Lloyd’s Comments on Record Cannes Jewelry Heist

August 6, 2013

An article on the Lloyd’s of London website notes that the value of diamonds stolen in an armed robbery in Cannes on July 28 “has been estimated at nearly £90 million [€100 million, $133 million], making it one of the world’s biggest jewelry thefts, and highlighting the risks of exhibiting precious gems.”

The gems were seized from an exhibition by the jeweler Leviev from the luxury Carlton Hotel in the French Riviera resort of Cannes on July 28. Lloyd’s also noted that the “theft is the largest in a series of high-profile jewelry heists in Cannes, which is famous for its annual film festival.

“The Cannes film festival in May this year was hit by two high-profile jewelry heists. In the first, Swiss jeweler Chopard had gems reportedly worth $1.4 million stolen from a hotel room and in the second, a diamond necklace worth £1.7 million ($2.66 million) disappeared during a party, according to the jeweler, De Grisogono.”

“These jewelry companies want to advertise their wares and they do this in various different ways, explained James MacNaughton, an underwriter for specie and fine art at Ascot. “At such events it is not uncommon for jewelry companies to lend the models, actresses and actors various pieces to enhance their outfit, look decorative and with each individual piece make a statement as well as perhaps creating a talking point.”

However, there is a risk of loss or theft to whoever owns the goods, and therefore insurance is required. “Underwriters are prepared to write that risk subject to various security requirements and the terms and conditions of the policy including the necessary clauses,” MacNaughton explained. “What is unique about writing this class of business is the considerable values now involved in insuring diamonds and jewelry combined with the obvious portable nature of the items.”

He went on to discuss the “high levels of security” that are required by the underwriters, including having security guards and CCTV cameras in place. Unfortunately, Cannes seems to be somewhat lacking in these requirements, as the recent spate of robberies all too graphically demonstrates.

MacNaughton noted: “For insurers there is a substantial, and in many cases a massive, accumulation of value at exhibitions and shows, as jewelers from around the world come to display their goods and entice custom. People are coming to look and feel the goods, so the risk is definitely enhanced by the fact that the goods are away from the traditional premises, even if they are and would have to be, professionally run and organized ‘show’ venues.”

Although Lloyd’s hasn’t announced it in so many words, it’s fair to assume that some of its syndicates wrote coverage for the stolen diamonds. BBC International news reported that Lloyd’s was offering a €1 million ($1.3 million) reward for information leading to the recovery of the jewels. French news channel BFM TV also reported the offer, as did Channel 2 on its midday news program. Lloyd’s, however, has not yet made a public announcment.

Source: Lloyd’s of London and news reports.

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