The history of Formula 1 is entire of controversy and trickery, normally related to sneaky engineering or the action on lead. But this fib has about nothing to do with racing itself. alternatively, it ‘s a fib with all the makings of a Hollywood armed robbery : Monaco, movie stars, and a $ 250,000 diamond that remains missing to this day. But this is n’t fabrication. Rewind to the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix. Jaguar Racing, its drivers, and its sponsors rolled into that rush weekend looking to score some points and make a sprinkle with a big promotion tied to the film Ocean ‘s Twelve—the highlight of which involved the team placing real diamonds worth approximately $ 250K each on the nosecones of its two cars in the race. If you ‘re already thinking that sounds like a bad estimate, well, you ‘re onto something .
An F1 Team Lost a $250,000 Diamond at the Monaco GP, and It’s Still Missing Today
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Drivers christian Klien ( left ) and Mark Webber ( right ) stand with Ocean ‘s Twelve stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon in the pits. The wing shown features the belittled, button-sized rhombus the cars ran with on-track throughout the weekend .
As it happened, Jaguar driver Christian Klien crashed out on the very foremost lap, getting caught up in traffic, losing his battlefront fender and spearing into the wall on a hairpin turn. Klien was oklahoma ; his car was craned off the lead and the race continued. But the button-sized diamond previously affixed to the car ‘s nose ? It vanished, never to be seen again, sparking a mystery that remains unsolved today. How ‘s that for PR ? [ Join us and our sister web site, MEL Magazine, for Cars & Crime Week. It is a 10-story team-up between both sites that explores stories through the lens of cars and shows that true crime international relations and security network ’ t all serial killers and nitwitted murders ( for the most separate ). ]

Diamonds Are an F1 Car’s Best Friend

The Monaco Grand Prix is itself the perfective case of wealth and excess in F1. The bantam principality ‘s subspecies is often considered the most prestigious on the calendar and a choice aim for celebrities looking to immerse themselves in the greatest party in motorsport. With yachts parked by the track and the circuit winding amongst some of the most expensive real estate in the universe, it provided a perfect backdrop for what was to blossom in May 2004. That year, Jaguar ‘s F1 team was in its fifth season. There was enough of press from Ford, the owner, and HSBC, the main patron, both of which were growing tired of the team ‘s lackluster results. The team had finished seventh in the builder ‘s championship for two years running, so 2003 ‘s season had focused on cutting costs while aiming to achieve “ respectability ” with regards to performance. Both eluded the team however.   Speaking to The Drive, Nav Sidhu, then Jaguar Racing ‘s director of communications, notes that at that time the imperativeness was on for the team to deliver something to justify its huge budget. “ It was no secret at the fourth dimension that Ford was looking to sell the team, ” says Sidhu, adding that Jaguar Racing “ was under a set of imperativeness … to go out there, and truly try and get value from its presence in Formula 1. ” additionally, Sidhu had long felt that F1 was n’t doing enough with the promotional opportunities the spectacle of the Monaco Grand Prix presented, noting that “ You ‘d get your stars turning up [ at Monaco ] … they ‘d put a pas on, they ‘d turn up on the grid, they ‘d do an interview to promote their new film or album, and that would be about a much as Formula 1 would do with these A-listers in town. ” Having heard Ocean ‘s Twelve was in production, Sidhu set about pitching a promotional distribute that would see the team reskin its whole operation for the Monaco Grand Prix with Ocean ‘s Twelve stigmatize. His plan was to use the flashiness, glamor, and wealth of Monaco as the ideal backdrop to promote a burglarize film, while using the movie ‘s stars to draw attention to the Jaguar brand. possibly fortunately, Jaguar had previously worked with Steinmetz Group, a ball-shaped diamond dealer, setting up the weekend ‘s big moment : Steinmetz handed over multiple diamonds—five total, according to Sidhu—to be fitted to the nosecones of the actual slipstream cars during the Grand Prix. For an early photocall, the cars wore a giant emerald-cut gem stuck on the front, unbranded. For the actual contest, actual diamonds were set in a stainless steel steel carrier, which was embedded into the identical tip of the nosecone, along with Steinmetz stigmatize .
An F1 Team Lost a $250,000 Diamond at the Monaco GP, and It’s Still Missing Today
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A large emerald-cut gem was shown attached to a Jaguar R5 nosecone at a imperativeness event. however, the cars only ran with the smaller button-sized rhombus on lead .
An F1 Team Lost a $250,000 Diamond at the Monaco GP, and It’s Still Missing Today
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A close-up shooting of one of the nosecones fitted with a button-sized Steinmetz rhombus. Some noses were seen with a “ Steinmetz ” logo poser, others without, as seen here .
In the history of hideous PR stunts, the decision to mount expensive stones on the front of cars on a track known for tight racing sticks out as a curious one. Monaco is one of the easiest places to snag a wing on a barrier or to clip another car. ( And if we ‘re truly going to get into it, the diamonds were n’t the best link with the film. Ocean ’ s Twelve primarily concerns the larceny of a Fabergé egg, not a gem. ) regardless, varying reports valued the diamonds anywhere from $ 200,000 to over $ 350,000, depending on the media release, with confusion possibly stemming from the values being quoted in GBP or USD . The Guardian and CNN pegged the stones as worth £140,000 each, which at the fourth dimension of the raceway, would come out to around $ 250,000 USD.

According to Sidhu, though, the danger was the target. “ If there was no hazard, there would n’t be a narrative in it in the first place. There ’ south nothing remotely interesting about putting a ball field on a car, other than situations where there might be a risk to that ball field. ” While it might seem prudent to use stunt diamonds, Sidhu points out that it was out of the interrogate. “ These were veridical diamonds, ” says Sidhu, noting that “ You ‘re merely not going to find a reputable diamond company in the earth that ‘s gon na give you fake diamonds. ” He adds that all parties were intelligibly mindful of the risks going in, and that the reputational wrong to Steinmetz if the diamonds were revealed to be fake would be far more dearly-won than the prize of a single lost ball field anyhow .
An F1 Team Lost a $250,000 Diamond at the Monaco GP, and It’s Still Missing Today
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Sidhu ‘s overlord plan involved getting the a-list stars of Ocean ‘s Twelve down to the track. Clooney, Pitt, and Damon agreed after Sidhu made a lurch to the actors on the set of the film.

Sidhu ‘s design was bigger than merely F1, excessively. His efforts to pitch the forwarding to the movie ‘s producer, Hollywood legend Jerry Weintraub, had paid off, and he ‘d secured a handshake deal that the stars of Ocean ‘s Twelve would be confront for the subspecies weekend. Jaguar had press shoots with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon at the race, helping to generate major crossover voter appeal. It was an absolute PR coup for the midfield team. The stunt was n’t without its logistic hurdles, though.   F1 ‘s parc ferme regulations state that cars can not be modified beyond the qualifying school term of the race weekend, meaning the cars could n’t just have the diamonds stuck on for the raceway itself. In the end, the Jaguar cars ran with the diamonds attached from Thursday drill onwards. Jaguar driver Klien even crashed in one of the practice sessions, though the damage was to the raise of the car, with the nose remaining unharmed. Looking back, that was just foreshadowing the events that would unfold on race day .
An F1 Team Lost a $250,000 Diamond at the Monaco GP, and It’s Still Missing Today
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multiple nosecones are necessary in character some are damaged throughout the weekend. According to Sidhu, Steinmetz supplied five diamonds to the team for the nosecones .

Just Part of the Chaos

On Sunday May 23, 2004, the last clock time anyone saw the rhombus, Klien himself did n’t even get to drive for identical farseeing. The race itself took some time to get going ; the start was aborted twice, once for Olivier Panis stalling his Toyota, a second time for Jarno Trulli ’ s Renault leaking coolant onto the traverse. After all that fuss, the Grand Prix finally got afoot on the third attempt .
An F1 Team Lost a $250,000 Diamond at the Monaco GP, and It’s Still Missing Today
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The start of the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix. Klien can be seen at the back of the pack, in between the two Jordans of Nick Heidfeld and Giorgio Pantano .
As the cars tore away, Klien immediately found himself in the blockheaded of the struggle, having qualified a humble 15th on the grid. Cars jostled for membership to secure their stead in the typical Monaco precession, as the lead offers little opportunity for passing. As is typical on Lap 1, slaughter ensued. Trapped between the two Jordan entries at the back of the pack, Klien made contact with Nick Heidfeld ‘s car. As a leave, Klien ‘s wing broke off and ended up jammed under the presence wheels of his Jaguar. He was left with minimal braking ability and zero steer as his car plowed heterosexual ahead down the rivulet towards the Loews hairpin. The Jaguar went nose-first into the barriers on the inaugural lap, with Klien ‘s subspecies over less than a minute after lights out. The nosecone of the Jaguar was buried in the tire wall, so marshals threw yellow flags to cover the area and stepped in to help recover the car. A group pushed the vehicle away from the tire wall and craned it off the track. It was an ill end to rookie Klien ’ s first slipstream at Monaco, all over before it had actually begun .
An F1 Team Lost a $250,000 Diamond at the Monaco GP, and It’s Still Missing Today
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Marshalls working to recover Klien ‘s cable car after the barge in .
And what about the baseball diamond ? That ‘s precisely what Sidhu was thinking at that here and now, as he told The Independent equitable after the race while calls from press started pouring in. “ At that point, I should credibly have been worried about the car or the race or the driver but, I must admit, my immediate think was for the rhombus, ” he said then. Complicating things, Jaguar team members couldn ’ t get to the car veracious away ascribable to base hit regulations during the Grand Prix. By the time they ultimately did get down there two hours former, they realized the diamond had disappeared .

So Where Did It Go?

An F1 Team Lost a $250,000 Diamond at the Monaco GP, and It’s Still Missing Today
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Klien ‘s car hit the barriers at the Loews Hairpin, after contact with Nick Heidfeld ‘s Jordan .
naturally, plenty of photos were taken of the crash, as F1 photographers work hard to document the action. Most display Klien ’ randomness car nosed into the tire wall outside the corner and the marshals ‘ efforts to recover the fomite. press at the time didn ’ thyroxine go deep into investigating the whereabouts of the diamond subsequently, with Sidhu and many others content to believe that person had likely pocketed it in the aftermath. As Sidhu told The Guardian at the time, “ person here has walked away with more than a drive racing keepsake. ” As for who that might be, premier suspects would naturally be anyone stage around the car during the recovery work. They would have been well-placed to cursorily pick up and pocket a patch of carbon fiber with a ball field stick on it without anyone notice. But after reviewing the photograph and footage, I think it ’ mho highly improbable the corner marshals standing outside the barrier at Loews could have recovered the diamond, despite this democratic narrative .

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