Three Members of an Infamous German Crime Family Have Confessed to Participating in the Green Vault Heist

Three members of a prominent German crime syndicate have admitted to playing parts in the historic Green Vault heist.

The confessions came in a regional court in Dresden, where six suspects are on trial for their alleged participation in the night-time theft of $123 million worth of jewels from the city’s Grünes Gewölbe—or Green Vault—museum in 2019.

As part of sentencing deal, one of the defendants, Rabieh Remmo, admitted in a statement that he and an unnamed accomplice broke into the institution in the early hours of November 25, 2019, according to the Associated French Press

“My contribution to the crime was larger than I first said,” Remmo said, alluding to a partial confession he gave last year. “I was, myself, in the rooms of the Green Vault.”

Inside, Remmo and his partner used an ax to smash a vitrine holding numerous prized jewels, many of which date back to the late 1700s and were once owned by Saxony’s 18th-century ruler, Augustus the Strong, who founded the museum.

The thieves stashed the jewels in a sack, then used a fire extinguisher to erase traces of their DNA at the scene. Remmo and his co-conspirator fled the scene with other accomplices, burned their getaway car in a parking garage, then drove to Berlin in a vehicle disguised as a taxi.

Defendants sit next to their lawyers at the Higher Regional Court in Dresden, eastern Germany on January 10, 2023, prior to a hearing in the trial over a jewelry heist at the Green Vault museum in Dresden’s Royal Palace. Photo: Jens Schlueter/Pool/AFP via Getty Images.

Authorities in Germany announced last month that they retrieved 31 items stolen in the Green Vault heist after being pointed to their location as part of a deal with the suspect on trial. Other historically significant objects stolen in 2019—including the 49-carat Dresden White Diamond—remain missing. 

“I didn’t keep the loot. I didn’t have access to it,” Remmo said in court. “I don’t know what happened to it. I did all I could to ensure that what was left came back to Dresden.”

Two other suspects on trial, Wissam and Mohamed Remmo, also confessed to aiding the robbery. In statements read by their respective attorneys, the men explained that they didn’t enter the museum but instead waited outside as lookouts. 

A fourth defendant is expected to present a statement of his own in court this week, as part of a sentencing deal. Another suspect rejected the deal, while a sixth and final suspect on trial claims he did not participate in the theft. 

The defendants, all members of the extended Remmo crime family, have been on trial since January 2022. They face charges related to aggravated gang theft and serious arson, according to Dresden’s public prosecutor’s office.

Last week, the court recommended jail sentences that ranged in time from four years and nine months to six years and nine months. Hearings will continue later this week.

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Angela Davis, Forensic Architecture, and Other Art-World Figures Are Denouncing MoMA Board Members for Ties to Pro-Israel Organizations

More than 285 people, including activist Angela Davis and artist Michael Rakowitz, have signed an open letter denouncing members of the Museum of Modern Art’s board for having alleged ties to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.

The letter was organized by Strike MoMA, the name under which a coalition of activist groups have united for a 10-week-long protest of the museum, and published today by the Social Text Collective blog. Other signatories include artists Korakrit Arunandchai, Chloe Bass, Meriem Bennani, and Forensic Architecture; and scholars Ariella Azoulay, Claire Bishop, and Fred Moten.

“We feel it is urgent to highlight the connections between the ongoing violence of Israel against the Palestinian people and a leading institution of the art system, namely the Museum of Modern Art,” it reads. 

“This letter aims to build decolonial solidarity across borders by drawing attention to MoMA’s entanglement with the mutually reinforcing projects of settler-colonialism, imperialism, and racial capitalism in Palestine, the U.S., and around the world.” 

MoMA trustees Leon Black, Paula Crown, Ronald Lauder, Daniel Och, and Steven Tananbaum are “directly involved with support for Israel’s apartheid rule,” the letter contends.

Och, for instance, is a former chairman and current supporter of the Birthright Foundation, a controversial non-profit that sends Jewish youth to Israel on heritage trips meant to encourage Zionist beliefs. Black, meanwhile, has donated more than $1 million to Birthright. 

Tananbaum has supported similar causes, the letter notes, once donating $1.8 million through his foundation to the Art Institute of Chicago in order to send young adults to Israel. Lauder, MoMA’s honorary chair, currently serves as president of the World Jewish Congress, an international federation of Jewish organizations which has historically pushed Zionist policies.

“With figures like Lauder, Crown, and Tananbaum on its board, MoMA cannot pretend to stand apart from the attack on Gaza or the Occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem more broadly,” the letter goes on. “Given these entanglements, we must understand the museum for what it is: not only a multi-purpose economic asset for billionaires, but also an expanded ideological battlefield through which those who fund apartheid and profit from war polish their reputations and normalize their violence.”

Representatives from MoMA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The letter was published in conjunction with a planned protest at MoMA, the seventh in a string of 10 demonstrations that have taken place every Friday since early April. The fourth Strike MoMA protest ended in a heated standoff between demonstrators and security guards at the entrance to the institution with two security guards and one protester injured in the incident.

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Six Detroit Institute of Arts Board Members Have Resigned in Protest of Embattled Director Salvador Salort-Pons

Detroit Institute of Arts director Salvador Salort-Pons has come under fire again, as six museum board members have resigned in protest of his leadership.

At a meeting on Friday, the majority of the museum’s executive board voted to stay the course with a “performance plan” evaluating Salort-Pons that was put in place last month, reports the Detroit News.

“Some members disagreed and decided to resign,” board chairman Eugene Gargaro Jr. wrote in a statement provided to Midnight Publishing Group News.

Anne Fredericks, Mary Ann Gorlin, Julie Rothstein, Suzanne Shank, Carol Walters, and Celeste Watkins-Hayes all resigned from the 54-member board, along with Marc Schwartz, one of 32 emeritus board members. A seventh board member also resigned for unrelated reasons.

Gargaro thanked the departing board members for their service and said he was “sorry that these resignations have occurred. I wish that they all would have remained and continued to work with us to help the DIA reach its full potential,” Gargaro said. He added that the board plans to “solve serious internal concerns facing the museum” through “frequent monitoring and reporting on progress.”

The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan, USA. Courtesy Wikicommons.

The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan. Courtesy Wikicommons.

Concerns about Salort-Pons first surfaced in July, when he was accused of ethics violations, nepotism, and fostering a hostile work environment.

An anonymous collective of current and former museum employees known as DIA Staff Action lodged several complaints against the director, and the nonprofit group Whistleblower Aid alleged a conflict of interest in Salort-Pons’s decision to exhibit his father-in-law’s El Greco painting at the museum (which could have increased its value).

In October, the law firm Crowell and Moring found that Salort-Pons had not committed an ethics violation with regard to the El Greco, but the museum did not release the full report.

Earlier this month, a leaked audio recording of a senior staff meeting revealed other, less flattering findings about Salort-Pons that were apparently included in the report. Staffers, for instance, had described him as “erratic, autocratic, condescending, intolerant of dissent, and lacking in clear and effective communication.” Of particular concern was his treatment of women and employees of color.

“I am proud these board members have stood behind the women who have brought forward credible allegations of retaliation, sexism, cultural insensitivity, and a leadership culture that is misaligned with the mission and goals of the DIA,” Wayne County executive Warren Evans told the Detroit News. “Grievances aired by women employees of the DIA must be taken seriously by the museum’s executive leadership and its governing board.”

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