IT PROVIDED the breathtaking setting for one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous films – To Catch a Thief.
• £34 million worth of jewels and diamonds have been stolen from a luxury hotel in Cannes
• Theft took place in broad daylight, with unconfirmed reports suggesting an armed lone gunman behind the crime
Now the hotel where the iconic movie was filmed has become the centre of its own whodunnit after a thief stole millions of pounds worth of jewels from the lobby.
Diamonds and other jewels worth £34 million were stolen yesterday from the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel in Cannes, where Hitchcock filmed his 1955 movie about a jewel thief operating on the French Riviera.
The robbery happened when a man wearing gloves and with his face hidden by a scarf burst into the hotel in the late morning and demanded several bags containing jewels and diamond-encrusted watches. A source said the man was brandishing an automatic pistol. The lone gunman stuffed a suitcase with the precious gems before making a swift exit.
“Everything happened very quickly,” the source added.
The luxury hotel was hosting a temporary jewellery exhibition over the summer from the prestigious Leviev diamond house, which is owned by Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev.
The valuable gems were supposed to be on display until the end of August.
A Cannes police spokesman said: “A full and urgent operation is under way to catch the culprit and recover these jewels. Thieves see Cannes as rich pickings.”
Jonathan Sazonoff, US editor for the Museum Security Network website and an authority on high-end crime said the raid was a major heist. He said: “It’s a huge theft. Any time you talk about a heist with many millions of dollars it turns heads and feeds the imagination,”
Mr Sazonoff added that the likelihood of recovering the stolen jewels was slim because thieves can easily sell them on. He said: “They can be broken up so they can be easily smuggled and sold.”
Mr Sazonoff also said police would be likely to investigate whether yesterday’s heist was linked to recent jail escapes by members of the Pink Panther jewel thief gang.
On Thursday, a member of the gang escaped prison after accomplices rammed a gate and overpowered guards with bursts from their AK-47s,
Police say the Pink Panther network’s members are prime suspects in a series of daring thefts. According to Interpol, the group has targeted luxury watch and jewellery stores in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States, netting more than £285m since 1999.
The hotel last night refused to comment on the robbery but several police officers were yesterday guarding the front of the Carlton exhibition room.
Cannes film festival was hit by two jewellery thefts in May. A necklace reportedly worth £1.6m vanished after a celebrity party and more than £650,000 worth of jewels were taken from the hotel room of an employee of Swiss jewellers Chopard.