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Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  1,792 Ratings  ·  210 Reviews

On February 15, 2003, a group of thieves broke into an allegedly airtight vault in the international diamond capital of Antwerp, Belgium and made off with over $108 million dollars worth of diamonds and other valuables. They did so without tripping an alarm or injuring a single guard in the process.

Although the crime was perfect, the getaway was not. The police zeroed in

Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by Union Square Press (first published 2010)
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Feb 17, 2010 Lisa rated it liked it
I got this eBook free via Barnes & Noble on Facebook! It's a good read so far -- has the feel of Ocean's 11, except it's a true story. I'm learning a lot of things that I didn't know about the Antwerp diamond district -- which I didn't even know existed.
Mar 02, 2017 Suzanne rated it it was amazing
The fun of participating in reading challenges is discovering exciting new books. I was challenged to read a book having to do with diamonds, so I selected a non-fiction work about a jewel heist.

In 2003, a group of Italian thieves broke into a secure vault in Antwerp's Diamond District, and stole what could be valued at $500 million in jewels, precious metals and cash. Author Scott Andrew Selby presents a work of narrative non-fiction, outlining the impressive details of the robbery and how law
Aug 16, 2013 Jacob rated it liked it
This was a decent account of a very interesting crime. I guess I expected the story to be somewhat similar to the movie of the same name, but it was totally different. In fact, the only thing similar besides the name is that it is a story of a diamond heist. Anyway, I don't think that prevents me from evaluating this book on its merits.

There's some good background here on the diamond industry, and the authors are pretty careful to make it clear in the text what they know for sure and what is con
May 04, 2017 JRay rated it it was amazing
Fascinating true story about the largest diamond heist in history. An easy and enjoyable read!
Elisha Condie
Nov 21, 2011 Elisha Condie rated it really liked it
This was certainly interesting, and entertaining. Leonardo Notarbartolo is a small time Italian crook and he, along with several crook buddies (who form an informal organization called the School of Turin) plan to rob a vault in Antwerp's Diamond District. Just like the cover says, it's all very "Ocean's Eleven". There's the electronics guy, the supply guy, the charismatic leader guy.

And they are so close to getting away with it when just a couple of bad coincidences tie them to the crime. An
Mar 09, 2010 Bridget rated it it was amazing
A group of thieves pulled off a perfect robbery in 2003. The alarms didn't trip and no one was injured. Making it out with over one hundred million dollars in diamonds and jewels. The police were able to find out who the culprits were but they were baffled by how the heist went so smoothly. The big dog of the group was an Italian man named Leonardo who worked out of a Diamond Center office. Scott, a law graduate and Greg, an author, teamed up to find out what really happened during one of the mo ...more
Lori Paximadis
Feb 17, 2010 Lori Paximadis rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this well-told, suspenseful story of a real-life vault robbery and how it came together. Lots of interesting information here about the diamond business in general, too, as well as Antwerp's diamond district.
Apr 17, 2010 Bridget rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
I really enjoyed this book, which was surprising considering I picked it out at random at the library. It's like a real-life Ocean's 11 story. I actually found myself feeling bad that the thieves got caught (but of course they did, or there wouldn't be a book about how they did it).
Ken Eveleigh
Feb 03, 2010 Ken Eveleigh rated it really liked it
Excellent story of the planning and execution of the "crime of the century". Reconstructed through personal interviews, trial transcripts and extensive survey of the police evidence. A real life "Ocean's Eleven".
Greg Pallett
Aug 01, 2013 Greg Pallett rated it really liked it
If you enjoyed Oceans 11, any of the punk panther movies or The Heist, you out to give this book a read. It's the story of one of (if not the largest) diamond/jewelry/money theft in history.
Somnath Banerjee
Mar 27, 2017 Somnath Banerjee rated it really liked it
This is a very interesting narrative of one of the most daring crime that ever too place, a diamond heist in early 2000. First the book gives a good background of the diamond industry, various operations involved in diamond mining to production and marketing -- which sets the stage for an informed reading. Although I visited Belgium myself, I never knew that Antwarp is the main center of diamond business, having the so-called "Diamond District" -- which was eventually targeted by a very smart gr ...more
Feb 26, 2017 Jilla rated it really liked it
I got this eBook free via Barnes & Noble on Facebook! It's a good read so far -- has the feel of Ocean's 11, except it's a true story. I'm learning a lot of things that I didn't know about the Antwerp diamond district -- which I didn't even know existed.
Corey Sanders
Jun 02, 2017 Corey Sanders rated it liked it
Shelves: audio
The first half of the book is really good. After the heist gets pulled, the rest kind of fell flat for me. Interesting info about the diamond industry, but somewhat forgettable in the end.
May 10, 2017 Sharon rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime
Had never known anything about the heist or the diamond industry, so it was very interesting!
Feb 27, 2011 Converse rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, crime

The largest diamond theft so far occured in Antwerp, Belgium in February 2003. Antwerp is the center of the international diamond trade, in the sense that mined diamonds, their price controlled by the de Beers monopoly, end up in Antwerp to be traded amongst the firms in the industry and also in the sense that much of the polishing, cutting, and quality grading of the diamonds occurs there. The target of the theft was the vault of the Diamond Center. The Diamond Center is a large office complex

Jun 03, 2012 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The subtitle for the book pretty much sums up the topic: “Inside the Largest Diamond Heist In History.” The description from Amazon does a pretty good job of giving you an overview of the details so I don’t have to:

On February 15, 2003, a group of thieves broke into an allegedly airtight vault in the international diamond capital of Antwerp, Belgium and made off with over $108 million dollars worth of diamonds and other valuables. They did so without tripping an alarm or injuring
Mar 06, 2017 Cindy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of the largest diamond heist in history. A group of Italian thieves spent two years(!) planning their robbery of the safe deposit boxes in the vault in The Diamond Center in Antwerp. Two years is a long time - but they got away with well over $100 million in diamonds, cash, and other jewelry. They left a few loose ends, though...
Charles Morgan
May 21, 2014 Charles Morgan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone wanting a page turner & thriller
Recommended to Charles by: No one
Awesome x 10!! Simply amazing how methodically planned this heist was. Also shows how the depth of human will can go towards any goal: however illegal. I do not condone or idolize these crooks; Quite the opposite. Nor do I detest them because, well, a large percentage of the loot they stole would have never been reported to taxing agencies and traded "under the table". This is not Madoff gaining the trust of trusting, elderly folks and conning them out of their life savings. In fact, the people ...more
May 19, 2014 Mike rated it really liked it
In "Where the Money Is", reviewed previously on this list, author and former FBI bank robbery expert differentiated between stickups and capers. The planning and elegance that went into the 2003 robbery in the Antwerp Diamond Square Mile is among the greatest capers in history, and likely had the largest haul ever - approximated at the high end at €400 million. The authors painstakingly sifted thru the evidence and talked to all the players (save the thieves themselves) to tell the story in full ...more
Apr 07, 2010 Tony rated it really liked it
I'm not particularly a fan of the "true crime" genre, but I do like crime fiction and every so often, something from the nonfiction side catches my eye and I am intrigued enough to pick it up. And as someone who always enjoys a good heist movie, I couldn't resist this book about the biggest heist in history (a crime I'd not previously heard of). The book and heist revolve around Leonardo Notarbartolo, a small-time Turinese jeweler/thief, who does the fieldwork in Antwerp that allows a loose affi ...more
Jul 30, 2015 Linden rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Adult readers

This non-fiction account of the 2003 break-in at the Antwerp Diamond Center is a class act. In every area it is strong, has the best kind of reporting, and is arranged in the shape of a novel.

The robbers from Italy who came to be called "The School of Turin" spent two years on research and planning, the manufacture of assistive devices, and scrupulous observation and troubleshooting. As planned, there was no violence. It likely involved seven men, only four of whom were discovered. It also invol
Dec 26, 2015 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Secretly, I grew up kind of wanting to be Alexander Mundy. He was the cat burglar turned spy-thief for the Secret Intelligence Agency of the US government in the late 60s television series It Takes a Thief. The show was inspired by the Hitchcock film To Catch a Thief (1955) starring Cary Grant, and on the flipside, while not acknowledged, is probably in the background of things like the late 2000s show White Collar, and certainly has some influences from the life of Frank Abagnale, whose life th ...more
Dec 10, 2012 Ru rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A granular examination of a remarkable heist in Belgium that made headlines worldwide as "the crime of the century," at one point. Scott Selby and Greg Campbell has put together a pretty fascinating look at a case that received a lot of coverage, not simply because of the vast fortune that was taken, but because of the relative ease by which it was done. As much as the author doesn't intend on painting this crime as a Hollywood caper, the players involved clearly had such aspirations and embelli ...more
Apr 21, 2010 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, true, crime
From my blog...[return][return][return]Flawless is a fast-paced, insightful look into the world's largest diamond heist in history. Through extensive research and interviews, the authors put together the story of how the Diamond District, know as the Diamond Square Mile, as heavily fortified as Fort Knox and known worldwide as one of the most secured miles in the world, could not only be robbed, but done without tripping one alarm or injuring a single person. The authors weave together the histo ...more
Apr 08, 2010 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Flawless This book was very fascinating read for the largest diamond heist in history. It begins in 2003 where a group of men robbed one of the most ultra-secure vaults in the diamond district in Antwerp, but was it really? You know from the very beginning of the book that at least one thief was apprehended, but you don't find out the fate of the others till closer to the end. Along the way you learn a great deal about diamonds and the diamond trade, along with safes, locks, vaults, security mea ...more
Apr 07, 2010 Lydia rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
This is a meticulously written book about a meticulously planned robbery. The scene of the crime is Antwerp's diamond exchange. The group that pulled off the stunning heist is called the School of Turin, a band of Italian master thieves. The authors were able to methodically piece together how this gang of four and, maybe more, were able to penetrate the exchange's security system -- a system that many thought was impenetrable -- by making themselves a part of the diamond exchange community.

Mar 08, 2010 Charles rated it really liked it
A cracking good read. One might even call it a safe-cracking good read (har har!). Even though half the book is set up, casing the Diamond Center in Antwerp and planning meetings in Turin, the pace never slows. The experience of reading this book reminded me of when I read The Great Train Robbery many years back. Some people call these books "page turners."

At one point the authors get to talking about how high end thieves view themselves. Not white collar criminals with computers but people who
Mar 01, 2010 Debbie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, suspense
"Flawless" is an exciting and interesting true crime book. I love the eye-catching cover--the diamonds on the cover are iridescent.

The first part of the book set up the crime: who the criminals were, what their personalities were like, and the previous crimes they'd committed. It also explained the technology the criminals had to overcome, and a bit about how diamonds are processed (from digging them from the ground to selling the finished stones in the Diamond District) and how they've been sto
Nov 30, 2013 Matt rated it it was ok
I would have chosen 2.5 stars for this if possible.

Although the book is well written, the most incredible thing about the heist is the lax security measures at the Diamond Center in Antwerp. The perpetrators use hair spray, duct tape, and a piece of styrofoam to bypass the multi-million dollar security. And then they foolishly throw the contents of the crime bags (which included small emeralds and currency) on the side of the highway! Two years of planning and that's the best they could come up
Doug Beatty
Apr 26, 2010 Doug Beatty rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime
This true crime book could be the plot for Ocean's 11 or Mission impossible, and in fact the author mentions that the film rights have been sold for a version of this story, but probably not the true one.

It follows Leonardo Notarbartolo, who manages to rent an office at the Diamond Center in the Antwerp Diamond district and begins his surveillance of the building. He belongs to a group of criminals from Turin Italy, known as the School of Turin, and they follow a strict code of conduct. The per
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I'm a graduate of UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School. I also have a master’s degree in Human Rights and Intellectual Property Law from Sweden’s Lund University, where I wrote his thesis on diamonds. I am licensed to practice law in California and New York.
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