$1 million in jewelry stolen near Cannes film fest
Reporters gather outside the Novotel hotel during the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Friday, May 17, 2013. A French police official says a thief or thieves stole about $1 million worth in jewelry inside a safe in a Novotel hotel room, against the backdrop of the Riviera resort town’s film festival. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
PARIS (AP) — Thieves ripped a safe from the wall of a hotel room near the Cannes Film Festival and made off with around $1 million worth of jewelry, in a brazen late-night burglary just hours after the screening of a film about break-ins at the homes of Hollywood celebrities, French officials said Friday.
The apparently well-planned robbery at the Novotel hotel took place in the room of an employee of Chopard, the Swiss-based watch and jewelry maker and festival sponsor that was hosting a splashy gala event in a far ritzier hotel around the same time, officials said.
Chopard has loaned jewelry to A-list stars who walk on the festival's famed red carpet under rapid-fire flashes of photographers' cameras. Already this year model Carla Delevingne and actress Julianne Moore have walked the carpet in Chopard gems.
"The jewels stolen are not part of the collection of jewels that are worn by actresses during the Cannes film festival," Chopard spokeswoman Raffaella Rossiello told reporters in a brief statement Friday.
Cmdr. Bernard Mascarelli, a judicial police spokesman in the nearby city of Nice, said he didn't know the exact type of jewelry taken, or its exact value. "Numbers have been put forward that we're still trying to verify, but the figure of $1 million ... we're in that range," he said. Jean-Michel Caillau, a state prosecutor in nearby Grasse who is leading the investigation, said early estimates were that the loot could have been worth as much as $1.4 million.
Police cars park outside a hotel during the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Friday May 17, 2013. A French police official says a thief or thieves stole about $1 million worth in jewelry inside a safe in a Novotel hotel room, against the backdrop of the Riviera resort town’s film festival. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
Rossiello countered that, saying: "The value of the pieces stolen is far lower than those in the figures circulating in the media." She did not say why the jewelry was brought to the Novotel during the film festival, or take reporters' questions.
The theft was believed to have taken place sometime between 7 p.m. Thursday and 3 a.m. Friday, said Mascarelli, when the Chopard employee returned to the hotel room and noticed the damage. Mascarelli said he did not know whether the employee had been attending a Chopard gala that was running late into the night at the 5-star Hotel Martinez across town, where the company has a suite during the festival.
News of the robbery sent journalists scurrying to the Novotel, a business hotel about a 15-minute walk from Cannes' seafront promenade. Dozens of police were involved in the investigation, and police vehicles could be seen outside the hotel Friday afternoon. Authorities were going over hotel surveillance cameras and questioning potential witnesses who might have seen any culprits.