Milan—Some $8.5 million worth of jewelry once owned by Eva “Evita” Peron, the infamous former first lady of Argentina, was found in a hotel room here on Wednesday.
According to the Italian Carabinieri, who had been working with Spanish police, Peron’s diamond tiara, diamond earrings and rings were found in a deserted hotel room on the outskirts of Milan.
Total Jewelry Collection Valued at $14 Million
“The persons who rented the room are on the run, and they are members of a criminal group from Serbia who lived outside Milan,” Italian police official Antonino Bolognani said during a news conference.
Spanish and Italian investigators have been on the trail of the missing jewels since a gang of Serbian thieves stole the entire collection–estimated to be worth $14 million–from a store in Valencia, Spain in December 2009.
According to new reports, the gang had pretended to be Arab sheikhs who were interested in purchasing the jewels, but duped the sellers and ran away with the jewelry—including the $5.6 million diamond tiara given to Evita by the Dutch royal family.
Since Spanish and Italian police have been on the case, they have arrested six members of the gang in 2010. The final member of the gang was tracked down in Milan, where he fled, leaving the jewels behind in the hotel room he was booked.
Nearly 60 years after she died of cancer at age 33, Evita, the second wife of Argentine President Juan Peron, remains a popular and controversial figure. While she started charity foundations to help Argentina’s poor, she also was a lover of couture and jewelry, especially Christian Dior, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels.
Her life was made into a Tony-award winning musical by Andrew Lloyd-Weber which was later turned into movie starring Madonna.