Berlin — On Tuesday, the German court found five people guilty for theft of jewels of the 18th century worth nearly $130 million from the Dresden Museum in 2019. They were sentenced to imprisonment for terms ranging from four years and four months to six years and three months, according to the German news agency dpa. One accused was acquitted.
The Dresden State Court ruled that five men aged between 24 and 29 were responsible for a break-in at the Green Vault in an eastern German city Museum on November 25, 2019 and the theft of 21 pieces of jewelry containing more than 4,300 diamonds with a total insured value of at least $129 million. At the time, officials said a large diamond brooch and a diamond epaulet were among the items taken.
They have been convicted of arson in particularly serious circumstances involving dangerous bodily harm, armed robbery, property damage and arson.
The men lit a fire just before the break-in to cut off the power supply to street lights near the museum, and also set fire to a car in a nearby garage before fleeing to Berlin. They were caught a few months later during raids in Berlin.
In January, a plea deal was struck between the defense, prosecution and court after most of the stolen jewelry was returned.
The four defendants agreed to a plea deal, and later, through their lawyers, admitted their involvement in the crime. The fifth defendant also confessed, but only to the acquisition of items such as axes, which were used to make holes in the museum display case, reports dpa.
The state of Saxony, where Dresden is located, demanded in court damages of almost 89 million euros — for items that were returned damaged, for those that are still missing, and for repairs to damaged display cases and the museum building.
The Green Vault is one of the oldest museums in the world. It was founded in 1723 and contains the treasury of Augustus the Strong of Saxony, numbering about 4,000 objects of gold, precious stones and other materials.
Arthur Brand, a prominent researcher of stolen art, told CBS News correspondent Roxanne Sabera shortly after the theft that such easily identifiable stolen artifacts would have been impossible to sell on the open market.
“Art can be money. But you can’t sell it; if it gets into the criminal world, it stays there,” he said.