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Europe

Jewel Thieves Pull Off Major Heist in Paris

Armed men -- some reportedly in drag -- pulled off one of the largest jewel heists of all time in the heart of Paris. They stole all the displays in a Harry Winston store, and more.

Photo of a jewelry shop with a broken window

The thieves -- some in drag -- knew the store well

The robbers broke into the renowned Harry Winston jeweler on posh Avenue Montaigne, and made off with gems and other merchandise worth somewhere between 50 million euros and 80 milion euros ($64 million to $102 million), French media reported on Friday, Dec. 5.

The hold-up took place late Thursday afternoon. Police said the robbers, some some dressed in drag, were very familiar with the store, calling some of the employees by name.

The robbers took all the merchandise exhibited in the shop windows and display cases, but also knew where some of the merchandise was kept that was not on display.

Some of the thieves spoke a foreign language, police said.

Christies auctioned off this gulf natural pearl and diamond necklace by Harry Winston as part of a sale from the largest single owner jewellery collection ever to be sold at auction collection, in 2006

Harry Winston is one of the world's best-known jewelers

Citing sources close to the investigation, France 2 television reported Friday that the value of the stolen loot is estimated at between 50 million euros and 80 million euros. If confirmed, it would make it one of the largest successful jewel heists of all time.

Anniversary robbery?

Harry Winston is one of the world's most renowned jewelers. He designed the famous tiara worn by Empress Farah Diba for her wedding to Shah Mohammed Reza of Iran. The tiara's centrepiece was the 60-carat Nur-ul-Ain pink diamond.

Harry Winston also cut the famous 69.42-carat pear-shaped diamond the late actor Richard Burton bought for his wife Elizabeth Taylor's 40th birthday.

Almost exactly one year ago, on Dec. 6, 2007, the Paris store was broken into and robbed of some 10 million euros worth of jewelry.

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