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Diamond theft estimated at $136 million

PARIS — Wearing a scarf to mask his face, the gunman held up at least three security guards and fled the luxury Cannes hotel roughly a minute later with $136 million in diamond jewelry, more than twice the initial estimated worth of the loot.

The simple, speedy theft is the biggest jewelry robbery in years. Police had previously said Sunday’s theft at the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel had netted $53 million worth of treasure. Philippe Vique, an assistant prosecutor in the Riviera town of Grasse, said the Dubai-based organizer of the diamond show had since raised the value based on a more complete inventory.

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The suspect somehow got in through the hotel’s locked French doors, which open onto Cannes’ famed Croisette promenade, then held up the participants of the show with a handgun and fled on foot.

The holdup took about a minute, all with three private security guards, two vendors, and a manager of the exhibit on hand, Vique said. No customers were present at the time. ‘‘He took a bag containing a briefcase and a small box, and then fled by another French door on the inside,’’ Vique said. ‘‘He left on foot . . . it was very fast.’’

The bag contained rings, earrings, and pendants, Vique said. As the suspect began his getaway, a few jewels spilled out of the bag of loot and were quickly recovered.

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