Yes, Cannes Film Festival celebrates triumphs in filmmaking but, really, we’re here for the red carpet diamonds. From Kate Moss’s antique diamond earrings in 1997 to Elizabeth Taylor’s famous 1957 tiara, the glamorous moments are truly unforgettable, and so are the diamond heists.
The 2013 diamond heist at the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel, an iconic spot along the Mediterranean that has played a part in Cote d’Azur history for over 100 years, where $136 million worth of diamonds and jewelry were stolen by a group called The Pink Panthers.
Ahead, relive the highs and lows of Cannes, from the thrilling and scandalous to the glitz and glamorous.
A hotel like the Carlton in a city like Cannes is synonymous with the glamour of diamonds. Aside from the diamond-draped partons and red carpet events, the hotel has been hosting diamond exhibitions and private shows for years. The high value of diamonds as a finite natural product also comes with the attention of those who wish to steal
Diamond Heists at the Carlton Cannes Hotel
Two of the highest value diamond heists in real life have coincidentally taken place at the Carlton Cannes Hotel, the same location for Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly which romanticized diamond heists and was set in the Carlton Hotel.
In 1994, the hotel’s jewelry store was stormed by masked men armed with machine guns who made off with $77 million in diamonds. Luckily no one was hurt as it was found out later that their machine guns were loaded with harmless blanks. The thieves were never caught, and the diamonds were never recovered.
In 2013 an even more spectacular diamond heist took place in a private salon at the hotel hosting a diamond exhibition by billionaire Lev Leviev. A lone jewel thief strolled into the salon in the morning before it opened to the public. The diamonds, yet to be placed in the display cases, were confined to two bags. After entering the room through possibly unlocked glass doors that open to the main street, the lone thief grabbed the two bags without incident or gunfire and escaped through a window. As he lept through the window and tripped, some of the diamonds spilled onto the street. Despite being possibly the costliest heist of all time at $136 million, the man or the diamonds were never recovered
The spectacular theft behind this diamond heist, which police called “absolutely incredible,” raised suspicion that it was perpetrated by the notorious jewel thief gang dubbed “The Pink Panthers.” Only days before, two prison breakouts freed three critical members of the gang that police estimate to be responsible for more than $400 million in jewel theft in the last couple of decades.
Kate Moss’s Antique Earrings
Kate Moss surprised us all when she stepped out onto the world’s most glamorous red carpet in a chic and understated Narciso Rodriquez shift dress and a pair of major antique diamond earrings from her own personal collection. It was Moss’s first time at the film festival and at 23 years old, she most certainly left a lasting impression on the public. She told Vogue the same year, “jewelry is eternal. It never goes out of fashion. It will always be there.”
Sharon Stone famously flashed her bedazzled hot shorts to the paparazzi at the 1995 premiere of Unzipped but her eye-popping Valentino outfit wasn’t the only thing that catches the eye. Her statement diamond necklace and matching earrings were just as sparkly as her ensemble.
The queen of a red carpet diamond, Elizabeth Taylor wore so many incredible pieces at Cannes, most notably her diamond tiara, a gift from her third husband Mike Todd. According to Christie’s, who auctioned the tiara in 2011, it’s designed as nine old mine-cut diamond scrolls with larger old mine-cut diamond terminals, spaced by old mine-cut diamond latticework motifs, mounted in platinum and gold, circa 1880. “When Mike gave me this jewel, he said to me: ‘You are my queen, and I think you should have a tiara,’” Taylor said in her book My Love Affair with Jewelry.
In 1987 she came back to Cannes wearing even more dazzling diamonds, including the famous Krupp Diamond engagement ring from Richard Burton, renamed the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond after her death. She paired it with the King Farouk Bracelet, an Art Deco Egyptian Revival bracelet from Harry Winston that featured hieroglyphic motifs. The earrings were another gift from her third husband, Mike Todd.