Jewellery, artifacts worth US$1.1b stolen from German museum

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"You can not understand the history of our country, our Free State, without the Green Vault and the State Art Collections of Saxony." said the head of government.

This Tuesday April 4, 2019 photo shows a part of the collection at Dresden's Green Vault in Dresden. A burned auto was found in the area and police are investigating if there is a connection to the robbery.

"We are talking here about items of inestimable art-historical and cultural-historical value", director of Dresden's state art collections, Marion Ackermann, told reporters at a news conference on Monday.

The treasures of the Green Vault survived Allied bombs during in World War II, only to be carted off as war booty by the Soviet Union.

One of its most famous treasures - the 41-carat Dresden "Green Diamond" - is on loan to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it is a headline attraction in the temporary exhibition "Making Marvels: Science and Splendor at the Courts of Europe", according to AFP.

There are about 3000 items of jewellery and other treasures decorated with gold, silver, ivory and pearl.

Virtual tour of burgled room.

Lange said they were also trying to determine whether an unregistered auto, found on fire nearby with all four doors open and smelling of gasoline, may have been the getaway vehicle. The pieces were collected by the ruler of Saxony, August the Strong, who set out to create an elaborate showcase of brilliant gems and valuable artworks.

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People stand in front of the Residenzschloss, Residence Palace, building with the Green Vault.

The haul was worth up to 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), Bild newspaper reported earlier, without giving a source. Ms Ackermann described them as "priceless - we can't put a figure on it". She declined to give a financial value, saying that it was impossible to estimate.

Reports from Germany said that the thieves were "noticeably small" and able to fit through a tiny space in a window.

Germany's culture minister Monika Gruetters said that protection of museums and cultural institutions was now of "the highest priority".

He explained that the stolen sets were part of a 10-set collection which included not only diamonds, but also sapphires, rubies and emeralds.

One expert has already warned that it will be hard to trace the diamonds if they are not found in the next few days.

"It would be a awful thing", she said when asked whether the jewellery might be broken up or melted down.

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