French police arrest 16 over €9m Kim Kardashian robbery

Five masked men made away with jewellery after heist at TV star’s Paris apartment

This file photo taken at the Rue Tronchet, near Madeleine, central Paris, on October 3rd, 2016, where US reality television star Kim Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint by assailants. Photograph: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images

This file photo taken at the Rue Tronchet, near Madeleine, central Paris, on October 3rd, 2016, where US reality television star Kim Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint by assailants. Photograph: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images

 

French police appear to have solved the October 3rd armed robbery of the US reality television star Kim Kardashian in her Paris hotel suite, when they arrested 16 suspects in the early hours of Monday morning.

The robbery, which netted €9 million in jewels, was reportedly the worst against an individual in France in 20 years. The simultaneous arrests were made in the 17th and 19th districts of Paris, in the suburbs of Créteil, Le Raincy and Vincennes, and in Grasse, southern France. The oldest suspect is 72 years old. Most are experienced criminals with records for armed robbery. Police found large amounts of cash in the raids.

The Brigade de répression du banditisme (BRB) spent weeks watching video-surveillance footage from security cameras at shops surrounding the Hotel de Pourtalès on the Rue Tronchet, behind the Église de la Madeleine in Paris’s 8th district. But it was DNA from one of Kardashian’s assailants, who was already known for armed robbery, which led investigators to the suspects via the national DNA database. The DNA was found on a metal clamp left at the scene of the crime.

Five men wearing gloves, hoods and jackets marked “police” had arrived at the Pourtalès, a private residence so exclusive that it does not advertise and has no sign outside, at 2am on the morning of October 3rd.

They ordered the night receptionist to escort them at gunpoint to the duplex apartment that was rented by “the rap singer’s wife” during Fashion Week. Kardashian is married to the rapper Kanye West, with whom she has two children, North and Saint. Two men entered the apartment while the other three stood watch outside. They bound and gagged Kardashian with boxing tape, ransacked the apartment and stole the jewels.

The five criminals present on the night were reported by Le Monde to be among the 16 arrested on Monday. It took Kardashian nearly an hour to free herself and call her bodyguard, who had accompanied her sister Kendall Jenner to a discothèque.

The investigating magistrate may travel to New York to interview Kardashian at greater length. She spoke to police only briefly on October 3rd, before leaving the same day for the US.

On September 29th, Kardashian had posted a photograph of herself flaunting a 20 carat diamond ring on her left index finger. It was a gift from West, valued at $4 million (€3.78m). According to reports at the time, the robbers may have learned Kardashian’s location from her Instagram posts. And despite the discretion of the PourtaIès, her lodging place was easily identifiable from the number of paparazzi who waited outside.

Surveillance cameras showed the robbers walking away casually or riding bicycles as they left the scene of the crime. One dropped a €30,000 diamond necklace on the pavement outside. It was found by a woman passerby a few hours later and turned in to investigators.

Return

The arrests came five days after Kardashian’s return to social media, after a three-month silence following the robbery. She claims 89 million followers on Instagram. By comparison, US president-elect Donald Trump’s Twitter account has 18.9 million followers.

On January 4th, Kardashian posted two clips of herself on Youtube/E! Entertainment, as teasers for the next season of Keeping up with the Kardashians, which starts in March. In the first clip, a tearful Kardashian tells her sisters Kourtney and Khloé: “They were gonna shoot me in the back. There was no way out. It makes me so upset to think about it!” Her sisters console her.

In the second sequence, Kardashian, again crying, talks on the telephone to West, saying, “Don’t scare me please. What’s going on?” The video clip apparently alludes to West’s hospitalisation for psychiatric problems in November, Le Figaro reported.

At least three armed robberies targeting wealthy foreign visitors to Paris had occurred in the preceding two years. In August 2014, thieves took €250,000 in cash from the car of a Saudi prince on the outskirts of Paris.

In April 2015, several million euro worth of jewels were taken from a German woman whose taxi was stopped on the A1 autoroute outside Paris.

In November 2016, two tourists from the Gulf sheikhdom of Qatar were held up, also on the A1, and robbed of €5 million.