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The heist was pulled off by a single gunman whose face was covered by a hat and a scarf.
A thief stole about $53 million worth of jewelry from an exhibition in the lobby of the Carlton Hotel in Cannes, France, on Sunday.
Pieces containing diamonds and other gems from the Leviev diamond house, owned by Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, were snatched by the robber.
The heist was pulled off by a single gunman whose face was covered by a hat and a scarf, Philippe Vique, deputy prosecutor for organized crime in the prosecutor's office for the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, told CNN. He threatened to shoot the exhibitors and guests, then filled a suitcase with the jewelry and fled.
There were security guards present, but they were unarmed.
The Carlton Hotel is where Alfred Hitchcock filmed “To Catch A Thief,” a 1955 film about a jewel thief in the French Riviera, BBC News noted.
Cannes has already seen two high-profile jewelry robberies this year, both during the film festival there in May.
First, about $1 million worth of jewelry was nabbed from the hotel room of a Chopard employee. Then thieves took a $2.5 million necklace by Swiss jeweler De Grisogono after a party at a five-star hotel in Cap d'Antibes.
Jonathan Sazonoff, US editor for the Museum Security Network website, told the Associated Press that it’s likely the jewels are gone forever. "If you're dealing with high-quality minerals, it's hard to get them back," Sazonoff said. "They can be broken up and so they can be easily smuggled and sold."