TODAY

TODAY   |  July 29, 2013

Over $50 million in jewels stolen from Cannes hotel

In a brazen heist, a masked man allegedly armed with a pistol walked into the legendary Carlton Hotel in Cannes, France, and stole about $53 million of jewels that were being set up for display. NBC’s Michelle Kosinski reports.

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>> of the biggest jewelry heists in the world. $53 million worth stolen from a hotel in france. michel michelle kosinski has the story. good morning.

>> this is the legendary hotel, the most prestigious along the area. it's hard to tell what was more extraordinary, the diamonds or the heist of them. signs outside the carrolton boldly announced summer exhibition of the mouth watering jewels. maybe a little too effectively because the thief was as bold. sunday just before high noon , a man in a mask and hat simply walked into the hotel, allegedly used a pistol to threaten staff and force security guards while the jewels were being set up for display and walked out with them. possibly $53 million worth, gone.

>> diamonds. the only thing in the world you can't resist.

>> reporter: the carlton hotel was the setting of the film "to catch a thief" with kerry grant as a burglar and grace kelly first met her prince at the carlton in real life . and this crime was clearly organized.

>> he is the professional business man and his business is jewel thievery.

>> there were two heists in cannes in may. a single necklace worth $2 million. harry winston in 2008 netting $100 million worth. some of it found in a home and drainpipe in the suburbs. that many believe was the work of the pink panther jewel thieves thought to be responsible for hundreds of millions worth of robberies in the u.s. in the last month, three members broke out of prison. one of them just last week and some say this is a sign the gang is back. so who was that masked man? were there others? how on earth did they get away? if police know at this point they're not saying. analyst say if thieves don't catch a thief like this within two hours the jewels are gone forever. cut down, reset, made untraceable. carson.

>>> wow, fascinating. michelle, thank you so much. a hat, a mask, briefcase, $53 million out the front door. it's the plot of a movie.

>> yeah.

>>> who makes a get away in cannes? the traffic on that road? i can't believe they got out so fast.