Gems worth £3m stolen in 'audacious' heist at Chelsea art fair

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Detectives were today investigating the theft of up to £3 million worth of jewellery from an art and antiques fair in Chelsea.

Thieves stole the gems from a stand at the Masterpiece art fair, which is monitored by round-the-clock security teams.

One theory is that the crime involved professional thieves who used distraction techniques. A worker at the event likened it to the Pink Panther jewel theft films.

The fair boasts of being a “leading international event” for viewing and buying the “finest works of art”. Among the 44,000 visitors at this year’s event in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea were Kirstie Allsopp and Andrew Lloyd Webber. 

Items on sale included a one-off 1968 Riva Lamborghini for just under £2 million and a light installation by the Chilean artist Ivan Navarro for £700,000. 

The thieves are thought to have struck overnight this week, stealing items from the stand of the Switzerland-based jewellers Boghossian.

Police are examining CCTV footage but there were reportedly no witnesses to the theft, which took place between 5pm on Tuesday and 9.30am on Wednesday.

A source at the fair said the exhibition had been protected by security guards and that organisers were working with police. Workers there said they were “amazed” by the audacity of the theft.

One said: “There were security [staff] everywhere. It was not the normal hospital security — these were all suited and booted and really meant business. I am very surprised this has happened. It’s like the Pink Panther films or something.”

The movies starred Peter Sellers as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau, in pursuit of a stolen jewel known as the Pink Panther, and featured the animated Pink Panther character in their credits.

Another worker said: “There were loads of guys in suits protecting the exhibition. I am amazed.” The fair was held in a tented structure in the hospital grounds. The artworks were today being removed from the site  following the end of the exhibition. 

Last month, an article in magazine The Jewellery Editor described how Boghossian “lights up Masterpiece London 2017 with a dazzling array of jewels”.

No one was available to comment from the company, which is based in Geneva but opened a store in Bond Street in 2013.

Masterpiece said it was “fully co-operating” with the police, adding: “We take the security of the fair and the objects exhibited very seriously.”

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