News! In the nights from 11 to 17 September 1792, a band of criminals thieved the Crown Jewels right under the noses of the guards of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne on Place de la Concorde. Here we take a closer look at what happened.
Mr. Roland, France’s interior minister, and Mr. Restout, head of security at the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne on Place de la Révolution (today’s Place de la Concorde) had nonetheless sounded the alarm! Against the backdrop of the French capital’s climate of insecurity, they had considered that security of the site and its treasures was insufficient. In the salons of honour, not only was the furniture of the royal collections exhibited, but the Crown Jewels were too.
According to the inventory that the National Constituent Assembly ordered in 1791, the treasure was made up of more than 10,000 gemstones: diamonds, pearls, rubies, emeralds, topazes and sapphires. Many irreplaceable items constituted this national treasure, amassed since the 16th century by the kings of France, such as the Great Sapphire of Louis XIV and the Sancy Diamond. Among the items with the highest value, the Regent Diamond was the most precious jewel stolen. Its estimated value stood at over 12 million French livres (or, in the 21st century, several tens of millions of euros), the full set of jewels representing around 23 million French livres.
Some of the Crown Jewels are also exhibited at the Musée de Minéralogie in Paris.
It was a band of robbers led by a certain Paul Miette who got inside the jewellery room to thieve the jewels.
Under the cover of night, the bandits scaled the facade of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne using ropes to climb up and using the street lamps on Place de la Révolution (today’s Place de la Concorde) for support. Reaching the first-floor balcony in this way, they were protected from the sight of any passers-by and were able to smash a windowpane and break the inside shutter of the reception room where the precious jewels were kept.
Most of the looters were quickly caught by the police that same evening. Eight of them were judged guilty of ‘plotting to plunder the French Republic’ and sentenced to death by guillotine.
The investigators found many incoherent aspects at the scene of the crime. The locks on the cupboards containing the diamonds had not been forced. And how can we seriously believe that 40 rogues were able to seize so many goods of such high value without drawing the attention of the attendants of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne four evenings in a row?
The are many suspicions regarding the true backer of this despicable initiative. Did the thieves have accomplices inside the building? Did Danton give the jewels to the Duke of Brunswick to buy our army’s victory in the Battle of Valmy? Or can this unbelievable story be simply explained by the general climate of insecurity in Paris in this month of September 1792?
The Prussian invasion and the massacres from 2 to 6 September 1792 in which Thierry de Ville d'Avray, the last Intendant of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, died prompt many to believe that the third scenario is the best explanation.
Conclusion:Most of the jewels were found again two years later. The French Blue reappeared 20 years later in England, completely recut. It was then known as the Hope Diamond.