CRIME
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Fame and celebrity

French authorities hunt Kim Kardashian’s assailants as speculation mounts that heist was ‘inside job’

Fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld criticises reality TV star for flaunting her wealth

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 October, 2016, 8:40am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 October, 2016, 10:01pm

French police on Tuesday continued hunting for five people suspected of assaulting Kim Kardashian in a private Paris residence before robbing her of more than US$10 million worth of jewellery.

Paris police said they were analysing footage from surveillance cameras to try to identify the assailants, who wore fake police emblems on their jackets.

After forcing their way into the American celebrity’s apartment in the chic eighth district, the robbers held her up at gunpoint and locked her in a bathroom before escaping on bicycles in the early hours of Monday. They stole a jewellery box containing items worth 6 million as well as a ring worth 4 million.

You cannot display your wealth then be surprised that some people want to share it
Karl Lagerfeld, fashion designer

Kardashian, who was in the French capital to attend fashion week shows, returned to the US Monday.

Paris prosecutors on Tuesday declined to answer whether the robbers had received help from the reality TV star’s entourage. Kardashian’s stylist was also in the residence at the time, and alerted police, but Kardashian’s bodyguard was not present, according to the prosecutor’s office.

The reality star’s two children, three-year-old North and 10-month-old Saint, were in New York with their father, Kanye West, when the robbery happened.

Interpol declined to comment on reports suggesting the notorious “Pink Panther” jewel thieves could have played a role in the robbery, saying that would be speculation. According to the world’s largest international police organisation, that gang has stolen 334 million in jewels from 380 armed robberies between 1999 and 2015.

Meanwhile, fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld criticised Kardashian for being too flashy with her money. Chanel’s couturier suggested Kardashian was partly to blame for the heist.

“[She is] too public, too public – we have to see in what time we live. You cannot display your wealth then be surprised that some people want to share it,” Lagerfeld said after the Chanel show.

“I don’t understand why [Kardashian] was in a hotel with no security and things like this. If you are that famous and you put all your jewellery on the net you go to hotels where nobody can come near to the room.”

Experts, however, suggest the robbers who targeted Kardashian would struggle to dispose of their loot.

Sandrine Marcot, acting president of the French union of jewellers and watchmakers, said the value of the haul would “crash” due to the media hype around the heist and the recognisability of the stolen goods.

“Everyone knows that ring. It won’t be easy to get rid of it,” a police source said.

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Last week, Kardashian had posted a Twitter photograph of her left hand sporting a huge diamond sparkler – reportedly a 20-carat ring by Lorraine Schwartz given to her by her husband.

“These are not everyday jewels. These are unique pieces,” Marcot said, predicting the spoils of the raid would be cut into smaller gems to conceal their origin.

Precious stones often come stamped with a laser mark, making them “extremely easy to trace”, Marcot said.

Some laser marks are so deep they are impossible to cover up but others can be concealed by savvy polishing, making the stone “difficulty to identify, unlike, for example, a stolen painting,” the police source said.

In most cases, the robbers work with several intermediaries, including a shady jeweller in charge of whittling down the gem into less conspicuous stones. But a gem that has been recut is worth only a fraction of its initial value.

Kardashian’s ring could lose three-quarters of its value after being reworked, according to police.