Diamond thieves stole three ‘priceless’ sets of 18th-century jewellery from a German museum in an early-morning raid.
The Green Vault in Dresden has suffered an ‘immeasurable’ loss after burglars broke into the building in the early hours of Monday, officials said.
The thieves switched off a power supply at 5a.m. before breaking through a window into a museum which once boasted it was ‘as secure as Fort Knox’.
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 report said 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.
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, Ackermann said.
Asked about the suggested value of a billion Euros (£850million), she said the value of the items stolen could not be quantified.