Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Great Antwerp Diamond Heist!

This is a fascinating article from Wired on how a group of 5 men were able to rob the Antwerp Diamond Center.

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.

It is a made for movie story and I found myself casting the fast paced thriller that will hopefully come out of this true story. Most of the people were caught via circumstantial evidence and are serving 5-10 year sentences.

Supposedly they stole only $20 million of a possible $100 million and they found lots of the leather diamond bags empty. So there may have been an insurance scam done by their benefactor who was either a Mafiosi or a Jewish diamond merchant. That person tipped off fellow diamond merchants who hid their diamonds before the heist and then put claims in that they were stolen. Or the heisters could have hid the extra diamonds and will divvy it up after they all get out of prison.

The story even had cool nicknames for the various members of the Heist team.

There was the Genius who was a master of getting past all sorts of bank vault sensors and set up a hidden camera to watch a guard put in the vault combination. I would make this guy a really cocky guy that is smart as a whip. I think Stanley Tucci would fit this role.

One was called the Monster who was an electrician, wheelman, and had vast physical strength. He had to sneak into the vault and get past a combination motion and heat detector and splice a length of cable that blocked the sensor circuit that came out of the vault area so they could work. I would make this guy a tough guy actor like Vinnie Jones.

One was called the King of Keys and he was a master locksmith and lock picker who's job was to make a huge 1 foot key to get past the vault. He also picked the various locks that they had to get through. I would make this person someone like Bill Nighy.

Then there was a nervous associate of Notarbartolo called Speedy who had a panic attack and caused them to be caught when he threw all of the evidence away instead of burning it. I would cast someone like Steve Buscemi.

Then there the master jewel thief, Notarbartolo who is the face-man of the operation. He pretended to be a jovial jewel merchant from Italy and was actually casing the Antwerp Diamond District in order to steal money from various merchants there.

He was the leader of the group and had to go into the vault and take pictures and set up the heist. He was also a family man that seemed like a decent enough guy for a jewel thief. This would have to be the main character of the film but doesn't have to be an action hero type of guy. I would make him someone like Paul Giamatti. I think he can play smart and jovial but with a calculating side.

I hope someone has the rights because this would make one of the all time caper films.

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