Four hooded thieves were already inside Harry Winston
Paris—along with $36,683,281 in well-defended jewels—when the boutique opened
on October 6, 2007. How they got there defied explanation. The keys, which are
kept off-site each night by a protective services company, were delivered as
usual to Harry Winston’s security guard at 9:30 a.m. Following protocol, the
guard then waited outside the building for the staff to arrive. Employees
aren’t permitted to enter the premises alone, nor may they leave with the keys.
Harry Winston is famous for selling, as its motto puts it, Rare Jewels of the World. The Paris retail outlet occupies a neoclassical château on Avenue Montaigne in the luxe Golden Triangle district of the Champs-Élysées, set among such haute couture flagships as Dior, Gucci, and Valentino. One emerald necklace at Harry Winston that Saturday cost nearly $3 million. It would soon vanish, along with all the other rocks in the store. The heist lasted less than half an hour.
It began at 9:50 a.m., when import-export director Anne-Marie Capdeville arrived, authorizing the security guard to open the side entrance. They passed through the safety vestibule, and he turned off the general alarm. Harry’s grand salon smelled the way it always does: a faint fragrance of white orchids. The guard dropped off the keys at his workstation, then headed to the bathroom, passing glass display cases of ruby earrings, sapphire cluster bracelets, and platinum watches frosted with brilliants. There was no reason to think, given the sophisticated alarm system in place—and the police station a few doors down the block—that the entirety of the shop’s glittering contents could be stolen, especially in the Right Bank daylight.
Read more about the almost unsolvable Harry Winston diamond heists on the Vanity Fair website HERE