Among the first reactions to the assault and robbery of Kim Kardashian West, at the exclusive Hotel de Pourtalès, a 19th century neo-Renaissance town mansion in Paris early Monday morning by gunmen who made off with millions of dollars in jewelry, is French anxiety over the potential impact of the crime on tourism and the image of a city already reeling from multiple terrorist attacks over the past months.
The Reality TV actress, 35, who according to reports “was badly shaken but physically unharmed” fled Paris on a private jet just after responding to police questions.
Between 2 and 4 a.m. Monday, five armed and masked men disguised as police officers entered the discrete luxurious private residence often used by celebrities and jet-setters on the Rue Tronchet, behind the Madeleine churchin a plush neighborhood of France’s capital and where she had stayed at least once before, in 2014.
The residence or “hôtel partiulier”owned by young entrepreneur Alexandre Allard, has no internet site and, according to London’s Telegraph “is kind of a uber-select Airbnb for the super-rich rather than a traditional hotel.” It has also been reported that the establishment is considered “super safe” and requires at least two code entries to enter. The men had handcuffed and at gunpoint forced the building’s concierge to lead them to Kardashian’s flat.
They entered her room, threatened her with a weapon, tied her up and locked her in the bathroom. French media reported that the stolen jewelry is worth more than €10 million.
Social media is careening with questions about how many of the pieces were her personal property and not borrowed for Fashion Week.
The thieves also took two of her smartphones containing personal information before fleeing the scene, at least two of them escaping on bicycles.
Kardashian, mother of two children, was with other members of her family – who were not staying with her – since arriving last week in Paris to participate in Paris Fashion Week. Her sister, Kourtney, their mother, Kris Jenner, and their sister, Kendall Jenner, who was modeling in a Givenchy show, were placed under police protection.
Her husband, Kanye West, abruptly ended his performance at the Meadows Music and Arts Festival at Citi Field in New York on Sunday night, when he learned of the assault.
Paris police were fast to report that an investigation had been opened and that “everything is being done to solve this case and question the perpetrators.” Paris’ special unit of the judicial police, the Brigade Prevention of Banditry (BRB) “has taken control of this investigation.”
Kim Kardashian had already been victim of another mishap during this trip when Vitalli Sediuk, a serial celebrities’ harasser known as a “star aggressor,” managed to come close to her and kiss her famous posterior when she was entering a restaurant.
The robbery Monday quickly triggered widespread comment in France about the lack of security and the way the police and the municipal government are dealing with new threats.
“While some see in the aggression of the starlet a trivial event, or an incident that will bring bad publicity to Parisian tourism, the world has reacted in a disproportionate way processing this news,” wrote Le Figaro Magazine, referring to the massive reaction by global media and the international wave of support on social networks.
“Today, we can do all the very expensive advertising you want for Paris,” Conservative Party politician Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, told L’Express, alluding to a recent €300,000 promotional campaign launched by the city to lure back tourism and improve the city’s image. “But all the advertising was abruptly canceled by Kim Kardashian’s case, which will spin throughout all media.” She also pointed to the lack of “responsiveness of the state and the municipality on security matters.”
“As a consequence of the wave of attacks, Paris faces a hemorrhage of tourists,” the magazine noted. “With 14.9 million hotel arrivals in the first half, the number of tourists to the capital and the Ile-de-France was down 6.4% compared to 2015. In total, from January to late June, the Paris hotel industry welcomed one million visitors less than last year.”
By Cecilia Rodriguez [Forbes]