Tuesday, March 24, 2009

the untold story of the world's biggest diamond heist

Headings like that send chills down my spine.

When sheer intelligence tears through social rules of legality,
and appropriates wealth based on their guts,
it is inspiring, and commendable in a very perverse way.

Think Catch Me If You Can,

or even closer to our true story, Ocean's 11, 12, 13....

Or maybe you just need 4.

Behold, our hero Leonardo Notarbartolo.

Sorry folks, you HAVE to be Italian to qualify as a classy, legendary mafia ringleader.

Tan Hock Guan just doesn't cut it.

According to our reporter Joshua Davis, you also have to "radiate sunny Italian charm".

So Notarbartolo's 4 set out to execute the biggest diamond heist in the centre of all diamond transactions, Antwerp.

In February 2003, Notarbartolo was arrested for heading a ring of Italian thieves. They were accused of breaking into a vault two floors beneath the Antwerp Diamond Center and making off with at least $100 million worth of loose diamonds, gold, jewelry, and other spoils.

The vault was thought to be impenetrable. It was protected by 10 layers of security, including infrared heat detectors, Doppler radar, a magnetic field, a seismic sensor, and a lock with 100 million possible combinations.

The robbery was called the heist of the century, and even now the police can't explain exactly how it was done.

After prying open 123 vaults, they were so loaded down they gave up on the remaining 37.

Is it just me, or shouldn't highly confidential safe boxes be stored in separate rooms?

Otherwise, if each owner were to have access to his gems this way, shouldn't he be accompanied by security?

The downfall of Notarbartolo is equally dramatic:
his heart overruled his head,
and he involved an accomplice based on friendship, not skill...
proving to be his Achilles heel.

Read this brilliantly written interview on Wired. :)


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