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Cannes Jewel Heist: Inside Job Suspected, Hotel Employees Being Questioned

Julianne Moore Cannes Close Up - H 2013
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Julianne Moore wears Chopard on the Cannes red carpet.

UPDATED: The Chopard employee whose room was burglarized is an American; more than $1 million of jewelry was stolen.

Chopard jewels worth more than $1 million have been stolen at the Cannes Film Festival, local police confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter on Friday.

The jewelry was stolen from the safe in the Suite Novotel Cannes Centre room of a Chopard employee, an American, overnight. The jewelry was due to be loaned to stars walking the red carpet.

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Cannes police told THR that the value of the stolen jewelry was about $1.4 million, and that the whole safe was taken out of the wall in the hotel room. The suspect was able to get to the safe through an adjoining room with a connecting door.

They added that they believe the burglary could be an inside job, and that hotel employees are being questioned. The police in nearby Nice are leading the investigation in the case, local police said.

During a press conference in the early evening, Raffaella Rossiello, international communication director at Chopard,  confirmed a staffer was robbed while not on the premises.

She added that the value of the pieces stolen is "far lower than the figures circulating." Contradicting earlier reports for the police, she noted that the jewels are "not part of the collection of jewels that are worn by actresses during the Cannes Film Festival." The company has no further comment as the investigation is under way.

Suite Novotel Cannes Centre is a non-glitzy, business-oriented hotel with 124 rooms, located just north of the major thoroughfare Place de Juin 18. It's located in the less tourist-centered part of town, with a local police station directly across the street. Rooms cost around 479 euros during the festival. A spokesperson for Suite Novotel Cannes Centre said the company had no comment while a police investigation was ongoing.

Chopard, which creates the Palme d'Or trophy for the best film in the Cannes competition, as well as the best actor and actress trophies, organized its annual Trophee Chopard ceremony Thursday night. As patron of the ceremony, Colin Firth handed the trophy to young actress Blanca Suarez and actor Jeremy Irvine for their "outstanding promise in the world of cinema."

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The ceremony was hosted by Elizabeth Quin, in the presence of Cannes festival president Gilles Jacob and Caroline Scheufele, co-president of Chopard. The ceremony was followed by a party.

The Chopard suite is located at the top of the Martinez Hotel here as every year. The company has been an official sponsor of the festival for years. They hosted a lunch on Friday, with Marion Cotillard in attendance.

Cannes is traditionally a big showcase for fashion and jewelry brands.

Twentieth Century Fox's home entertainment division and Italian jeweler Bulgari, for example, are set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, here on Tuesday. Jessica Chastain will co-host a screening of a restored version of the film. At the afterparty, Bulgari will display pieces it bought back from Taylor's estate several years ago, including a hand-held mirror of turquoise and gold seen in Cleopatra. Chastain will wear a famous emerald and diamond necklace Burton gave Taylor during Cleopatra's three-year production.

Bulgari also will unveil an exclusive jewelry piece inspired by Taylor and the film that will be auctioned off this year. Proceeds will benefit the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

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This isn't the first time that Chopard has been victim to a robbery in France. In 2009, a lone gunman stole jewelry worth more than $8 million from a Chopard store in Paris in broad daylight.

Also in 2009, armed robbers in Hawaiian shirts and masks stole jewelry worth close to $21 million from a Cartier shop in Cannes before fleeing on motorbikes.

On Twitter, the news led to comparisons with Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring, which opened the Cannes festival's Un Certain Regard sidebar on Thursday night. The movie is based on the real-life case of high-school students who stole designer clothes and bags from the homes of celebrities including the Kardashians and Paris Hilton.

"The Bling Ring guys, or?" MelN ‏from Sydney, Australia said in a tweet. Cristina Trezzini from Switzerland in French also wondered if the thieves had emulated Bling Ring.

Jimbo Wilmshurst tweeted: "More than $1m of Chopard jewels have been stolen from the Cannes FIlm Festival. They should probably make a film about it."

Georg Szalai and Rebecca Ford contributed to this report.