Image: Kim Kardashian West participates in a television interview as she arrives for the 20th Annual Webby Awards in Manhattan, New York, U.S., May 16, 2016.
By Leigh Thomas
PARIS/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Reality TV star Kim Kardashian returned to New York “badly shaken” on Monday after being robbed at gunpoint in her Paris residence by masked men who stole some $10 million worth of jewelry.
Kardashian, wearing sunglasses and with her head bowed, was pictured entering her Manhattan apartment with her rapper husband Kanye West. She had left Paris by private jet hours after robbers tied her up in the bathroom and put a gun to her head.
According to her publicist, Kardashian was “badly shaken but physically unharmed.” She said nothing to waiting media upon her arrival.
The reality star’s friends, including Jonathan Cheban and La La Anthony, turned up at her residence shortly after her arrival and also avoided talking to the media.
“What happened is very unfortunate and those responsible must be severely punished,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told TV5 Monde. “We are fully mobilised to ensure the safety of the French people, as well as all those who visit France, and in particular tourists.”
A Paris police source earlier told Reuters that five attackers, wearing ski masks and clothes with police markings, struck around 3 a.m. (0100 GMT) inside the exclusive apartment block where Kardashian, 35, was staying while attending Paris Fashion Week.
Two of the men entered Kardashian’s apartment after threatening the night guard with a hand gun. Kardashian, who has two young children with West, was not beaten but the robbers put a handgun against her temple before tying her up, the source said. iTELE television said she had been tied up with packing tape.
E! News, whose U.S. network broadcasts the “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” television show, on Monday quoted a source close to Kardashian as saying she feared for her life.
“She begged for them to let her live and (said) she has babies at home… She thought they were for sure going to kill her,” the unidentified source told E! News.
The robbers stole a box containing jewels worth 5 million to 6 million euros ($5.6 million to $6.7 million) and a ring worth about 4 million euros ($4.5 million), the Paris police source said.
As news of the robbery spread, West abruptly ended a performance in New York less than an hour into his set on Sunday night.
SOCIAL MEDIA DIVIDED
The Paris apartment block is a discreet building behind the city’s Madeleine church, with several secret entrances, often frequented by movie and music stars who pay up to 15,000 euros ($16,800) a night.
The source said the attackers fled on bicycles. Police found the night guard in the staircase, his hand and feet bound.
Kardashian was in Paris with her mother, Kris Jenner, and sisters Kendall Jenner and Kourtney Kardashian to attend fashion week. The rest of the family stayed in a hotel.
The robbery set social media alight, with some users making fun of the latest headline-grabbing event for a TV star who documents her life continually on screen and on social media.
Most comments, however, were supportive. Talk show host James Corden said on Twitter that people “would do well to remember that she’s a mother, a daughter, a wife, a friend. Be nice or shut up.”
Paris has seen several armed robberies on high-end jewelry stores in recent months and the Kardashian incident could add to worries about safety in Paris, hit by a series of attacks by Islamist militants last year.
Paris traditionally is the most-visited city in the world, but tourist numbers fell 6.4 percent in the first half of 2016 as many Asians and Americans stayed away.
“We worry about the image of Paris. This will be all over the news channels, imagine the negative publicity,” Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, head of the conservative opposition in Paris, told Europe 1 radio.
(Reporting by the Reuters French service, Leigh Thomas, Geert De Clercq and Astrid Wendlandt, Ingrid Melander, Elizabeth Pineau in Paris, Jill Serjeant, Melissa Fares and Chris Michaud in New York; Editing by Bill Trott, Alan Crosby and Bernard Orr)
Copyright 2016 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.