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Three arrested after ‘biggest art heist in modern history’ in Dresden

German police on Tuesday arrested three suspects over a spectacular heist a year ago in which more than a dozen diamond-encrusted items were snatched from a state museum in Dresden.

Three arrested after 'biggest art heist in modern history' in Dresden
Archive photo shows visitors inside the Green Vault. Photo: DPA

Investigators were also raiding 18 properties in Berlin, including 10 apartments as well as garages and vehicles, police and prosecutors said in a statement.

“The measures today are focused on the search for the stolen art treasures and possible evidence, such as data storage media, clothing and tools,” they said.

In what local media have described as the biggest art heist in modern history, the robbers had launched their brazen raid on Green Vault museum in Dresden's Royal Palace on November 25th, 2019.

READ ALSO: 'Up to a billion euros' of jewels and antiques stolen from Dresden museum

Having initiated a partial power cut and broken in through a window, they snatched priceless 18th-century jewellery from the collection of the Saxon ruler August the Strong.

Items stolen included a sword whose hilt is encrusted with nine large and 770 smaller diamonds, and a shoulderpiece which contains the famous 49-carat Dresden white diamond, Dresden's Royal Palace had said.

Dramatic CCTV footage released at that time showed one of the robbers breaking into a display case with an axe.

Police hunting for the suspects had launched several appeals, offering up to half a million euros in reward for information leading to their arrests.

On Monday, around 1,600 officers were deployed in the raids and arrests, with special reinforcements called in from across the country to help.

Police did not identify the three arrested, but said they are German citizens.

All three are accused of “serious gang robbery and two counts of arson,” said Dresden prosecutors.

100-kg gold coin

Germany has been hit by several high-profile heists, with banks and museums frequent targets.

A Berlin court sentenced three men to multi-year jail sentences in February for the theft of a 100-kilogram gold coin from one of the German capital's museums.

Police have found no trace of the Canadian coin since the late-night heist in March 2017 from the Bode Museum, located close to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Berlin apartment.

READ ALSO: €1 million gold coin stolen from iconic Bode Museum

The “Big Maple Leaf”, one of five minted in 2007, is considered the world's second largest gold coin after the one-tonne Australian Kangaroo issued in 2012.

Robbers also hit a German customs office early November, making off with €6.5 million in cash.

Police have offered €100,000 in reward for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of the suspects.

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ART

Eight online events in Germany not to miss in February 2021

With tougher Covid-19 restrictions now in place in Germany, travelling and socialising have become increasingly limited. So we’ve compiled a list of fun events for you to enjoy from the comfort of your own home!

Eight online events in Germany not to miss in February 2021
The entrance to Berlin's Alte Nationalgallerie. Photo: DPA

Here are some events and ongoing activities to look out for in February.

Berlin Philharmonic returns to the 1920s, Saturday, February 13th 2021 at 6:45pm

Berliner Philharmoniker is streaming the 1920s First Symphony Opera, one of German composer Kurt Weill’s early performances. 

As described by the orchestra, this piece’s music is “captivating and triumphant”. The music was composed in 1927 and its story takes place in ancient Greece. 

Final Girls Film Festival, February 4th at 1pm to February 8th at 11:59pm

Final Girls Berlin Film Festival showcases horror cinema that’s directed, written, or produced by women and non-binary filmmakers. 

The festival is committed to creating space for female voices and visions, whether monstrous, heroic or some messy combination of the two, in the horror genre.

Berliner Festspiele, Strong Pieces Stream, Until March 

Berliner Festspiele is showing two of their top picks.

“The Misanthrope” is a Molière’s classic staged by Anne Lenk, and translated by Jürgen Gosch and Wolfgang Wiens. It’s been called a straightforward delight with an exceptional concentration of language and wit. 

And “Man appears in the Holocene” is staged by Alexander Giesches after Max Frisch’s novella about mankind’s Sisyphus-struggle against their own doom.

König Gallerie, 'Dreaming of Alligator Head' by Claudia Comte, January 21st 2021- January 12th 2022

With her digital solo exhibition Dreaming of Alligator Head, Comte creates a scenario that is impossible in reality: She plants her underwater sculpture park in the König Gallerie app. The digital visitors inside experience a fascinating underwater world without having to go on a physical journey. 

Comte also seeks to raise awareness of marine environments and ask how an artistic object can change the world. Check out the exhibition on the König Gallerie app. 

Galerie Tanja Wagner, How to be human, until February 13th 2021 

Celebrating 10 years of the opening of her contemporary art gallery, Tanja Wagner’s exhibition, How to Be Human showcases her personal favourite works of artists she has collaborated with.

It includes Grit Richter’s famous work, Das Letzte Wort, as well as other works that in Wagner’s opinion, seek to explore the question ’How to Be Human’. 

Alte Nationalgalerie Online, until further notice

The Alte Nationalgalerie was set up as a “sanctuary for art and science”. The idea for a national gallery was realised after the donation of a collection of paintings by Caspar David Friedrich to the Prussian state. 

Since Covid-19 has made it difficult to visit the otherwise very popular museum, the gallery has made its collection available online until further notice. 

Naturkundemuseum Berlin, Beats and Bones Podcast and Livestream, Mondays at 7pm, until further notice 

Berlin’s Naturkundemuseum is offering a podcast series where nature experts from the museum answer questions about the diversity of nature, evolution, the formation of the earth, climate change and insect death.

They explore questions such as “Who knows our earliest ancestors were 480 million-year-old jawless fish?” Or, ‘What is the Achilles heel of Tyrannosaurus rex’? 

Catch new episodes every Monday on Instagram, along with a live stream through the museum with experts accompanying you through the collection and exhibition. The previous episodes are available on Spotify as well as Youtube. 

Anne Frank Zentrum, All about Anne, until further notice 

The Anne Frank Zentrum's exhibition “All about Anne” is normally presented at Hackescher Markt in Berlin-Mitte. Since lockdown, the exhibition has been made available online. 

Its exhibition tells the story of Anne Frank's life and the time in which she lived. It also explains why her diary is so well-known today and shows that her thoughts are still relevant. 

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