Hatton Garden: How 'Mona Lisa of pearls' was stolen in FIRST London heist

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The Hatton Garden robbery captivated the public in 2015 when thieves made off with millions of pounds worth of jewellery after an attempted safe-break. Even more sensationally, it soon emerged that the mastermind criminal gang had all been elderly men with the final criminal only being brought to justice earlier this year. ITV’s four-part “Hatton Garden, starring beloved veteran actor Timothy Spall, begins tonight and unravels the fascinating crime story. 

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However, many may not realise that the famed jewellery district was the setting of another dramatic heist that involved the theft of “The Mona Lisa of Pearls”.

The pearl heist centred around Hatton Garden jewellery trader Max Mayer, and took place in 1913. 

Mr Meyer had in stock a stunning necklace of 61 blush-pink pearls, a masterpiece that had taken ten years to match and assemble. 

At its centre was a large pearl that had belonged to the Portuguese royal family. 

Hatton Garden reward poster; pearl necklaceThe pearl necklace was worth over £17million in today's money (Image: Getty)

The flawless jewels were so perfect, the necklace became known globally as the “Mona Lisa of Pearls”, and was insured for a staggering £150,000 – over £17million in today’s money. 

However, the precious treasure became embroiled in a dramatic theft that reads like an Agatha Christie mystery.

In 1913, Mr Meyer offered the piece to a Parisian dealer to view before the sale fell through.

That July, the dealer returned the necklace to Mr Meyer in Hatton Garden by registered post, closing the precious package with three monogrammed seals.

Hatton Garden Safe DepositA diamond worker demonstrated the hole drilled by thieves in the 2015 Hatton Garden heist (Image: Getty)

When Mr Meyer broke the intact seals and opened the package, he discovered the necklace had been replaced by 11 lumps of sugar.

A Scotland Yard investigation ensued, and quickly targeted famed jewel-thief Joseph Grizzard.

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