Story of Spectacular Heist Has Never Been Told Like This

'GQ' goes deep into the Green Vault heist
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 28, 2021 3:35 PM CDT
Inside the Wild Theft of an Opulent Royal Treasure
The Green Vault is in Dresden's Royal Palace, or Residenzschloss.   (Getty Images)

There's a good chance you heard about the Green Vault heist, a spectacular theft of jewels in Dresden, Germany, in 2019. But you definitely haven't heard about it like Joshua Hammer tells it. In a lengthy piece for GQ, he goes deep into the billion-dollar crime, the suspects, the history of the treasures, and their likely fate. He paints a picture of the monarch who assembled much of the collection, Augustus II. The king spent some time as a teenager at Versailles, whose opulence he tried to recreate in his own court, and acquired gems from all corners of the world. In 1723 he opened his Green Vault to the public, with the treasures on view until the Nazis packed them up and squirreled them away to a mountaintop fortress. The Russians ultimately seized them but returned them years later, and in 2006 a replica of the Green Vault was reopened.

So if that's the past, what about the present? Hammer explains that suspicion immediately fell on the Remmo crime family, a Lebanese family who came to West Berlin in the 1980s. "After all, it bore all the hallmarks of other cases involving the family" with its "trail of violence and vandalism": a destroyed electrical distribution box that took out power—and security cameras—in the neighborhood; powder from a fire extinguisher sprayed in the Chamber of Jewels to mask their tracks; a burned out car used to get to the scene. Except some DNA lingered in that car. It belonged to Wissam Remmo, who is in his early 20s and was at the time of the Green Vault heist on trial (but not being held in custody) for the 2017 theft of the Big Maple Leaf, a 220-pound solid-gold coin worth $4 million that was taken from a Berlin museum using, in part, a trolley, rope, and a wheelbarrow. (Read the full story for so much more.)

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