a picture of Carlton Hotel

a picture of Carlton Hotel

A major diamond heist in Geneva nearly a decade ago made the news and investigators tried hard, but never found the culprits.

On July 28th in the year 2013 in Cannes, France just after the Cannes Film Festival, a high-end robbery happened on the Cote d’Azur which overshadowed the festival and worried everyone nearby. Cannes is the center of the French Riviera. People who have money go to spend money and do lots of stupid things. It’s one place to show off their luxury to everyone around them. It came as no surprise that a major diamond heist took place here—it was only a matter of time.

Preparing the Diamond Heist

On the Promenade de la Croisette, which follows the coast line, sits the InterContinental Carlton Hotel. It’s a place where the rich and famous—from Hollywood celebrities to famous millionaires—come to stay during their time in Cannes. A diamond business called Leviev put on a jewelry event called Extraordinary Diamonds.

Late that morning, security guards, employees, and the manager worked to set up the event. They transferred the diamonds from the safe into their display cases. A man stormed inside with a semi-automatic gun, wearing a baseball cap and a scarf to hide his face. He threatened the staff and used bags to fill with the diamonds from the event. Less than a minute later, he left through a different door. He had rushed so much that witnesses reported to police later that he had been fumbling, so he had dropped several of the diamonds out of the bags during his escape.

A Huge Haul

But it wasn’t just diamonds he had stolen; he also took emeralds, sapphires, necklaces, earrings, and rings, some of the finest jewelry around. In total, he took seventy two pieces worth over a hundred and thirty million dollars.

Conspiracy theories believe that that the war veterans group called the Pink Panthers were behind the heist because the hotel was the site of the Pink Panther movie. After the war, they used jewelry theft to make a living . Even though many members of Pink Panther have been caught and arrested over the years, some police and investigators believe there could still be well over eight hundred Pink Panther members still committing diamond heists all over the world. Some other known Pink Panther jobs include the Graff Jewelry stolen from a store in a mall in Dubai in 2007, and in 2008 when four robbers posing as women used a hand grenade to threaten staff in a jewelry store and made off with over a hundred million dollars in jewels.

An Inside Job?

So, the robbery of the Carlton Hotel could have been another Pink Panther heist. However, a few months before the robbery took place, an employee of the Swiss jeweler named Chopard reported over one hundred million dollars in jewelry stolen. During the festival, a robber broke into Chopard’s room at the Novotel hotel. As the festival ended, a jeweler from Geneva threw a party but when the jewels were returned to their safe after being on display, a two million dollar necklace had vanished. Even though the robbers of Chopard’s jewels were found, the Geneva-jeweler’s robbers never were. It could have been connected with the School of Turin, who are responsible for the 2003 Antwerp Diamond Centre heist. Nobody knows for sure and to this day, none of the jewelry from Leviev has been found.