About two and a half hours later, French officials said, Ms. Kardashian West, a reality television star, was robbed at gunpoint of jewelry worth at least 8 million euros, or nearly $9 million. She was alone in a luxurious apartment in the Eighth Arrondissement, nearly two miles from the dinner, when two men burst in, tied her up and gagged her, then escaped with at least three accomplices, officials said.
The crime stunned fans of Ms. Kardashian West, who has millions of followers on Twitter and Instagram. Her husband, the singer Kanye West, abruptly walked off the stage of a concert in Queens when he learned of the crime. It also focused unwanted attention on France, where tourism has plummeted following a series of major terrorist attacks.
Crucial details remained unclear on Monday, including why Ms. Kardashian West was alone and why she was carrying such valuable jewelry. But police officials and the mayor of Paris vowed to get to the bottom of the crime and to reassure their citizens, and foreigners, that the French capital was safe to visit.
“I condemn the attack Kim Kardashian suffered last night in her hotel,” the mayor, Anne Hidalgo, said in a statement. “She has my support and will always be welcome here in Paris. I have full confidence that the police force, as part of their investigation, will quickly identify and apprehend the perpetrators of these acts.”
Laurent Riquart, a spokesman for the investigative unit of the Paris police, said the men were part of a group of about five people who stormed the V.I.P. residence, the Hôtel de Pourtalès, near the Madeleine church. At least one had a handgun. “Once they were in the building, they tied up the receptionist’s hands,” Mr. Riquart said in a phone interview. “They went up the stairs and entered her room. They tied up her hands and put a gag in her mouth.”
Luc Poignant, a spokesman for a police officers’ union, said the men locked Ms. Kardashian West in a bathroom after tying her up with tape. Along with the jewelry, which included a ring, they made off with cellphones and a wallet that contained credit cards. Three of the men left on foot, and two on bikes, he said. The men had targeted their victim — they forced the concierge to tell them where Ms. Kardashian West was staying, and tied his hands.
The men appeared to have worn shirts identifying themselves as police officers — but also balaclavas and gloves, which are not part of the police uniform.
Ms. Kardashian West was “badly shaken but physically unharmed,” her spokeswoman told The Associated Press, offering no further details. She left France on Monday with her daughter, North, 3, and son, Saint, who is 10 months old. The children were not present when the robbery occurred. It appeared that Ms. Kardashian West gave a statement to the police before she departed, but her representatives did not respond to multiple messages requesting details.
Foreign tourism to France has dropped substantially after major terrorism attacks in Paris in November 2015 and in the Mediterranean city of Nice in July. France remains under a state of emergency.
“This is a very rare occurrence that took place in a private space, and in no way does it call into question the work of our police or the security of our public spaces,” Ms. Hidalgo, the mayor, said on Monday. “It is possible to visit the French capital and enjoy all it has to offer in secure conditions.”
Nonetheless, the attack on Ms. Kardashian West quickly became political fodder on Monday. Presidential elections are scheduled for next year, and the incumbent, François Hollande of the Socialist Party, is expected to face a stiff challenge from right-wing candidates who are competing with Mr. Hollande to appear tough on crime.
“What happened to her is running nonstop on every channel,” Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, a member of the National Assembly with the center-right opposition party, the Republicans, told the radio station Europe1. “Do you realize the kind of anti-commercial this is for Paris? Today, you can make any kind of commercial you want for Paris, and they are very expensive. All these commercials were canceled out by what happened to Kim Kardashian.”
On Twitter, Florian Philippot, the vice president of the right-wing National Front party, denounced the “violent aggression” against Ms. Kardashian West and warned, “Once again, tourism is going to pay for this chronic insecurity in France.” He also accused Ms. Hidalgo of “blindness” and said she was in an “ivory tower.”
Ms. Hidalgo, for her part, warned politicians not to exploit the issue for political gain.
High-profile crimes are not uncommon in France, which by many estimates remains the world’s most-visited country. In 2013, a thief robbed a luxury hotel in Cannes, on the Riviera, and made off with tens of millions of dollars in jewelry. In 2014, the Place Vendôme, one of the most fashionable squares in Paris, was hit by a series of smash-and-grab robberies. Last year, thieves assaulted two armored vans and made off with jewelry worth an estimated $10 million.
Only a few days ago, Ms. Kardashian West was tackled in a Paris street by a man who was pinned to the ground by her bodyguards. The man, identified as Vitalii Sediuk, had a record for following celebrities around and did not appear to be a robber.
On Sunday evening, Ms. Kardashian West attended the Givenchy fashion show with her sister Kourtney and their mother, Kris Jenner, and the rock singer Courtney Love, before making her way to the dinner, which was hosted by the American design magazine Surface in honor of the designer Azzedine Alaïa.
“I just can’t believe it,” said Pierre Hardy, who designs footwear and accessories for Hermès and attended the dinner. “There she was with all of us, and then hours later that happens. It’s unbelievable.”
Another guest at the dinner, Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz, the new editor in chief of Vogue Arabia and a member of the Saudi royal family, said on Monday: “There’s no question in my mind that this will play heavily on the mind of shoppers and travelers from the Gulf when it comes to visiting in Paris. Lots wear their jewelry very openly here. They shop. And have always felt very safe doing so. But when something like this can happen, and to someone with such a good security detail, well — it’s a big surprise. And it’s very frightening.”
Date Posted: Tuesday, October 4th, 2016 , Total Page Views: 682
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