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Update: Cannes jewel heist worth over €100 million

The heist took place in broad daylight at a diamond exhibition at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes.

Police outside the Carlton hotel, in Cannes after the heist.
Police outside the Carlton hotel, in Cannes after the heist.
Image: Lionel Cironneau/AP

Updated 17:22

AN ARMED MAN stole jewels with an estimated value of €103 million in a brazen heist in broad daylight at a diamond exhibition in the French Riviera resort of Cannes yesterday, investigators said.

The hold-up, at the Carlton Hotel on the promenade in Cannes, famous for its annual film festival, would be the second largest ever in France if the value of the jewels is confirmed.

Authorities said the robbery took place around 11:30am local time and targeted an exhibition entitled “Extraordinary Diamonds” by the Leviev jewellery house.

A lone gunman, wearing a baseball cap with his face hidden by a “bandana or scarf”, entered the hotel through a front entrance undisturbed as security guards patrolled the premises, according to the prosecutor’s office.

“It all happened very quickly and without any violence,” it said, adding that the robber, armed with a semi-automatic pistol, escaped with a briefcase containing jewels and watches encrusted with diamonds.

The worth of the haul had initially been estimated as €40 million but after an inventory of the exhibition, prosecutors in Grasse near Cannes have concluded it is valued at the much higher €103.

Exhibition

Police said they had not been alerted that the exhibition was taking place, which while not a legal requirement would ordinarily be standard procedure for luxury hotels such as the Carlton.

The “Extraordinary Diamonds” exhibition was held in a wing of the hotel with direct access to the street.

Huge posters of the diamonds with images of pink flowers had been affixed to the walls to advertise the jewels’ presence to the public.

On its website, Leviev, which opened its first jewellery store in London on Old Bond Street in 2006, claims to have access to stones “among the most outstanding in the world.”

An inventory was now underway, and should be completed today, a source close to the investigation said. The estimate of 40 million could not be confirmed, but “tens of millions of euros” were likely to have been lost, the source said.

The management at the Carlton Hotel declined to comment when contacted by AFP, saying they had “instructions not to say anything.”

The Carlton was the location for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 Oscar-winning thriller “To Catch A Thief”, starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.

The diamond heist was one of the largest in recent years in France.

- © AFP 2013.

First published 11:48

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