Louvre thieves walk off with EUR 11.5m diamonds

28th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 27 (AFP) - Thieves snatched two diamonds worth a total of EUR 11.5 million (USD 14.1 million) from an antique dealers' show in a bold heist Monday at the Louvre museum complex in Paris, police said.

PARIS, Sept 27 (AFP) - Thieves snatched two diamonds worth a total of EUR 11.5 million (USD 14.1 million) from an antique dealers' show in a bold heist Monday at the Louvre museum complex in Paris, police said.  

The crooks apparently made their move on a stand operated by Swiss jewellery label Chopard when employees stepped away from the booth for about 15 minutes, according to a preliminary investigation.  

They broke into a display case, making off with a 47-carat diamond worth an estimated EUR 6 million and a second stone of about 30 carats worth EUR 5.5 million.  

Police said there were no surveillance cameras or alarms on site at the showrooms below the Louvre, a facility that is often used for trade and fashion shows.  

But Chopard co-chairwoman Caroline Gruosi denied her employees had left the booth unattended.   

"That is absolutely untrue," she told AFP. "If anything there were more staff present than usual as they were expecting a visit from the wife of the prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin.  

"There were a great many people around. It happened in a matter of seconds. These were obviously professionals who broke into the display case. We immediately closed the stand, alerted the police and took finger prints," she said.  

She also said that the value and weight of the stolen diamonds given by police were incorrect, but did not say what the correct values were.  

The Antique Dealers Biennale at the Carrousel du Louvre, which began on September 15 and runs through Tuesday, brings together more than 100 antiques and jewellery dealers who display their most rare, and most expensive, pieces.  

Also on display at the Biennale was the 128.48-carat "Star of the South", one of the world's most famous diamonds known for its pinkish-brown colour.

The jewellery house Cartier had put the precious gem up for sale.   The fair's president, Christian Deydier, also rejected accusations that the stand had been left unattended.   He also refused to confirm the value of the gems.   

"We don't give that out during the Biennale, and we're even less inclined to do so now, because of the confidentiality of the investigation," he said.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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