamond-encrusted sword, were recovered by police, but the rest of the seized treasure may never be located.
The guys, who are all part of a prominent criminal family network, face prison sentences ranging from four to six years.
This heist was methodically organized. The gang, who lived in Berlin, visited the site numerous times and prepared their access point in advance, sawing through the bars of a protective window covering before taping them back into place using a hydraulic cutting machine.
Then, in the early hours of November 25, 2019, they set fire to a circuit breaker panel near the museum, obliterating the surrounding streets while two of the men snuck inside.
The robbers were seen on CCTV wearing masks and wielding axes as they entered the sumptuously adorned Gruenes Gewoelbe - or Green Vault - and destroyed the glass display cases to gain access to the riches.
The robbers then poured a foam fire extinguisher over the room to cover their tracks before fleeing in an Audi, which they left in a car park and set fire to before fleeing back to Berlin.
Police made their first arrests after a year-long investigation. The "Remmo clan" includes all of those condemned today. There are multiple "clans" in Germany; family networks with Arab roots that are involved in big organized crime, including a raid on a department store and a bank robbery in recent years.
One of the Dresden burglars had already been convicted of stealing a massive goldcoin weighing 100kg (15st 10lb) from Berlin's Bode Museum in 2017. The coin was never found and is thought to have been shattered or melted down.
Prof Marion Ackermann, general director of Dresden's State Art Collections explains:
There are people who steal artworks out of a passion for art, but this was really the opposite. They had no idea what they were taking.- Prof Marion Ackermann
Initially, there were fears that the treasure, like the golden coin, would be lost forever.
However, many of the stolen pieces were returned to the museum after three of the men confessed to the robbery and agreed to reveal the location of the loot as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors.
Nonetheless, numerous pieces remain unaccounted for, including an extremely rare diamond known as the White Stone of Saxony.
The objects were part of a treasure hoard amassed by Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony, in the 18th century. He not only accumulated artifacts encrusted with diamondsand valuable stones, but he also designed the Green Vault to house them.
According to Prof Ackermann, the loss of a portion of the collection was especially distressing because Augustus' objective back then, as it is now, was that a visitor should view the entire ensemble together and be astonished by the range of colors and stones.
The heist's daring stunned the art world. However, the break-in prompted concerns about the museum's security systems.
During the trial, one of the robbers expressed surprise that they had been able to see through window bars apparently undetected, despite the noise generated by their cutting tools.
Prof Ackermann, who stressed that responsibility for the museum's security concept was shared by Dresden's State Art Collection and another regional agency, asserted that the security system was one of the best in Germany.
But, she added:
Many aspects come together in a security system. The building, the organization, and also the technical aspects. And, like in a chain, every aspect must work and, in this case, many things didn't work.- Prof Ackermann
She claims that a device designed to scan the museum's outside walls failed and that guards in the central security room, who were watching events develop on their monitors, were hesitant to notify the police.
Police began an investigation into four security guards at the museum on suspicion of assisting with preparations and responding too slowly to the break-in itself, but those inquiries were closed last year.
German gang members sentenced over 2019 jewel heist
Today, the security system has been upgraded, and museum personnel are focusing on the restoration of the gems.
Experts believe Augustus' treasure can be restored to its original splendor and finally displayed in public.
However, curators are resigned to the loss of the rest of the loot and acknowledge that the collection will most likely never be whole again.