PARIS — Five men burst into The Ritz Paris hotel on Wednesday and attempted to steal several million euros’ worth of jewelry in the most high-profile heist in the French capital in several years.
Armed with hatchets, the robbers smashed display cases containing the jewels, causing guests to flee in panic.
Three men were immediately arrested, Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said on Twitter. Two other men escaped with jewelry by Alexandre Reza worth 4.5 million euros, according to 24-hour news channel BFM TV.
However, Ritz spokeswoman Anne Benichou said the loot was recovered after the thieves dropped it inside the hotel.
“We were extremely lucky,” she told WWD, declining to identify the jeweler targeted. The Ritz is home to boutiques operated by two brands, Reza and Tasaki, but also houses display cases with creations by neighboring Place Vendôme jewelers.
Olivier Reza, who has taken over the brand founded by his late father, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Benichou said the hotel’s restaurants and bars were open again following the incident, which occurred just before 7 p.m.
“We had a little break-in but it was nothing serious. Nobody was injured,” she said. “No jewelry was stolen. The loot was recovered.”
French author Frédéric Beigbeder was among the guests having drinks at the Hemingway Bar when the thieves broke in, and hid in the hotel’s basement, French daily Le Figaro reported.
Security in the area has been tightened since a spate of spectacular robberies in 2013 and 2014, prompting thieves to target individuals rather than stores and hotels.
The most famous victim of a jewelry theft in Paris is Kim Kardashian. A gang made off with personal items valued at $5 million, including her Lorraine Schwartz engagement ring, during the armed robbery in Paris in October 2016.