Crime and Safety

Tiffany’s Jewelry Tycoon Plunges from Cruise Ship Under Mysterious Circumstances

Questions have been raised in the mysterious death of a wealthy Turkey-based Tiffany & Co. jewelry distributor, who somehow plunged to her death while on a cruise vacation in the South Pacific with her Swiss partner.

According to the Daily Mail, Dilek Ertek, 71, a distributor of the luxury jewelry brand for two decades, reportedly fell into the sea from the Norwegian Spirit ship on Oct. 26. The circumstances surrounding her disappearance and presumed death include alleged stolen jewelry from a safe in her cabin, according to her son, Gokce Atuk.

Ertek’s cruise shoved off on Oct. 24 from Papeete Island, French Polynesia. The trip was reportedly a planned birthday celebration on the island of Bora Bora. The ship was scheduled to end in Honolulu.

A search and rescue operation for Ertek’s body has since been called off.

Closed-circuit camera footage reportedly shows Ertek going overboard at roughly 3 a.m. However, her unnamed Switzerland-based boyfriend didn’t file a missing persons report until approximately 20 hours after her disappearance, raising additional questions.

The boyfriend, 74, was reportedly monitored and kept in separate quarters on the cruise ship until it could dock in Tahiti, where authorities questioned him. Ultimately, he was released from detention and cleared to return to Switzerland.

The Daily Mail noted that more questions were raised during the investigation, citing Turkish media reports. Those reports included allegations that Tahitian law enforcement authorities didn’t properly search Ertek’s room and, given the proximity of her death, which was just outside of Tahitian jurisdiction, also claimed that police in Tahiti simply did the bare minimum for the investigation and moved on.

Do you think she was murdered?

In addition to the stolen jewelry, additional questions surfaced over the specific actions that might have led to her death, including her height, 5-foot-1, compared to the height of the 3-foot-high railing in her cabin that protects people from simply accidentally falling overboard.

According to the New York Post, Mustafa Can, a ship captain, reportedly told Turkish media that the details of her death didn’t add up, at least in his mind.

“It is difficult to fall from this type of passenger and cruise ship,” the captain reportedly told Turkish media.

The New York Post added that a “local officer” told Sabah, a Turkish newspaper, that Ertek’s disappearance and death was “suspicious,” focusing especially on the delayed missing person report.

“Because on cruise ships, daily activities and entertainment are organized frequently and everyone is in contact with each other,” the unnamed officer reportedly wrote. “People who cannot hear from each other inform the front desk and make an announcement. So it is confusing that the news of the disappearance is given 20 hours later.”

According to the Daily Mail, Ertek was born in Istanbul. She graduated from Mimar Sinan University, Department of Architecture, and would later study diamonds in the United States at the New York-based Gemological Institute of America.

She launched Turkey’s first Tiffany & Co. luxury jewelry shop in 1995 and would operate as a distributor for the jewelry line for the following 20 years.

Reportedly, her attorneys will file a lawsuit against Norweigan Cruise Line.

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