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Stolen Cannes jewels worth close to $136M, official says

By Alex Felton, CNN
July 30, 2013 -- Updated 1337 GMT (2137 HKT)
In 1978 gangster Jimmy "The Gent" Burke stole $8 million in cash and jewels from John F. Kennedy International Airport. It was considered the largest robbery in U.S. history at the time. Burke died in 1996 while serving 20 years to life in a New York prison when he fell ill with cancer. On January 23, five alleged mobsters were arrested on racketeering charges related to the 1978 heist. In 1978 gangster Jimmy "The Gent" Burke stole $8 million in cash and jewels from John F. Kennedy International Airport. It was considered the largest robbery in U.S. history at the time. Burke died in 1996 while serving 20 years to life in a New York prison when he fell ill with cancer. On January 23, five alleged mobsters were arrested on racketeering charges related to the 1978 heist.
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Top heists around the world
Top heists around the world
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A police official said earlier that the jewels were worth about $53 million
  • The heist is the third major gem or jewelry robbery in the Cannes area this year
  • Sunday's heist happened at a jewelry exhibition at the Carlton Hotel

Cannes (CNN) -- The value of jewels stolen from an exhibition in the French resort city of Cannes on Sunday is close to $136 million -- more than twice the amount stated in earlier reports -- the Nice prosecutor's office told CNN Monday.

The robbery -- the third such heist around the city since May -- happened Sunday morning at a jewelry exhibition at the Carlton Hotel, according to Philippe Vique, deputy prosecutor for organized crime in the prosecutor's office.

Earlier, a Nice police official told CNN on condition of anonymity that the jewels were worth about $53 million.

The robber, whose face was covered by a hat and a scarf, had a semiautomatic pistol and threatened to shoot the exhibitors and guests, Vique said.

Jewelry thefts reported at Cannes

Cannes hit by another jewel heist
Jewel heist in Cannes

Security guards were present but unarmed, he said. No one was injured.

The gems were supposed to have been on display until the end of August.

The robbery follows two major jewel heists this year at events tied to the Cannes Film Festival.

During the festival in May, a necklace worth $2.6 million was stolen from a hotel party shortly after jewels worth more than $1 million were stolen from a safe in a hotel room.

Jeweler de Grisogono said the necklace was part of a collection making its debut.

The jewels stolen in May were from the Swiss firm Chopard, which was sponsoring the festival.

Notable diamond heists

CNN's Stephanie Halasz, Vladimir Duthiers and Lauren Russell contributed to this report.

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