AN ARMED man has stolen up to 40 million euros of jewellery from a diamond exhibition in the Carlton Hotel in Cannes.
While the initial figure has been described as unreliable by the prosecutor investigating the incident, its confirmation would place the robbery as France's second most valuable.
A man, whose face was concealed behind a bandanna and a helmet, walked into the hotel through the front entrance brandishing a pistol and proceeded to stuff jewellery into bags before escaping.
Many people, including security staff, were present during the robbery although no one was injured.
The exposition “Extraordinary Diamonds” by Leviev had been on show since July 20 and was due to continue until the end of August.
Police in Cannes said they had not been made aware of the exposition, an action that is not a legal requirement but is standard behaviour for similar events that take place in the town.
During the Cannes Film Festival this year a two million euro diamond neckless was stolen at an evening event at Cap D'Antibes.
The Carlton, one of the group of prestigious hotels along the sea front Croisette at Cannes, was also the stage for scenes of Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief – a film about a series of robberies along the Côte d'Azur.
France's biggest robbery, of 80 million euros, is still leagues ahead. It took place at the Harry Winston jewellers, Paris in December 2008 – no one was ever caught.
UPDATE: Prosecutors have since announced the actual figure stolen was €103m of jewellery, making this the most expensive heist in French history.