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Jewel heist at Paris’s Drouot auction house

In a brazen robbery, auctioneers were attacked with tear gas and a briefcase filled with €300,000 in gems was stolen

The brazen robbery took place directly in front of the Hôtel Drouot

Security concerns have been raised at one of Paris’s oldest auction houses after a brazen robbery took place directly in front of the Hôtel Drouot. Early in the evening of Wednesday, 19 February, three individuals attacked two auctioneers and two assistants with tear gas, according to police, then robbed them of a briefcase holding jewels worth at least €300,000.

The three assailants were aided in their getaway by a fourth accomplice and were unsuccessfully pursued by the police from the city centre to the Seine-et-Marne district, about 55km from Paris. No one was seriously injured.

Drouot’s official public statement contains little information on the incident, but stresses their commitment to anti-theft measures, saying they have followed police department’s requirements and “significantly reinforced” security measures such as video surveillance in the “interior of the auction house”.

Drouot has been under fire in the past for security issues, notably in 2010, when its union of art handlers, known as the cols rouges (red collars), was charged with the theft and receipt of stolen goods. An investigation of the scandal followed and a damning report commissioned by the Minister of Justice Michele Alliot-Marie criticised Drouot’s “opaque structure” and “minimalist governance”.

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