The recent heist at the Green Vault within the Dresden Castle in Germany has been speculated to be one of the largest art heists in history. City officials and experts consider the loss to be “priceless” and a “cultural loss”, while the media considers the Baroque-era jewellery that was stolen to be worth one billion dollars. The entire heist took about five minutes in total, and it may be possible that the jewels are already melted down or have been sold on the black market. Rachel Simpson spoke to Ngarino Ellis about the nature of art crime; why stealing art has historically been an assertion of power and how exactly the Dresden thieves might have done it.
Ngarino Ellis is a Senior Lecturer in Art History at the University of Auckland. She is an expert in art crime and Māori and indigenous art history.