PARIS -- A staggering $53 million worth of diamonds and other jewels was stolen yesterday from the Carlton InterContinental Hotel in Cannes in one of Europe's biggest jewelry heists, police said. One expert noted the robbery follows recent jail escapes by members of the notorious "Pink Panther" jewel thief gang.

The hotel in the sweltering French Riviera was hosting a temporary jewelry exhibit over the summer from the prestigious Leviev diamond house, owned by Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev.

A police spokesman said the theft took place around noon, but he could not confirm local media reports that the robber was a single gunman who stuffed a suitcase with the gems before making a swift exit.

The likelihood of recovering the diamonds and jewels is slim because the thieves can easily sell them, said Jonathan Sazonoff, U.S. editor for the Museum Security Network website and an authority on high-value crime. -- AP

Latest videos