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Stolen Style: The Most Memorable Fashion Heists

Dec 6 2013 - 11:38am

It's been a particularly active year for fashion heists. In the latest one since this year's multimillion-dollar Cannes jewelry caper, CNN has reported that a couple made off with several luxury watches [1] from the Audemars Piguet store on the Place Vendôme in Paris.

Police are still gathering information about this robbery, but there are plenty of other fashion thefts that still haven't been completely solved. Case in point: only a portion of the legendary raid at the Harry Winston store in Paris was ever found, and it doesn't appear that all of Marc Jacobs's stolen Spring 2012 samples [2] were found.

Herein, a look at some of the most brazen, lucrative, and strange thefts in fashion.

Source: Getty

Who Was Watching the Watch Shop?

An armed couple walked into the Audemars Piguet store on the Place Vendôme in Paris on Dec. 5 and made off with 19 timepieces worth an estimated $1.1 million, according to CNN [3]. Fortunately, no one was harmed during the robbery.

The Shoe-Shaped Hat That Got Away

A stiletto-shaped hat Bill Cunningham created for the late Anna Piaggi was stolen from an exhibit of her hats in Milan during Milan Fashion Week. Piaggi's nephew Stefano Piaggi told WWD [4], "We tried to keep this unpleasant event secret until the end of the exhibition, but it's leaking out. We reported the theft, but we didn't get any news yet."

The hat, which Cunningham made in the '70s, was taken the last weekend of September. The rest of the show, entitled Hat-ology, will go on until Nov. 20.

The Diamonds That Weren't Forever

"Diamonds are forever but stolen diamonds are not," said Manhattan's US attorney Preet Bharara [5] during the trial of Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun. She'd been in court since earlier in 2013, when she was accused of stealing and reselling over $2 million worth of jewels while working as vice president of product development at Tiffany & Co.

Lederhaas-Okun pleaded guilty in late July, and under her plea deal she agreed to forfeit $2.1 million and will restore another $2.2 million to the company she once worked for.

Another Day, Another Jewelry Heist at a Cannes Hotel

The Carlton Hotel in Cannes this weekend saw the latest in a series of jewelry heists in the French seaside town. The BBC reported [6] Sunday that an armed robber had stolen nearly €40 million worth of jewels (just over $53 million at current exchange) created by Leviev. "A full and urgent operation is under way to catch the culprit and recover these jewels," said a spokesman for the Cannes police. "Thieves see Cannes as rich pickings."

The Legendary Tiffany Raid

In September 1994, a group of thieves tied up the guards at the Tiffany store on New York's Fifth Avenue and left with $1 million worth of jewelry. Instead of a smash-and-grab job, these thieves were more selective and took some 300 watches, rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and other items.

"It was a very, very professional job," NYPD Capt. Salvatore M. Blando told The New York Times [7]. "They were definitely on a schedule. They might have cased the place for a long time. We're looking into it being an inside job."

The Theft of Miranda Kerr's Unmentionables

Among the victims of the Bling Ring — the group of young people who broke into the homes of various celebrities in the Hollywood Hills between 2008 and 2009 — was Miranda Kerr [8]. It was recently revealed that among the items the thieves stole, which included mainly clothing and jewelry, was lingerie belonging to Miranda.

"The fact that they stole the underwear just seems so weird, but it's not weird when you think about it, because they're growing up at a time when their culture is constantly telling them to be sexy," said [9] Nancy Jo Sales, the Vanity Fair reporter who first told the story of the Bling Ring in 2010. "Everything from toys to video games to music to fashion is hypersexualized for girls. Stealing their underwear was part of a whole trend to emulate these celebrities. They don't just want expensive underwear — they want Paris Hilton [10]'s underwear."

The Bergdorf Goodman Jewelry Heist

In June 2012, a trio of thieves broke into the Bergdorf Goodman store in NYC and took "at least hundreds of thousands of dollars" in fine jewelry. One thief used a hammer to break into the store's glass door, another tried to block passersby from seeing what he was doing, and a third drove a getaway car.

Many of the baubles stolen were created by Philadelphia-based jeweler Paul Morelli. The brand's luxury retail manager John Winkler told The New York Post [11], "That thief obviously has good taste."

The Chanel Burglary in Beantown

In October 2010, four men and a woman were seen rushing into Chanel's store in Boston and making off [12] with around $100,000 worth of the brand's handbags, jackets, and accessories. It wasn't their first luxury job, either: police said the same group targeted a Louis Vuitton store in Boston twice in the month before the Chanel raid.

The DeBeers Jewelry Theft

This February, two men armed with wigs, handguns, and bullet-proof vests went to the DeBeers stand at Paris's Printemps department store. No shots were fired, and no one was harmed, but the thieves walked out [13] of the store's personnel exit shortly after they arrived with a haul estimated at between $2.7 million and $4 million.

The Drive-In at Gucci's London Store

A group of three thieves backed what was believed to be a stolen Mercedes-Benz through the front doors of Gucci's store on Sloane Street in Kensington this March. The three took [14] a sampling of the brand's handbags and then drove off in a blue Audi A4.

The Marc Jacobs Sample Theft

In November 2011, the Marc Jacobs public relations team had to cancel previews of its Spring 2012 collection in London due to, as it wrote [15] in an email to editors, "the theft of the Spring/Summer 2012 collections during its transfer from Paris."

The entire collection totaled 46 looks that hadn't yet gone into production, and the company offered a reward [16] for information about its whereabouts. Luckily, the missing samples were duplicates of the original collection shown in New York.

But just two weeks later, more of Jacobs's designs went missing when a team of masked gunmen stole [17] around $400,000 worth of Louis Vuitton merchandise that was being shipped through Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.

The Cross-Dressers Who Robbed Harry Winston

In December 2008, four men — three dressed as women — buzzed the intercom of the Harry Winston store in Paris and asked to be let in. Once inside, they brandished a gun and a hand grenade and addressed some of the store's workers by name in French, spoken with, according to The New York Times [18], "strong Slavic accents."

Over the next 15 minutes, the thieves smashed into jewelry cases and loaded up their bags with $105 million worth of jewelry. Some of the haul was recovered in a 2009 police raid that sent nine people — including the person suspected of masterminding the heist — to jail.

In 2011, some $25 million of the stolen jewelry was found in a rain vent [19] of a home that belonged to one of the people charged with the theft.

The Hermès Flash Mob Robbery

A flash mob targeted an Hermès store in Houston, Texas, in December 2011, using around 10 people to break down the door of the luxury goods outpost. Police said [20] the thieves spent less than three minutes in the store before making off with whatever they could carry.

The Chopard Cannes Caper

Just days into the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, it was reported [21] that some $1.4 million worth of jewelry from Chopard had been stolen from the hotel room of one of the company's employees. While the jewels haven't been recovered yet, Chopard has said that the baubles stolen were not a part of the collection being loaned to celebrities — like Cara Delevingne, at left — who are walking the festival's red carpet.

The Cannes Caper, Part Deux

Less than a week after jewelry was stolen from a Chopard employee's hotel room in Cannes, it was reported that a de Grisogono necklace worth $2.6 million was stolen from a party the brand was having during the film festival.

"These incidents are rare; it is actually the first time it has happened in our 20-year history," said [22] de Grisogono's founder Fawaz Gruosi in a statement. "However when they occur, one must be proactive and collaborate with the authorities."
There has been no advancement in the case since the theft.

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