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Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History

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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  1,050 ratings  ·  168 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

...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by Union Square Press (first published 2010)
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Priceless by Robert K. WittmanFlawless by Scott Andrew SelbyBallad of the Whiskey Robber by Julian RubinsteinThe Man Who Robbed the Pierre by Ira BerkowThe 10,000,000 Dollar Getaway by Doug Feiden
True-Crime Heists
1st out of 8 books — 4 voters
Catch Me If You Can by Frank W. AbagnaleNewton and the Counterfeiter by Thomas LevensonThe Cuckoo's Egg by Clifford StollProvenance by Laney SalisburyThe Man Who Robbed the Pierre by Ira Berkow
True-Crime: Lost, Stolen, or Conned
9th out of 21 books — 7 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,179)
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Lisa
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.
Jacob
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...more
Elisha Condie
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...more
Bridget
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
Charles Morgan
May 21, 2014 Charles Morgan rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Mike
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
Bridget
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).
Lori Paximadis
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.
Ken Eveleigh
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
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.
Brad McKenna
An interesting account of the biggest jewel heist in history. Though it got a little too deep into the specifics of the diamond trade and vault mechanics, the parts of the story that flowed like a narrative were good. In fact I had to go and watch Ocean's 11 because it reminded me so much of that story.

A couple of tidbits I gained from the book were the judicial system in Belgium is more concerned with closing cases fast than fully solving them and the De Beers company should be ashamed of itse...more
Heidi Willis
I listened to the audio version of this book, so that may have colored how much I loved it, but I found this book totally fascinating. I didn't know anything about this particular diamond heist, even though it took place only a few years ago. I didn't know anything about the diamond industry, period. This was a fantastic and engrossing immersion into both.

Like Devil in the White City, this non-fiction takes a somewhat novelistic approach, reading like a story with plot and characters and conflic...more
Debbie
"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...more
Jennifer
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
Valerie
The first two or three times I put this book on reserve at my library, it came in at a time when I didn't have time to read it because of school. When I did finally got a chance to read it, I was afraid the reality would not measure up to my anticipation of it. Thankfully, it was everything I anticipated and more!

I really enjoyed reading this book and reading about all the ingenious ideas and gadgets these men came up with in order to thwart the various security measures of the diamond vault in...more
Ru
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
Whitney
Being largest diamond heist in history- really, one of the largest heists ever, this book is inherently interesting. It answers the burning questions like, how did they do it? Did they get caught? Although we don't really know exactly how they did it (nobody talked), the fast paced action of this book takes you through the process and gives you a taste of the excitement that the thieves must have been feeling as they went through it.

At 230ish pages, it is pretty fast paced. Lots of nonfiction l...more
Lydia
Jun 23, 2010 Lydia rated it 4 of 5 stars
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.

The...more
Karen
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
Taryn
I've been debating how to review this book, because it's the first true crime nonfiction I've read. Would I recommend it to a friend? Would I read it again? It doesn't fit into my usual categories.

But I'll review it the same way I review all the other books on Goodreads: reviewed so I can remember it for myself and possibly make sense to others as well.

I liked it. One of my pet peeves about fiction is when an author has so obviously researched something they were excited about (i.e., tall ships...more
Jennifer
BOOK DESCRIPTION
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...more
Converse

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

...more
Carin
It's rare that a true story, even of a crime, could be so exciting. Normally these kinds of books get bogged down in the details. Flawless does not. Which is not to say that they skip the details, but the details enhance rather than obscure the plot.

A group of Italians spent 2 years extensively plotting and researching an audacious theft of safety deposit boxes in Antwerp, Belgium in the Diamond District. More diamonds flow through Antwerp than anywhere else in the world. The main person we foll...more
Mattkelly
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...more
Doug Beatty
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...more
Charles
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...more
Tony
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
Dave Gaston
Selby documents a stunning multimillion dollar jewel heist in the middle of Antwerp’s high security diamond capital. The midnight theft was the real “Crime Of The Century.” Despite the sensation of the subject, Selby’s straight-forward writing was flat and stuffed with stiff descriptions like, “...an apparent victim of foul play.” Question: Who writes like that? Answer: A B-Level Crime TV Script Writer. Criticism aside, there is a special place in my heart for True Crime. The details of the gang...more
Dave
I am a sucker for all of the Ocean's 11 style movies that have the intelligent gentlemen thieves. The book tells of a diamond heist where life seems to have imitated art, where men from the 'School of Turin' made off with perhaps 1/2 a billion dollars from what appeared to be an absolutely impenetrable vault. Also of interest to me was Antwerp Diamond Center's almost total reliance on technology for security as a kind of parable for our times.

The subject matter is right up my alley, the writing...more
Jenny
While I found Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History a bit slow going for the first 50 pages or so, once the aforementioned heist gets underway (this is nonfiction), it quickly becomes a page turner. While it is never a secret that the criminals managed to pull off the biggest robbery in history, making off with well over 100 million dollars worth of diamonds, gold, jewelry and cash, how they might have done it and where they hid the goods makes up the intervening pages. Given tha...more
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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.
More about Scott Andrew Selby...
A Serial Killer in Nazi Berlin: The Chilling True Story of the S-Bahn Murderer The Axmann Conspiracy: The Nazi Plan for a Fourth Reich and How the U.S. Army Defeated It Lupenrein: Die wahre Geschichte des größten Diamantenraubes aller Zeiten (German Edition)

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