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Buckle Bumblers Get Nabbed Holding Loot From Billionaire’s Heist

July 8, 1993

NICE, France (AP) _ Robbers emptied American tycoon Marvin Davis’ chauffered limousine of $10 million in jewels with ease this week. But those holding the loot bag tripped up when they failed to buckle up.

Two men holding some of the stolen goods were stopped for not fastening their seat belts, police said Wednesday.

A search of their car turned up the Davises’ credit cards and papers, and the suspects tipped authorities to a garbage bag under a rock in Nice where three-quarters of the gems were stashed.

On Wednesday, police said Davis and his wife, Barbara, recovered the valuables, including a 32.44-carat diamond, about the size of a quarter across.

In Los Angeles, however, Lee Solters, a spokesman for Davis, said the couple had retrieved only a ring and some cash. Solters, who said he spoke with Davis on Wednesday, could not explain why police and Davis’ accounts differed.

The flamboyant Davis, who made his wealth in oil and once owned 20th Century Fox, refused to take reporters’ calls at the posh Hotel du Cap at the Cap d’Antibes where he and his wife were staying.

The couple were held up Saturday by four masked gunmen who cut off the Davises’ limo from the front and rear and got away with $10 million in jewels and $50,000 in cash kept in a strongbox in the trunk.

A bodyguard who had been blocked in traffic in a separate car arrived minutes after the bandits fled.

The American couple had traveled to the French Riviera after taking in the Wimbledon tennis tournament in Britain.

Still clouding their holiday was the absence of some jewels, including a gold and diamond necklaces, a pair of earrings and a valuable watch, police said.

All the stolen jewels were insured, however.

Any holiday plans that Jean-Luc Pieto and Jean-Pierre Berquin might have had were spoiled, too, on Wednesday when the two men, both 42 and from the Paris area, were charged with receiving stolen property and jailed in nearby Grasse. It was not clear if the two suspects, who were arrested Tuesday, had a role in the heist.

The Davises’ passports, credits cards and other papers were found in the trunk of the suspects’ borrowed Renault.

Davis is a former oil wildcatter who liquidated his oil holdings before the industry slumped in the early 1980s. He became involved in high-profile takeovers and acquired 20th Century Fox in 1981.

The studio’s films under his ownership flopped, but when he sold out to Rupert Murdoch four years later, he turned a $325 million profit.

The famed Pebble Beach Golf Links is another former possession of the cash- heavy billionaire, rated the 21st most wealthy American by Fortune Magazine with a net worth of $2.6 billion.

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