Wearing a scarf to mask his face, the gunman held up at least three security guards and then fled the luxury Cannes hotel roughly a minute later with $136 million in diamond jewelry, more than twice the initial estimated worth of the loot. The simple, speedy theft is the biggest jewelry heist in years. Police had previously said yesterday's theft at the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel netted $53 million worth of treasure—even at that level a major haul. Philippe Vique, an assistant prosecutor, said the Dubai-based organizer of the diamond show had since raised the value based on a more complete inventory.
Vique described a canny, but quick and logistically simple, break-in. The suspect somehow got in through the hotel's locked French doors, which open onto Cannes' famed Croisette promenade, then held up the participants of the show with a handgun and fled on foot. The hold-up itself took about a minute, all with three private security guards, two vendors, and a manager of the sale-exhibit on hand. "He took a bag containing a briefcase and a small box, and then fled by another French door on the inside," Vique said. "He left on foot ... it was very fast." The luxury hotel featured prominently in Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief. (Read more Cannes stories.)