Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo condemned the attack against the reality television star Kim Kardashian early on Monday morning, amid concerns that the armed robbery will worsen the crisis in the French tourism industry.
Ms Hidalgo expressed “support” for Ms Kardashian (35) after she was attacked by five armed men disguised as police officers. “She will always be welcome in Paris. I have full confidence in the police force’s ability to rapidly identify and apprehend the perpetrators,” Ms Hidalgo said. “It is possible to visit the French capital in good security conditions.”
The robbers handcuffed the night concierge at 3.40am, forcing him to tell them where Ms Kardashian’s suite was. Her bodyguard was not with her, and she was alone. The assailants bound her with tape, locked her in the bathroom and ransacked the suite, stealing more than €9 million in jewels, including Ms Kardashian’s €4 million wedding ring.
Ms Kardashian's husband, rap singer Kanye West, interrupted his performance at the Meadows festival in New York. "Sorry, the concert's over," he said. An official at the festival cited a "family emergency".
Ms Kardashian left France after police questioned her in the hotel. Her spokesperson said she was “badly shaken but not hurt”. French police are interviewing all hotel staff.
Despite Ms Hidalgo’s expression of confidence, the attack is a further blow to the prestige of the Paris police.
The Pourtalès, where Ms Kardashian was staying, is at most half a mile from the interior ministry, which is in charge of French police.
Last month, three women acting on behalf of Islamic State abandoned a car filled with gas cannisters near Notre Dame cathedral and just a few hundred metres from Paris police headquarters. Yet it took police more than two hours to respond to repeated telephone calls from a panicked restaurant owner.
A series of jihadist attacks, and violent anti-government protests last spring, have badly damaged the French tourism industry.
The Pourtalès prides itself on discretion and also goes by the name “No Address”. There are no internet bookings, no cameras visible outside the large red front door in the rue Tronchet, and no doorman. One must know a password to make reservations. The private mansion resembles a Florentine palazzo and boasts an art collection. Twenty staff, including a fulltime cook, cater to the needs of clients in nine apartments, ranging in size from 95 to 350sq m.
The Kardashian family were regular clients at the Pourtalès. The football star Zlatan Ibrahimovic lived there for a year when he was playing for the Paris Saint-Germain club. Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna and Prince have also been clients.
Ms Kardashian had moved several times during Fashion Week, and police suspect someone tipped the robbers off. She attended shows at Balenciaga and Givenchy on the eve of the attack.
Three days earlier, a Ukrainian called Vitalli Sediuk, who has a history of harrassing celebrities, was immobilised by Ms Kardashian’s bodyguard when he tried to kiss her posterior as she entered L’Avenue restaurant.