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Cannes loses sparkle after €300,000 hotel jewel raid

Robbers make off with Chopard haul intended for famous necks
  • @MrNickClark

Robbers made off with a haul of jewels worth more than €300,000 (£250,000) today during a raid on a Cannes hotel, hours after the screening of a film about a gang who stole luxury goods and cash from the rich and famous.

The jewels were taken at around 5am from a room in the Hotel Novotel on the Boulevard Carnot, close to theseafront and the Palais des Festivals, where screenings for the 66th Cannes Film Festival take place.

The pieces were stolen from the hotel room of an employee of the luxury Swiss jeweller Chopard, which also makes the Palme d’Or and other trophies for the festival.

A safe containing the jewels was cut free by an intruder and carried off, according to a spokesman for the Police Judiciare in Nice. Officers are sifting through security camera footage from around the hotel for clues.

Commander Bernard Mascarelli said: “Apparently this [hotel guest] was someone who was targeted because it wasn’t someone who had been seeking attention...There must have been either an inside complicity, or people who were in contact with this person and knew that the person had jewels.” He added that it seemed “pretty unlikely” the theft had been the work of one person.

The police said the value of the stolen goods was more than $1m – a figure disputed by Chopard. The company confirmed the theft in a brief statement, saying: “An employee of Chopard jewellery house has been the victim of a robbery last night in their hotel room while not on premises.” It added that the “value of the pieces stolen is far lower than those circulating in the media”.

The company added  that, despite reports to the contrary, the jewels were “not part of the collection that are worn by actresses during the Cannes Film Festival” .

The British supermodel Cara Delevingne and actresses Julianne Moore and Freida Pinto all wore Chopard jewellery at the opening of this year’s film festival.

The heist took place just hours after the premiere of The Bling Ring, a true story of teenagers who broke into homes of the rich and famous in Los Angeles and made off with a haul of nearly $3m. The film, directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Emma Watson, earned praise from critics after its debut on Thursday.

Chopard has made the Palme d’Or for the festival since 1998. This year’s trophy, which is worth more than €20,000 (£17,000), was not in the stolen safe, festival organisers said.

The company is a byword for opulence, and its creations can often be seen adorning actresses’ ears, necks and arms at awards ceremonies and premieres. The winner of this year’s best actress Oscar, Jennifer Lawrence, wore its jewels, as did Hilary Swank, Helen Mirren and Kate Winslet.

When Chopard began sponsoring Cannes, it had a team of four working on the Riviera. Now it has 40 staff there ensuring that its jewellery makes its way onto the biggest names at the festival.

In an interview with the London Evening Standard on Wednesday, Caroline Scheufele, Chopard’s co-vice president, said: “Cannes is such an important moment in an actress’s career. They have to look their best. We just try to help a bit.”

It is not the first time that a major theft has taken place in Cannes. In 2009, robbers wearing Hawaiian shirts held up a Cartier boutique, making off on motorbikes with jewels, watches and luxury goods worth almost £13m.

'It's a bit like Bradford': New discovery’s verdict on Cannes

When two working-class lads from Bradford auditioned for roles in a film, they could never have believed that they would end up bringing it to the French Riviera and Europe’s glitziest film festival.

Conner Chapman, 13, and Shaun Thomas, 15, are among the festival’s discoveries for their performances in The Selfish Giant, directed by Clio Barnard, which critics have called  “astonishing”. They said yesterday they never dreamed they could make it to Cannes.

Conner, pictured in a scene from the film, said: “I always used to watch famous people and think, ‘I want to do that, but I probably won’t be able to’. I won’t be able to stop smiling when we go to the movie tonight.”

Shaun added: “It’s like wanting to be a footballer. You don’t think it can happen but it’s about getting the right opportunities, isn’t it?”

He had never been to France before, while Conner had visited once to watch Bradford Bulls play a match.

The boys arrived in Cannes on Thursday night, ahead of the film’s official screening as part of the Directors’ Fortnight, only to be met with English weather. “We were looking forward to it,” Shaun said. “But when we got here it was pouring with rain. It wasn’t much better than Bradford.”

The film is based on the Oscar Wilde story of the same name. Conner plays Arbor, who is excluded from school along with his friend Swifty, played by Shaun. They end up collecting metal for a scrap dealer, which causes tensions and ultimately leads to a tragic turn of events that changes their lives.