John Shaw, the lead Paris-based insurance adjuster contracted by Leviev's insurer, Lloyd's of London, to work with French police to investigate the Carlton case, doubted whether the Panthers would have struck a target without thoroughly scoping it out first. The level of surveillance they are accustomed to conducting wouldn't have been possible on Cannes' busy main drag, Promenade de La Croisette. "It's difficult to stake out there," Shaw said. "It's really high-profile. It's possible, but it's unlikely."
Shaw suggested the loose security may have reflected the criminal's connection to someone working inside the hotel in some capacity. "I think it's more likely they got information from the inside," he said. The timing, the unlocked door, and the speed of the getaway all point to this. "I'm working with the police to advance that," he said. In an early statement to the press, the Carlton said that neither its employees or guests were implicated in the incident, and it is cooperating fully with authorities. The hotel did not respond to The Atlantic's requests for comment.
But Shaw doesn't necessarily buy the notion that the crime or the criminal was particularly sophisticated. "I think it's just as possible that a couple of local lads stumbled upon the idea," he said. "I mean, 'Jesus Christ! All we have to do is this and that, and then we’re in.'" It could have been a regular garden-variety thug. "You just need some dumb luck from someone who's prepared to point a pistol at you," he added. "It's quite a simple task."
Even if local criminals carried out the job, Winckel maintained that the Pink Panthers were likely still operating in the background because only they would have the necessary resources to successfully sell such identifiable jewels on the black markets in Antwerp, Belgium, or Asia. "Only their closed network has the 'partners' to cut or polish large diamonds," he wrote.
Kennedy agreed that Leviev diamonds were so big and of such rare clarity and color that they would be incredibly difficult to move. "It's not the kind of thing you could sell without grading reports," he said. "It's either gotta be recut or you've gotta get somebody to give you a false grading report." Not many small criminal networks or locals would have the capital necessary for that kind of forgery.
In early August, Lloyd's placed ads in French newspapers and the International Herald Tribune with pictures of the jewels and an offer of $1.3 million to the first person who provides information that leads to their recovery. Shaw has fielded approximately 200 phone calls and emails since the reward was announced. About a dozen are credible, he said. Kennedy seems confident that something will turn up, but Shaw remains less optimistic, saying their recovery is "not probable but it is possible."
"We hope with the news, they're being held to ground somewhere," he said. "We don't want them to panic and drop it off a bridge."
The possibility Shaw is rooting against—of a thief hopelessly flinging away diamond necklaces—is exactly the kind of final twist that screenwriters might hope for.