In 1961, Paris, France, witnessed one of the most audacious heists in its history. The city, known for its rich culture, art, and history, experienced a thrilling event that captivated the public's attention and solidified its place in the annals of crime. The target was the renowned Hôtel Ritz Paris, located in the heart of the city at the Place Vendôme. This luxurious hotel, which opened in 1898, was a favorite among the rich and famous, including celebrities, politicians, and royalty. Little did anyone know that in the early months of 1961, it would become the scene of a daring and meticulously planned robbery.
The mastermind behind the heist was Jacques Lepage, a career criminal with a penchant for grandiosity. Lepage had been planning the robbery for months, carefully assembling a skilled team of thieves and studying the hotel's layout and security measures. He knew that the Ritz held valuable items in its safety deposit boxes, including cash, jewelry, and precious gems belonging to its esteemed clientele. The stakes were high, but so were the potential rewards.
On the night of the heist, Lepage's team executed their plan with precision. Disguised as hotel staff, they managed to bypass the hotel's security and gain access to the vault. Once inside, they quickly disabled the alarm system and proceeded to crack open the safety deposit boxes. The thieves worked quickly and efficiently, knowing that time was of the essence.
Meanwhile, a few floors above, an extravagant gala was in full swing, attended by the hotel's wealthy patrons. Unbeknownst to them, the robbery was unfolding right under their noses. The heist was timed to coincide with the gala to ensure that the hotel's security was focused on the event rather than on the vault.
The robbery went off without a hitch, and the thieves made off with an estimated 5 million francs (equivalent to over 1 million US dollars at the time) in cash, jewels, and other valuables. The scale and audacity of the heist sent shockwaves through Parisian high society and dominated headlines for weeks.
Despite a massive manhunt, Lepage and his crew managed to evade capture for several years. It wasn't until 1964 that Lepage was finally apprehended by the French police, following a tip-off from an informant. Several members of the gang were also arrested, and a portion of the stolen loot was recovered. However, much of the stolen wealth was never found and remains missing to this day.
The 1961 robbery of the Hôtel Ritz Paris remains one of the most daring and well-executed heists in history. Its fascinating story has been immortalized in books and films, a testament to the intrigue and allure that still surrounds this incredible crime.