The wealthy owner of Tiffany’s jewellery empire in Turkey has died after falling from a cruise ship during a dream South Sea Islands holiday.
Dilek Ertek, 71 – the distributor of Tiffany’s in Turkey for over 20 years – is believed to have died after plunging into South Pacific off the coast of Tahiti from the Norwegian Spirit ship on 26th October.
Her family – reports respected Turkish newspaper Sabah – have urged police to investigate her Swiss national lover, who was with her on the trip.
Ertek’s son Gokce Atuk says jewellery had gone missing from the safe in his mother’s cabin.
And despite ship CCTV footage showing she probably fell at 3am on 26th October, her lover – who has not been named – only reported her missing some 20 hours later, according to local media.
The 74-year-old lover was kept under observation by the ship’s crew in a separate cabin before they then docked in Tahiti three days later.
He was reportedly questioned by police in Tahiti before being released due to a lack of evidence. He has since returned to Switzerland.
A search at sea for Ertek’s body has been discontinued.
Ertek had boarded the vessel on 24th October in Papeete Island, French Polynesia, to celebrate her birthday in Bora Bora, a small South Pacific island on 5th November.
The cruise was set to end in Honolulu, in Hawaii.
A search for her body was organised immediately but to no avail, with the vessel reporting the situation to the authorities and returning to the nearest port, on Papeete Island.
Security footage from the vessel is being studied, with images showing that an unknown figure fell into the sea at that time, according to Turkish media.
Turkish media report that there are also issues with the investigation.
It is claimed that Tahitian authorities did not search Ertek’s room properly.
Some feel they have only gone through the motions as the death happened outside their area of jurisdiction.
But lawyers for Ertek have reportedly argued that the investigation is Tahiti’s responsibility as it was the closest country when the incident at sea happened.
Her lawyers are reportedly preparing to file a suit against the ship’s operator.
Gokce Atuk reportedly went to Tahiti to help with the search efforts, which have now been stopped, prompting him to launch legal challenges.
Experts seem baffled over how Ertek – who was just 1.58 metres tall and tee-total – was able to fall over the metre-high guard rail to her cabin.
Captain Mustafa Can reportedly said: “It is difficult to fall from this type of passenger and cruise ship.”
Dilek Ertek was born in Istanbul and graduated from Mimar Sinan University, Department of Architecture.
She went on to study diamonds at the Gemological Institute of America in New York.
At the end of 1995, she opened the first Tiffany store in Istanbul. She was the distributor of Tiffany & Co. in Turkey for more than 20 years.