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Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History

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3.87  ·  Rating details ·  2,531 ratings  ·  284 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

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Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by Union Square Press
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  2,531 ratings  ·  284 reviews


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Jill Hutchinson
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-crime
This book could have had an alternate title called "Brilliant" as it certainly falls into that category. In 2003, the largest diamond heist in history occurred and the author delights the reader with the step-by-step preparation and execution of the amazing robbery.

Antwerp, Belgium is the diamond capital of the world and through the ultra secure Diamond District, millions upon million of dollars worth of gems (80% of the world's available supply) pass daily. The electronic and men-on-the-ground
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Alex Givant
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2019, audio, crime
Excellent account on Antwerp diamont heist. I always amazed how much efforts and thinking criminals put in some high-value heists. Interesting facts about diamond industry too! ...more
Carlos
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 starts for this one . What makes this book a good one is the fact that this actually happened, a group of people robbed the diamond center in Antwerp and made out with almost 500000 $ in diamonds and fleeing currency, 4 people were accused and went to trial , they never talked...even until now there is no clarity as to how it happened but this book tries to answer those question...this book feels like a movie and better than one at the same time . Highly recommend it if you are looking for a ...more
Lewis Weinstein
a fascinating story ... an incredible plan methodically prepared and executed ... one critical mistake ... and the loot was never recovered ...
Lisa
Feb 17, 2010 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. ...more
Yibbie
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: random-stuff
For a book about a fabulous diamond heist, I found large sections rather boring. It was informative almost exhaustively so. For example, I can understand why you need to understand the recent political and social history of Turin. Without that, it would never make sense why it was the headquarters for the gang. But did it really have to start with Hannibal? That was how just about every topic introduced is handled whether it’s locks, the Diamond Center, or characters. So I learned a lot, but it ...more
Whitney
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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Vicky Hunt
High Tech Security Rendered Worthless with Hairspray, Electrical Tape, and Styrofoam

Whether family heirlooms, personal investments, corporate diamond industry products, blood diamonds, war/ conflict diamonds, or just black diamonds in general... diamonds represent a highly valued method of portable and exchangeable wealth that is not dependent on currency or political stability. The diamond district in Belgium sees much of the diamond traffic that circulates the globe. This book follows the deta
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Jacob
Aug 16, 2013 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
...more
Fred Hughes
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a fairly detailed account of the world's largest diamond heist.

The thieves made a couple of minor mistakes and were caught and served their time.

But the diamonds were never recovered

Fun book
...more
Suzanne
Mar 02, 2017 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
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Tessa
This was an interesting book to listen to. It goes into great detail about the heist and how it was perpetrated, and is very concise on which parts are factual and which are guesses. I also found the background information about the diamond industry surprisingly interesting; I knew very little about it, so this part of the book was actually quite educational for me.

Recommended for fans of
The Great Pearl Heist: London's Greatest Thief and Scotland Yard's Hunt for the World's Most Valuable Neckl
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Joyce
I'm a fan of capers and this is a good non-fiction one. Generally I prefer film capers, as there's often too much detail which slows the pace in writing. Here the backstory is fascinating enough--the biographies of the thieves, the story of the diamond industry, Antwerp, and the theft-to hold my interest. There's not a sense of breathless anticipation as the theft details are revealed but a real sense of following an investigation with myriad facts, hypotheses, and characters. Well-researched an ...more
Cheryl Hager
if not for the BR reading challenge, I would have never considered this book, or any true crime book, for that matter. I tried to remember where and what I was doing when all this hit the news in 2003...I don't remember any of it. Just think, if these guys, and others like them, put this same effort into something productive and law-abiding, the world would be less of a sesspool. ...more
JRay
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommend
Fascinating true story about the largest diamond heist in history. An easy and enjoyable read!
Ethan
Jan 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History details the 2003 Antwerp diamond heist, the largest objective heist in history. (Objective meaning the value of stolen goods is accurate. Stolen artwork's value is difficult to quantify.) While the heist itself comprises most of the book, the authors discuss culture and industry information as needed.

The book is organized in rough chronological order. It begins with a detailed history of the Italian city Turin, where all of the thieves involv
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Rob
Jul 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Fascinating look at an epic heist. Read like a movie.
Elisha Condie
Nov 21, 2011 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
...more
I
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is perhaps one of my favorite books of all time. It's an entirely new experience to get in the head of a master criminal and see all the tactics they are willing to employ for one heist. Working in the office above the safes for half a decade so no one suspects him as a suspicious characer, using hairspray, masking tape and a piece of styrofoam to take out one of the best security systems in the country, and the one fatal flaw the gang made in their getaway that led to their eventual arrest ...more
Somnath Banerjee
Mar 27, 2017 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
Michael O'Neill
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
Fair to middlin'. What I thought was going to be an exciting thriller, advertised as "the largest diamond heist in history", was rather flat both in the story and in the telling. The details of the planning and the heist itself were described as if our "school of Turin" was a crew of plumbers off to replace the fixtures in a customer's bathroom. And to have the apparently successful heist come undone within twenty-four hours because the masterminds were careless about their trash was disappointi ...more
Bridget
Mar 09, 2010 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
Jay Rain
May 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Rating - 8.2

Having never read a crime scene re-enactment before, the genre works quite well & the details of the heist were interesting (also respecting where the authors indicate speculation versus known facts)

To spend two years casing the Diamond Centre so diligently & then to lose it all to the garbage in the forest smells like a set-up; Five years for $500MM seems worth it & is scintillating dinner conversation


C.A.
Aug 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Turns out, real life theft isn't as slick as it is in Oceans Eleven, but is as interesting. Telling the story of the history of diamond trading as well as the modern diamond industry as well as the theft, and the hunt that lead to the arrest of four of the thieves. The heist took two years to plan and one mistake to get caught. ...more
Ken Eveleigh
Feb 03, 2010 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". ...more
Lori Paximadis
Feb 17, 2010 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. ...more
Bridget
Apr 17, 2010 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). ...more
Greg Pallett
Aug 01, 2013 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. ...more
Claudia
Nov 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
On February 15, 2003, a group of Italian thieves broke into a vault in a sub-basement of the Antwerp Diamond Center, part of the ultra-secure Diamond District. When the theft was discovered two days later, 109 of the 189 deposit boxes had been broken into. The floor was covered with discarded gemstones, pearls, diamond papers, bags and sacks of many kinds as well as any jewelry or items that could be easily identified and difficult to fence.

The book starts when Leonardo Notarbartolo rented an of
...more
Kerstyn
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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

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