French Crown robbed of $700 million worth of jewels
de lecture - mots
The French Revolution is an internationally known event. It is home to several anecdotes including the most spectacular jewelry theft in the history of France.
In this article, you will discover :
- Where was stored the jewels of the King of France
- The elaboration of the plan to steal it by Paul Miette
- The realization of the robbery by the brigands of Paris
- How the theft was discovered
- What remains of the treasure today
We wish you an excellent reading !
The context of the most spectacular jewelry robbery in the history of the jewelry industry
The story takes place in 1792, in Paris, France. It is summer in the French capital and the revolution is underway. The king “Louis XVI” is under the control of the senate. His powers are limited and the people no longer trust him. His jewels are confiscated to prevent him from going abroad to pay an army and take back the country.
They are kept in the royal furniture guard hotel. It was located near the Place de la Concorde, then called "Place de la Révolution" at the time, in the 8th arrondissement. The building is guarded by guards.
It is important to say that it is open to the public once a week, every Monday, so that the public can admire the king's jewels. It is a real treasure, some of the pieces of which date back to the time of François 1st, King of France 300 years ago.
On Monday September 17, 1792, the curator of the hotel goes to the room where the crown jewels are exposed. He has to open the doors which have been closed since the previous Monday evening. However, this Monday was not a banal day. Indeed, when he entered the room, he discovered empty wine bottles, crumbs, disemboweled furniture and above all the disappearance of the King's jewels.
A total of 7 tons of gold, 9000 diamonds and the personal adornment of the King of France were stolen without anyone noticing. What happened?
The different stages of the theft of the jewels of the King of France
Paul Miette develops a plan to steal the jewels
Paul Miette is a little thug. He is arrested several times in prisons for petty theft. He recruits accomplices in prison. The Revolution opened the prisons and the brigands are in the streets. All he needs now is a plan to steal the jewels of the King of France.
He comes several Mondays in a row to locate the places. He notices that the only guarded entrance is the Main Street Saint Florentin. The guards are not very reliable. They often leave their post or get drunk while on duty. The hotel's security manager has already asked for reinforcements several times without success.
Jewel thieves operate all week long
On the evening of Monday, September 10, 1792, the doors of the treasure room were sealed. On Tuesday evening, Paul Miette put his plan into action. He bypassed the building and headed, with a few brigands, towards the more intimate streets that lined the Town Hall. In this way, he finds himself under the balconies of the second floor, which are not protected. With the help of ropes, they hoist themselves up to the first floor and open trap doors in the windows. Without any opposition, they are in the room that houses the King's treasure.
The room is large and contains many luxurious objects. They will not be able to take everything. They focus on the jewelry presented in the window display and hook the furniture. They leave around 2am with precious stones in their pockets.
In Paris, the rumor goes up that the King's jewels have been stolen. Invented stories circulate about the modus operandi. However, the authorities are not yet notified and this is only the beginning of a long week of theft.
Indeed, every night more and more thieves are stealing the precious jewels of the King of France. Wednesday 12, Thursday 13 and Friday 14 follow one another and the treasure room is gradually being emptied. However, a thief commits a recklessness by selling a stolen diamond to a well-informed man who reports it to the authorities. Distrustful, the guards check the seals. The seals being intact, they refute the idea of the theft of the King's treasure and return to their activity.
Thieves party in the treasure room
Thieves think that nothing will stop them. On Saturday, September 15, more than 50 of them entered the treasure room through the balconies. They come to steal but also to have fun. They brought back wine, food and girls of joy. They are having the best party of their lives!
However, on the way down, one of the thieves breaks his leg while jumping from the balcony. The noise alerts a guard who was lurking. He stops him and finds his pockets full of precious stones. A handful of other thieves are arrested but the guards still do not enter the treasure room.
Jewel thieves are arrested
It was only when the treasure room opened on the morning of Monday 17 September that the authorities realized the theft. The curator discovered a room littered with empty wine bottles, crumbs and disemboweled furniture. The Crown Jewels have disappeared!
Fortunately, internal conflicts between the thieves lead them to denounce each other. Paul Miette is arrested in a house he had just bought with the loot money. When he was sentenced to death, he initiated a procedure of cassation appeal that allowed him to have his trial reviewed. The period of terror in France disrupted his proceedings. He is finally released with 12 of his associates. Only 5 will be executed.
Where is the French King’s treasure today ?
The treasure was very difficult to gather. Indeed, it passed from hand to hand and was quickly squandered by thieves. Several diamonds could be found as the precious gemstone Sancy and Régent. However, a particularly expensive blue diament, estimated at 8 million euros, is missing. It is the largest blue diament in the world and is also called "cursed diament" or "hope diament" depending on the region of the world. Indeed, it would have harmed several of its owners.
The latter reappears in England, 20 years and 2 days after the theft. It is interesting that the prescription for theft takes effect after 20 years. In other words, it is no longer considered stolen. Its owner, a wealthy banker, does not want to reveal anything about the origin of its appearance. It is exhibited for a few weeks during the World's Fair before being resold. After passing from hand to hand, it is given to the Smithsonian Institution. It is a great American museum that preserves priceless works of art.
Recent appraisals claim that the King's blue diament is now worth nearly $250 million. It is nothing to say that its price has increased ... Louis XVI's sword in diament, entitled "The Chapel of Richelieu," was never found.