Israeli Billionaire Lev Leviev was “taken” several weeks ago to the tune of 136 million dollars by jewel thieves in a daring daylight heist on the French Riviera – and the insurance company that is footing the bill for Leviev's losses wants those jewels. Lloyd's of London, the world famous insurance agency, is offering a reward of one million euros for information leading to the capture of the thieves, the company announced Tuesday.
The jewels were on display at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes, in the south of France, as part of an exhibition of rare diamonds and jewels. A masked gunman entered the hotel and demanded the jewels, which had been packed up in a suitcase. The thief absconded, suitcase in hand, and disappeared. Police immediately opened an investigation into the theft, one of the largest jewel heists in Europe in recent years.
Initial estimates placed the value of the stolen gems at about 40 million euros, but when Leviev filed the insurance claim on behalf one of the companies he controls for the lost jewels, it turned out that the diamonds were worth far more - $136 million. Police said they are still seeking clues that could lead to capture of the thieves.
One theory police are following up on is that the Leviev jewel heist was committed by a gang that has robbed other jewel displays elsewhere in Europe. During the recent Cannes film festival last May, thieves twice stole jewels that were on display as part of the same exhibition. Those thefts were far smaller though, with the jewels stolen in May worth no more than three million euros.
The Carlton Hotel in Cannes is famous for another jewel heist – one featured in the 1955 Alfred Hitchcock film “To Catch a Thief,” in which a retired jewel thief is accused of carrying out a major theft at the hotel.