Chelsea art show gems thieves 'had key for cabinets'

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Thieves who stole millions of pounds of jewellery from a Chelsea art fair had a key to unlock secure cabinets, it was claimed today.

Detectives are hunting two men who calmly walked into the Masterpiece art show last week and unlocked a cabinet before stealing several pieces of diamond jewellery.

The men, both white and casually dressed, then locked the cabinet at the stand of Swiss jewellers Boghossian before strolling away.

A source likened the heist to the plot of the Pink Panther films.

Detectives are examining CCTV footage which apparently shows the two thieves walking into the art fair in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea on Tuesday last week, the day before it was due to close.

An insider said: “They walked in and went straight to the stand and to a particular window on the aisle. They were blocking the view of the CCTV but, apparently, one of them had a key and opened up the cabinet. 

“You could see the cabinet being opened and one of the men reaching with his hands inside, taking items out and then the cabinet being closed and locked.”

The source added: “They walked in and went straight to the Boghossian stand, took the items and left.

“They knew exactly what they were after. It was too smooth to be opportunistic — it is not like they had to break into anything.”

The theft took place at about 5.20pm but apparently went undiscovered until 9am the next day.  

One worker at the event said it was swarming with round-the-clock security, including covert guards and uniform police officers.

He said: “It was not the normal hospital security — these were all suited and booted and really meant business. It’s like the Pink Panther films or something.”

The exhibition, which attracts thousands of visitors, features sculpture, Parisian décor, fine jewellery and contemporary art. It describes itself as a “leading international event” for viewing buying the “finest works of art”.

One expert said the jewels were likely to be too recognisable to be sold on. Tobias Kormind, of 77 Diamonds in Mayfair, said: “The best way for the stones to be sold on the open market would be if they were re-cut to be slightly different and less obvious.”

The thieves were described as white, with one of them said to be in his thirties and the other aged between 35 and 40. Boghossian, which is based in Geneva but opened a store in London’s New Bond Street in 2013, has declined to comment.

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