Thieves broke into Dresden’s Grünes Gewölbe early Monday morning, police said.
The eastern German museum, known in English as the Green Vault, houses Europe’s largest collection of treasures.
Police said the thieves targeted the historic section of the museum, which is divided into two sections — the historic treasure chamber of Augustus II the Strong dating to 1733, and the new section, which displays individual treasures.
Authorities are still assessing what was taken from the collection.
Tabloid newspaper Bild reported that the museum’s power supply was possibly sabotaged by a fire before the break-in. The responsible energy supplier confirmed the incident and said it was investigating if the two events were linked.
Bild reported that the thieves had exclusively targeted jewellery, and that they entered through a small window. There was no damage visible from outside the building.
People of Saxon robbed
Saxony State Premier Michael Kretschmer announced he was on his way to the scene and denounced the crime. “Not only the state art collections were robbed, but we Saxons,” Kretschmer said.
“The treasures that can be found in the Green Vault and in the Residence Palace have been hard-won by the people in the Free State of Saxony over many centuries.
“One cannot understand the history of our country, our Free State, without the Green Vault and the State Art Collections of Saxony.”
Across 10 highly-decorated rooms, about 3000 pieces of jewellery and other masterpieces made of gold, silver, precious stones, ivory and other valuable materials are displayed.
The building was damaged in WWII but was subqequently repaired. Since its reopening in September 2006, it has been one of Dresden’s tourist magnets.
aw/rt (dpa, AFP)