The Monaco Diamond Conspiracy

On the lead up to the 2004 Monaco weekend, the Jaguar team revealed they would be running a special livery for the Grand Prix to promote the release of the movie Ocean’s Twelve. As part of the promotion, the Steinmetz Diamond Group – led by a Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz – would be installing two $250,000 shirt button-sized diamonds into the noses of the Jaguar R5s for the race.

Running expensive diamonds in one of the most fragile, exposed parts of the car and on the most difficult circuit of the year was a risky decision. For Steinmetz, the risk didn’t pay off. On the first lap, Klien ran into the back of Heidfeld at the Mirabeau and heading towards towards Loews, the front wing fell off and got under the front wheels leaving Klien with no steering. The result was the Jaguar was buried nose first – and diamond first – into the tyre wall.

The car was pushed back and quickly craned away by marshals so the race could continue and the Jaguar was left in a nearby car park, with the remains of the front wing dumped in the cockpit. Two hours later, when the mechanics finally received the car back in the garage, they discovered, much to their horror, that the diamond had disappeared.

Assuming that the diamond had fallen out on contact with the wall, team officials conducted a vigorous search at the hairpin on Sunday night, but it came to nought. An appeal was then put out in the off-chance someone found it and a reward was offered for its safe return in the form of a $45,000 car, which was believed at the time to be a brand new Jaguar X-Type. No one came forward and a press statement was later released stating, “Both Steinmetz and Jaguar Racing were saddened by the loss of a unique piece of Grand Prix memorabilia that was destined to be auctioned for charity at a later date.”

The diamond was ultimately never found.

Speculation led some to believe the diamond was stolen, while others insist it was all staged as part of the movie deal. After all, a precious $250,000 gem going missing didn’t sound so far away from the gangster/heist plot of the movie they were promoting. Given the risks of involved of driving at such high speed so close to the barriers, some have suggested the Jaguars were surely not carrying real diamonds at all. The chances are we shall never know.



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