Life imitates art in $1m break-in at Cannes after heist film shown

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Thieves ripped out a small safe from the wall of a hotel room near the Cannes Film Festival and made off with about $1m (£650,000) of jewellery, French police say.

Cmdr Bernard Mascarelli, a judicial police spokesman in Nice, said the robbery at the Novotel hotel took place in the room of a representative of Swiss-based jeweller Chopard.

The crime occurred just hours after the screening at Cannes of The Bling Ring, based on a true story, about teens who broke into the homes of stars to steal designer bags, shoes and clothes from their homes.

The jewellery was “very probably” in the hotel in connection with the festival, Mr Mascarelli said, though he didn’t know who it might have been intended for. Chopard is a festival sponsor and has loaned jewellery to A-list stars who walk up the festival’s famed red carpet under the rapid-fire flashes of photographers’ cameras. This year model Carla Devigne and actress Julianne Moore have walked the carpet in Chopard gems.

Mascarelli said he didn’t know the exact type of jewels taken or their exact value.

“Numbers have been put forward that we’re still trying to verify, but the figure of one million ... we’re in that range,” he said.

Jean-Michel Caillau, the prosecutor in nearby Grasse who is leading an investigation, said early estimates were that the loot could have been worth as much as $1.4m (£920,000) . He also said the theft appeared to have taken place around 2.30am.

A Paris-based spokeswoman for Chopard, said the company would not comment. Melissa Levine, a spokeswoman for Accor, the French hospitality giant behind Novotel, also declined comment. Dozens of police were involved in the investigation, and police vehicles could be seen outside the hotel.

Authorities were going over hotel surveillance cameras and questioning potential witnesses who might have seen any culprits, and “it seems pretty unlikely to us that it was just one person,” Mr 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 said.

On Thursday, Chopard hosted a star-studded gala and the festival screened Sofia Coppola’s drama about celebrity-obsessed teenagers in Los Angeles who break into the homes of Paris Hilton and other stars based on a true story about high-school students who raided homes when they knew stars were at premieres.