Sunday 22 April 2018

Jewel heist is 'biggest ever' with gems valued at €102m

A view of the Carlton Hotel, in Cannes, France, where the raid took place
A view of the Carlton Hotel, in Cannes, France, where the raid took place

Dean Grey Cannes

THE value of a single haul of jewellery stolen from the most glamorous hotel in Cannes has almost tripled to €102m, making it the largest ever heist of its kind.

Detectives in the French Riviera town said staff at the Carlton, a favourite of Hollywood movie stars, had woefully underestimated how much the diamonds and jewel-encrusted watches were worth.

The new figures came as details emerged of the security failures that allowed a lone gunman to stroll into the hotel on Sunday lunchtime and make off with the jewellery without firing a single shot.

Wearing a crash helmet and scarf to cover his face, he simply brandished his pistol at staff before walking into a bedroom where the jewellery was being stored.

Estimates for the value of the haul, which was due to be part of a temporary exhibition by the Leviev diamond house, originally varied between €35m and €40m. But local prosecutor Philippe Vique, said a complete inventory put the figure at "far closer" to €103m.

Mr Vique said that rather than using the hotel's main entrance, the suspect got into the hotel through French windows which had been left open because of the midday heat.

It came as Cannes police admitted that, despite its worth, they had not been warned that the Extraordinary Diamonds exhibition was taking place.

Staff union representatives at the Carlton have also expressed concern at the lack of security around prestige exhibitions.

In August 1994, a security guard was shot at the Carlton as he tried to stop thieves making off with gems in a similar exhibition.The Carlton, which opened in 1911, was where the 1955 Alfred Hitchcock thriller 'To Catch a Thief', starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, was filmed. Grant played a jewel thief.

Mr Leviev likes his diamonds to be seen in around celebrities, who abound on the French Riviera from May until September.

Irish Independent

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