Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History

By Greg Campbell, Scott Andrew Selby

On February 15, 2003, a bunch of thieves broke into an allegedly hermetic vault within the foreign diamond capital of Antwerp, Belgium and made off with over $108 million cash worthy of diamonds and different valuables. They did so with no tripping an alarm or injuring a unmarried defend within the process.

Although the crime was once ideal, the getaway used to be no longer. The police zeroed in on a band thieves fronted via Leonardo Notarbartolo, a dapper Italian who had rented an place of work within the Diamond heart and clandestinely cased its vault for over years.  The “who” of the crime have been replied, however the “how” remained mostly a mystery.

Enter Scott Andrew Selby, a Harvard legislation grad and diamond specialist, and Greg Campbell, writer of Blood Diamonds, who undertook a world goose chase to discover the genuine tale in the back of the bold heist. monitoring the threads of the tale all through Europe—from Belgium to Italy, in seedy cafés and glossy diamond offices—the authors looked after via an array of conflicting info, divergent critiques and incongruous theories to place jointly the puzzle of what truly occurred that Valentine’s Day weekend.

This real-life Ocean’s Eleven—a mix of diamond historical past, journalistic reportage, and riveting true-crime story—provides an exciting in-depth examine detailing the better-than-fiction heist of the century.

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Even sooner than the 1400s, while Belgian craftsmen invented the thoughts for slicing diamonds into the shapes which are popular and precious this day, the stones have been thought of precious and strong. as a result of their hardness and their skill to refract mild, they have been usually thought of to have mystical powers, reminiscent of invisibility and immortality. nobody is sure whilst diamonds have been first stumbled on. the 1st point out of them is located within the Arthashastra, an economics handbook from India believed to were written round the fourth century BCE. For millions of years, India used to be believed to be the only resource of diamonds. Then they have been found in Brazil in 1725. while early because the overdue 19th century, those nations have been thought of the one locations to seem for diamonds. Diamonds, in reality, are available internationally. again whilst lifestyles in the world consisted of single-celled organisms, diamonds have been propelled from their subterranean birthplace throughout the volcanic throes of a tender planet’s growing to be pains. because the earth ventilated itself, volcanic eruptions spewed in the course of the earth’s crust, showering ash, magma, and rocks for dozens, or even thousands, of miles. The private of those explosive occasions originated a ways under the diamond balance box and punched via successive layers as they rose to the head. something intercepted alongside the way in which, together with diamonds, was once combined jointly and went alongside for the journey. now not all diamonds survived the journey up a river of magma. It used to be a precarious trip that required every little thing to move correct for them to make it to the earth’s floor intact. finally, those former magma flows constructed into kimberlite or lamproite pipes. formed like carrots, those diamond pipes tended to be a lot more youthful than the diamonds they carried, anyplace from 50 million to at least one. 6 billion years outdated. If the magma didn't go back and forth upward quickly sufficient, the diamonds become graphite by the point they comprehensive their trip. those historic volcanoes are long gone, however the pipes they created are nonetheless there, covered with the long-ago cooled and hardened miasmic stew of geological particles of kimberlite. no longer all volcanoes contained kimberlite, and never all kimberlite comprises diamonds—but lots does. Centuries of abrasion have loosened those eight-sided super-hard crystals, permitting them to migrate throughout spans of 1000's of miles. The ensuing alluvial deposits produce diamonds from slightly below the floor, occasionally from underneath only a foot or of airborne dirt and dust over vast components. The diamond-bearing kimberlite pipes themselves can comprise the stones as a ways down as males can dig. Diamond pipes are present in nations world wide, together with Australia, Canada, the us, Brazil, India, Russia, and all through Africa, yet geologists didn’t commence actively searching for them till diamonds have been stumbled on in abundance in South Africa within the 1860s. through that point, the diamond used to be good confirmed, quite in Antwerp. there has been lingering confrontation over the place, precisely, the perform of slicing and sprucing diamonds into gems had first taken root, in Brugge or Antwerp.

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