…And now for a little bit of fun! The following is a guest post by Matt Blick. If you are interested in guest posting at Club Thrifty, please see our guest posting guidelines.
If you’ve ever seen a gangster movie, you’ll know that diamond heists are the stuff of legend. However, many film plots don’t even approach the risk, stakes and consequences of real-life diamond robberies.
To pull off a heist, you need more than just George Clooney’s grin: the world’s most famous diamond heists took years of planning and state-of-the-art technology, and many of the gems were never seen again.
Antwerp Diamond Heist
The most colossal modern diamond theft was the Antwerp Diamond Heist of 2003, where a ring of five men got away with $100 million worth of diamond rings, jewelry, gold and assorted gems. They were led by master thief Leonardo Notarbartolo, who became so famous – even after he was caught – that he gave an interview to Wired Magazine about the heist, and it’s now being made into a film.
According to Notarbartolo, he rented a small store in the Antwerp Diamond Centre, posed as a diamond seller himself for months, and then ransacked the Centre’s safety deposit boxes. The thieves bypassed multiple layers of security, including guards, infrared heat detectors, a seismic sensor and magnetic fields – and succeeded. None of the jewels were ever located, and Notarbartolo claims he was hired by a mysterious dealer who’s never been caught.
Graff Diamond Heist
The Graff Diamond Heist of 2009 was less elegant. Two men in disguise held up the British Graff Diamonds store using guns, and stole 43 pieces of jewelry, including engagement rings and necklaces. The ensuing getaway car chase was chaotic, but the gang was caught: they left a mobile phone behind.
Cannes Film Festival Heist
The Cannes Film Festival diamond heists of 2013 are now infamous. Chopard, which sponsors the film festival, had an employee place millions of diamonds in her hotel safe – but when she went out to a party, the safe was cracked and the jewels stolen. The thieves knew exactly when the woman left the hotel and how to crack her safe, leading to suspicions of an inside job. Several days later more jewels were stolen, but thus far no arrests have been made.
The Pink Panthers
If you want glamour, the diamond heists of the international ring of thieves known to police as the Pink Panthers are the stuff of novels. The gang is thought to have been responsible for several robberies, but their most spectacular was in 2008. Several immaculately dressed men (some disguised as women) waltzed into Harry Winston, the world’s most famous diamond ring company, and stole $108 million in watches and jewels, with the help of handguns and excellent knowledge of all the store’s secret safes.
The Italian Job
A heist known as ‘The Italian Job’ was done by drilling, night after night, through the 4 foot wall into the famous Damiani showroom in Milan in February 2008. The thieves then dressed in police uniforms and appeared through the hole, bound and gagged employees and escaped with $200 million in gold and diamonds, never to be seen again. The ironic flaw in their very Hollywood plan? Many of the best pieces were on loan to stars at the Oscars that week.
Museon Museum Heist
But the greatest unsolved heist in history is the 2002 raid on the Museon Museum of Science in The Hague. To this day, not a single clue has been uncovered. The stolen jewels, many of which were priceless historic artefacts, were taken under the eye of 24 hour security and surveillance, in a motion detection zone and behind supposedly unbreakable glass. The jewels are so famous they can’t have been sold on the open market – but unscrupulous private collectors have been known to use less than legal methods to acquire stones.
This blog post was written by Matt Blick, director of and content writer for The Diamond Ring Company who has a passion for jewelry and anything that sparkles!