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5 Giant Diamond Heists

5 Giant Diamond Heists

February 2003: Antwerp Diamond Center
Last week, as Monday’s robbers prepared to storm the jewel-laden plane, exactly 10 years had passed since Belgium fell victim to another giant diamond theft. On February 16, 2003, years of planning culminated in a break-in at the Antwerp Diamond Center, where burglars relieved 100 safe deposit boxes of their diamonds, gold and jewelry. Along with $100 million in precious goods, the thieves also managed to steal footage from the building’s security cameras, making it impossible for investigators to identify them. Before long, however, bags of trash they left along the highway during their escape led police to Leonardo Notarbartolo, an Italian criminal who’d been posing as a diamond merchant in order to case the joint. Convicted of orchestrating the heist, Notarbartolo served 10 years in prison before being released on parole, but the plunder he and his accomplices stole has never been found.

August 2009: Graff Diamonds
On August 6, 2009, makeup artists became unwitting accomplices to Britain’s biggest gem raid when they aged two men by 30 years with the help of latex prosthetics and wigs. The pair of disguised thieves strolled into London’s Graff Diamonds, flashed their guns and forced employees to hand over 43 pieces of jewelry worth $65 million. They then drove off in a series of getaway cars, shooting and missing a security guard in the process. A cell phone found in one of the vehicles helped police identify the gang of criminals behind the robbery, and several of the men are now doing time. None of the lost baubles have turned up.

August 1994: Carlton Hotel
Right before workers closed up shop on the evening of August 11, 1994, three masked men wielding machine guns forced their way into the jewelry store within the Carlton Hotel in Cannes, France. Shooting their weapons in the air as employees and customers scattered, they gathered nearly $60 million worth of jewelry before making their getaway. Investigators later discovered that no bullet holes had been made, meaning that the crooks were firing blanks when they pulled off the dramatic heist. The thieves and their precious booty remain at large to this day.

December 2008: Harry Winston
When three well-dressed women sauntered into the Harry Winston jewelry store on Paris’ ritzy Avenue Montaigne on December 4, 2008, employees thought nothing of it. That changed when the seemingly ordinary customers—who turned out to be male thieves in disguise—pulled out handguns, attacked several clerks and collected $108 million worth of jewelry and watches. The robbers then calmly strolled out and drove off. Police think the heist was the work of the so-called Pink Panthers, an international gang of criminals run by masterminds from the former Yugoslavia that’s been implicated in other jewel thefts in Europe, Asia and the United States.

February 2005: Schipol Airport
Monday wasn’t the first time diamond thieves seized their plunder on the tarmac of a European airport. At Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport on February 25, 2005, four men in a stolen KLM cargo vehicle ambushed an armored truck carrying jewels bound for Antwerp’s diamond district. Brandishing guns, they forced out the drivers before speeding away. Since many of the gems they filched were still uncut, it’s unclear how much the booty was worth—though some estimates have put the figure as high as $118 million. That would make the Schipol crime, which remains unsolved, the largest diamond heist in history.

The Great Diamond Hoax of 1872

The rush for gold that began in California in 1848 and for silver in Nevada in 1859 filled the West with people hooked on the Next Big Thing. From grubby prospectors washing dirt in a thousand Western streams to bankers and speculators in San Francisco, New York and London, everyone, it seems, embraced the idea that the West’s mountains and riverbeds held an abundance of mineral wealth there for the taking.

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An announcement in the Tucson Weekly Arizonian in April of 1870 catches the mood of the moment: “We have found it! The greatest treasures ever discovered on the continent, and doubtless the greatest treasures ever witnessed by the eyes of man.” Located in the PyramidMountains of New Mexico, the “it” was a new mine dubbed the Mountains of Silver. Bankers hurried in, miners claimed stakes, investors sought capital in distant cities and surveyors laid out a town nearby. But in the end, the much-touted venture did not yield enough of the stuff for a single belt buckle.

At about the same time came news of a diamond rush in South Africa, the third major diamond find known to the world after one near the city of Golconda, India, and an 18thcentury site discovered by the Portuguese in Brazil. Stoked by the tall tales of early 19th-century trapper-guides like Jim Bridger and Kit Carson about diamonds, rubies and other gems that could be scooped right off the ground, avaricious dreamers were soon looking for precious stones in Arizona and New Mexico, where the terrain was said to resemble South Africa’s. An odd diamond or two had actually turned up during the gold rush, especially near Placerville, California. In a report on the phenomenon, a state geologist helpfully recommended that “though it may not pay to hunt for diamonds, yet it always pays to pick them up when you do happen to see them.”

And so the stage was set for the Great Diamond Hoax, a brilliantly acted scam by two Kentucky grifters that would embroil, among others, some of California’s biggest bankers and businessmen, a former commander of the Union Army, a U.S. representative, leading lawyers on both coasts, and the founder of Tiffany & Co. Accurately described by the San Francisco Chronicle in 1872 as “the most gigantic and barefaced swindle of the age,” the scheme was also noteworthy for the manner of its unraveling and its colorful characters. Not only did it propel to prominence a geologist later befriended and admired by Theodore Roosevelt, it also gave a fed-up American public some hope that honest science could triumph, at least occasionally, over hucksterism and greed.

Swelled by the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, the San Francisco of 1870 was a city of some 150,000 souls. One of them was Philip Arnold, a Kentuckian born in the same county as Abraham Lincoln. Apoorly educated former hatter’s apprentice, Mexican War veteran and gold rush forty-niner, Arnold had spent two decades working in mining operations in the West, making enough money to pay for periodic visits back to Kentucky, where he bought a farm, married, started a family and perhaps stashed a little cash. In 1870, he was working as an assistant bookkeeper for the Diamond Drill Co., a San Francisco drill maker that used diamond-headed bits. For a bookkeeper, Arnold, then just past 40, showed a surprising interest in the industrial-grade diamonds that kept the drills running. He even plowed through learned works on the subject.

By November of that year, Arnold had acquired a bag of uncut diamonds, presumably taken from his employer, and mixed them with garnets, rubies and sapphires that he likely bought from Indians in Arizona. He also had acquired a partner, John Slack, an aptly named older cousin from Kentucky who, like Arnold, had fought in the Mexican War and had gone after gold in 1849. Indeed, in the months ahead, as the two men hatched their scheme, Slack played the listless, taciturn foil to the voluble and cunning Arnold.

The first person the pair approached was George D. Roberts, the sort of businessman described in newspapers as prominent, but his was a prominence earned by moving fast and not asking too many questions. Arnold and Slack turned up one night at Roberts’ San Francisco office, looking weather-beaten and clutching a small leather bag. Inside was something of great value, they said, which they would have deposited in the Bank of California except for the late hour. The two men feigned a reluctance to talk about what was in the sack until Arnold allowed himself to let slip the words “rough diamonds.” But Arnold and Slack were more circumspect about where they’d found the jewels, mumbling something about Indian territory, an answer that carried a certain truth, but not in the way Roberts took it.

The bag of diamonds sank the hook deep. “Roberts was very much elated by our discovery,” Arnold told the LouisvilleCourier-Journal in December 1872, soon after their scheme had been exposed, “and promised Slack and myself to keep it a profound secret until we could explore the country further and ascertain more fully the extent of our discoveries.” Like many able liars, Arnold had an intuitive sense of how others would react to his fictions. What better way to get Roberts to spread the word than to make him swear an oath of silence?

Almost before his office door banged shut behind the two miners, Roberts broke his promise. First he told the founder of the Bank of California, William C. Ralston, a legendary financier who built hotels and mills and invested in almost everything else, including the Comstock Lode and the completion of the transcontinental railroad when the s0-called Big Four—Collis Huntington, Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins and Charles Crocker—came up a little short. The banker had also put money into the Mountains of Silver venture, and in return, the nearby town of Grant had been courteously restyled Ralston, New Mexico. Then Roberts got word to the theatrically named Asbury Harpending, who was in London trying to float a stock offering for the Mountains of Silver. Harpending swallowed the bait as hungrily as Roberts had. As Harpending, an even shadier businessman than Roberts, recalled 45 years later in The Great Diamond Hoax and Other Stirring Incidents in the Life of Asbury Harpending, his colorful and mendaciously self-serving memoir, he knew that “they had got something that would astonish the world.” He made his way to San Francisco “as fast as steamships and railroads would carry us,” arriving back home in May 1871.

In the meantime, Arnold and Slack led Roberts to believe that they had made another visit to the diamond field and had returned with 60 pounds of diamonds and rubies said to be worth $600,000. More convinced than ever, Roberts drew others into the trap with this second, bigger bag of jewels, which he claimed a local jeweler had authenticated. Roberts, Ralston, Harpending and now San Francisco mining entrepreneurs William Lent and Gen. George S. Dodge wanted to get Arnold and Slack out of the picture as soon as possible by buying out their interests. At first, the two prospectors appeared to resist a quick payday. But then Slack asked for $100,000 for his share—$50,000 now and $50,000 after the two made what they claimed would be a third visit to the diamond field.

Once Slack got his first 50 grand, he and Arnold headed off to England to buy uncut gems. In July 1871, under assumed names—Arnold was Aundel and Slack used his middle name, Burcham—they bought $20,000 worth of rough diamonds and rubies, thousands of stones in all, from a London diamond merchant named Leopold Keller. “I asked them where they were going to have the diamonds cut,” Keller later testified in a London court, but of course they never intended to cut the stones. Some would go to San Francisco as further evidence of the richness of their find. Others would be planted in the still secret field for their investors to discover.

Upon the pair’s return to San Francisco in the summer of 1871, Arnold and Slack offered to make one more trip to the diamond field, promising to return with “a couple of million dollars’ worth of stones,” which they would allow the businessmen to hold as a guarantee of their investment. Off the pair went, to salt the fields rather than mine them, and when that was done, Harpending met their train at Lathrop, California, a junction east of San Francisco. Harpending would later write of the encounter: “Both were travel stained and weather beaten and had the general appearance of having gone through much hardship and privation.” Slack was asleep but “Arnold sat grimly erect like a vigilant old soldier with a rifle by his side, also a bulky looking buckskin package.” The two claimed that they had indeed happened upon a spot yielding the promised $2 million worth of diamonds, which, they said, they had divided into two packs. But while crossing a river in a raft they had built, one pack was lost, leaving only the one Harpending now observed.

At Oakland, the swindlers handed the pack to Harpending, who gave them a receipt for it and carried it onto the ferry to cross the bay. “Arrived at San Francisco, my carriage was waiting and drove me swiftly to my home,” where the other investors were waiting, he wrote. “We did not waste time on ceremonies. Asheet was spread on my billiard table I cut the elaborate fastenings of the sack and, taking hold of the lower corners, dumped the contents. It seemed,” Harpending wrote, “like a dazzling, many-colored cataract of light.”

As bedazzled as they may have been, Ralston and the others were not complete fools. Before risking more money, they decided to bring 10 percent of the latest bag of gems to jeweler Charles Lewis Tiffany in New York City for appraisal and to hire a mining engineer to check out the diamond field. They also allowed a generous sampling of the stones to go on display in the window of San Francisco jeweler William Willis, feeding the city’s diamond fever—and potentially increasing the value of their future investments.

In New York City, Harpending, Lent and Dodge hired a corporate lawyer, Samuel Barlow, a Ralston friend, to handle their interests in the East. Sometime in October 1871, the group met at Barlow’s house on the corner of 23 rd Street and Madison Avenue for the appraisal. Joining them were Charles Lewis Tiffany and two Civil War generals: George B. McClellan, who had commanded the Union Army and run against Lincoln for president, and Benjamin F. Butler, nicknamed Beast for his treatment of civilians in New Orleans during the war. McClellan was recruited to the venture in the hope that his name might attract other investors, and Barlow recommended Butler—by then a U.S. representative—as someone to help resolve any legal issues in Congress if the diamond field was revealed to be on federal land. Also present was Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune (who was about to run for president himself), though his exact role is unknown.

Imagine the theatrical flourish with which Harpending must have opened the bag of diamonds before this august assemblage. Tiffany fussily sorted the stones, which also included some rubies, emeralds and sapphires, “viewed them gravely,” Harpending writes, and “held them up to the light, looking every whit the part of a great connoisseur.” Once he finished his inspection, he delivered a preliminary verdict. “Gentlemen, these are beyond question precious stones of enormous value.” How valuable he could not say until he had taken them back to the shop and let his lapidary have a look. Two days later he reported that the stones—only a fraction of those that Arnold and Slack had bought in London for $20,000—were worth $150,000. Harpending did a little multiplication and concluded that Arnold’s million-dollar sack must be worth at least $1.5 million.

When word of the appraisal reached him, Arnold could not believe his luck. His little scheme now carried the imprimatur of the country’s most famous jeweler. (After the hoax had been revealed, it came out that neither Tiffany nor his lapidary had much experience with uncut stones.) Arnold quickly extracted another $100,000 from the investors and scurried back to London, where he spent $8,000 on more uncut gems from Leopold Keller, the better to further prepare the bogus diamond field for Henry Janin, a well-respected mining engineer selected by the San Francisco investors.

Because of cold weather, Janin did not visit the fields until June. Arnold and Slack, who by then had been paid his second $50,000, met Janin, Dodge, Harpending and an English crony of Harpending’s named Alfred Rubery in St. Louis, where the group boarded a Union Pacific train to Rawlins, Wyoming. Though the spot that Arnold had picked to salt was closer to the Black Buttes, Wyoming, station, the swindler wanted to keep the exact location secret, so he led them on a confusing four-day horseback journey, often pretending to be lost and climbing hills to get his bearings. Harpending noted that “the party became cross and quarrelsome.” The six men finally reached the salted mesa at about four o’clock on the afternoon of June 4, 1872, and began at once to look for diamonds. Like a mother at a backyard Easter egg hunt, Arnold was extraordinarily solicitous in suggesting where they might dig. “After a few minutes,” Harpending would write, “Rubery gave a yell. He held up something glittering in his hand. . . . For more than an hour, diamonds were being found in profusion, together with occasional rubies, emeralds and sapphires. Why a few pearls weren’t thrown in for good luck I have never yet been able to tell. Probably it was an oversight.”

Within two days, even the mining engineer Janin, who in addition to his $2,500 fee had been given the right to purchase 1,000 shares of stock in the new venture at $10 a share, was, as Harpending later recalled, “wildly enthusiastic.” On the chance that the surrounding land might also yield gems, Janin got busy staking out 3,000 acres, although the area salted with diamonds amounted to barely more than one acre. In his concluding report Janin wrote that the proposed 100,000 shares of stock were easily worth $40 each, and he would soon thereafter sell his shares at that price, netting $30,000 above his fee and becoming the only nonswindler to profit from the scam. When the rest of the party finished up at the mesa, they left Slack and Rubery behind to guard the site. But the two men did not like each other, and within a couple of days they took off.

Slack was never to be heard from again. Arnold collected another $150,000 that had been promised him after the Janin inspection and then quickly sold $300,000 more in stock to Harpending, making his total take $550,000, less expenses—about $8 million today. He had more shares coming to him, but he must have sensed that his luck would only take him so far. He had already moved his family back to Kentucky from San Francisco in the spring of 1872, and by the time the affair was exposed, he, too, had left town.

What finally led to the hoax’s collapse was a lucky encounter on an Oakland-bound train between Janin and members of a government survey team led by Clarence King, a Yale-educated geologist. One of a special breed of explorerscientists drawn to the trackless expanse west of the 100 th meridian and east of the Sierra Nevada, King had come West in 1863 at the age of 21, traveling by wagon train with a friend and joining the California Geological Survey. He was the first man known to have ascended several of the highest Sierra Nevada peaks, and he gave Mount Whitney its name (after Josiah D. Whitney, leader of the California survey) another mountain in the southern Sierra would be named after him. At the age of 25, King convinced the U.S. Congress to fund and appoint him geologist in charge of his own federal survey, which would cover 80,000 square miles of mostly inhospitable land between the Rockies and the Sierra—an 800-mile-long rectangle that followed the route of the transcontinental railway in a swath 100 miles wide. By the early 1870s, King or the three dozen men under his command had surveyed, mapped and described the whole immense patch of the West within their domain, and the fieldwork for what was known as the Fortieth Parallel Survey was nearly done.

In his diary for October 6, 1872, one of King’s men, geologist Samuel F. Emmons, wrote that “suspicious looking characters on the train are returning diamond hunters. Henry [Janin] shows us some of the diamonds—pretty crystals.” King and his team had hardly been ignorant of the rising diamond fever, but most of the rumored discoveries had been in Arizona and New Mexico, outside the survey’s purview. Now Janin’s comments and other hints suggested that the spot was in the northwest corner of Colorado, not far from where Emmons had been working. The news was alarming. Amajor discovery of diamonds in the area by anyone other than King’s men would call into question the thoroughness of their work and give ammunition to those in Congress who fought the survey’s annual appropriations.

King and his men decided that they had better inspect the diamond fields as soon as possible. On October 21, 1872, Emmons and A. D. Wilson, a topographer on King’s team, got on a train from Oakland east to Fort Bridger, Wyoming, where they had boarded some mules for the winter. King followed the next day.

A week and a half later, having gathered supplies at the fort, King, Emmons, Wilson and two packers set off on what would become a bitterly cold 150-mile journey to the vicinity of Janin’s site, which they had deduced from their own fieldwork and other clues. After five days of hard travel, they set up camp and immediately began looking around. Before long they saw a claim notice posted by Janin. According to Emmons’ field notes, they followed other posted notices until they “came upon a bare iron-stained bit of coarse sandstone rock about a hundred feet long. . . . Throwing down our bridle reins we began examining the rock on our hands and knees, and in another instant I had found a small ruby. This was indeed the spot. The diamond fever had now attacked us with vigor, and while daylight lasted we continued in this position picking up precious stones. . . . And when a diamond was found it was quite a time before our benumbed fingers could succeed in grasping the tiny stone.” When they went to bed that night, they “dreamed,” Emmons wrote, “of the untold wealth that might be gathered.”

But the next day, King noticed that wherever he found a diamond, he also found a dozen rubies, too neat a scheme for a natural deposit. The men also realized that the stones were found only in disturbed ground. Rubies found in anthills, for instance, were not only surrounded by footprints but “beside the top hole by which the ants made their exit, there was visible in the side another small break in the crust.” Anthills lacking footprints or broken crusts invariably also lacked rubies. “Our explanation,” Emmons wrote, “was that some one must have pushed in a ruby or two on the end of a stick.” The men spent the next two days doing more tests, which included digging a trench ten feet deep in a gulch where diamonds should have been distributed well below the surface. But there were no diamonds in it.

On their fourth day at the site, King and his men were approached by a man on a horse, “a stout party, city dressed, and looking very much out of keeping with his surroundings.” “Have you found any carats around here?” the stranger asked. One of King’s men blurted out news of the fraud, which the man received with the response: “What a chance to sell short on the stock.” He introduced himself as J. F. Berry, a New York diamond dealer who had followed King’s party from FortBridger and had been watching them with a spyglass from the top of a nearby butte.

In camp that evening, King decided, as he later wrote to his boss in Washington, “to go at once to San Francisco, and find out the status of the Company, and prevent if possible further transactions in the stock.” King would also claim that he hurried off to prevent Berry from acting on the knowledge one of his men had blurted out. But it’s even more likely that the self-assured young geologist didn’t want this irritating interloper revealing the fraud before he could. In any event, King and Wilson left camp well before dawn, riding the 45 miles to Black Buttes Station “across a pathless reach of desert and mountain,” arriving in San Francisco on November 10. King went at once to Janin’s hotel. “Through nearly all the night I detailed to him the discovery,” King later wrote, “and at last convinced him of its correctness.”

The next morning King and Janin met the duped directors at Ralston’s office at the Bank of California. There, King read aloud a letter he had written for publication asserting that the diamond fields were “utterly valueless” and that the directors had been the victims of an “unparalleled fraud.” He spelled out the tests his men had made on the site. The investors “were astonished,” King would write, “and thrown into utter consternation.” Emmons later related that one of the directors, no doubt hoping to sell short himself, suggested that King might gain financially if he were to sit on the news for a few days. King supposedly responded: “There is not enough money in the Bank of California to make me delay the publication a single hour.” The board agreed to stop a planned sale of 100,000 shares of stock at $100 a share the directors then persuaded King to lead another party, including Janin and other company representatives, back to the spot. The group set out the next day and, upon arrival, made its inspection in weather so cold that one man’s whiskey was said to have frozen in the bottle. On November 25, inspection party member Gen. David Colton, who had become general manager of the company just three weeks before, reported back to the directors that he had seen rubies scattered on a bare rock, where “it would have been as impossible for Nature to have deposited them as for a person standing in San Francisco to toss a marble in the air and have it fall on Bunker Hill monument.” Upon receiving this and other reports from the latest inspection, along with a lame attempt by Janin to explain his failure to unearth the fraud months before, the directors voted to publish King’s letter and dissolve the company.

The San Francisco Chronicle on November 26 stacked headlines that began with “UNMASKED!” followed by “The Great Diamond Fiasco,” “THE MAMMOTH FRAUD EXPOSED” and “Astounding Revelations.” Because Arnold and Slack had long departed from the scene, reporters focused on the company’s gullible principals. The Chronicle chortled at “how the millionaires were victimized.” Janin the mining engineer was criticized for being so easily duped. Harpending came under suspicion as a perpetrator of the fraud because he was reported to have been in London at the time of one of Arnold’s diamond-buying sprees. General Butler was discovered to have received a thousand shares of stock for shepherding a mining act through Congress that had enabled the company to buy the federal land that held the bogus diamond fields. William Lent claimed in a lawsuit that he lost some $350,000, and it was widely reported that Ralston lost $250,000.

John Slack was assumed to have either fled the country or died soon after leaving the diamond fields with Rubery. But in 1967, Bruce A. Woodard, an accountant who had become obsessed with the hoax, asserted in his book, Diamonds in the Salt, that Slack had taken a job building caskets in St. Louis. Eventually, according to Woodard, Slack moved to White Oaks, New Mexico, where he became an undertaker, living alone until his death at age 76 in 1896. He left behind an estate of $1,600.

In July 1872, according to court papers quoted by Woodard, Philip Arnold bought a two-story brick house in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, and moved his family into it. After acquiring some 500 acres nearby—all of the property was in his wife Mary’s name—he bred horses, sheep and pigs. A grand jury in San Francisco indicted Arnold and Slack for fraud, but the contents of the indictment were never revealed, and Woodard speculates that they were quashed by the investors to avoid further bad publicity. Arnold answered the news of the indictments by telling the Louisville paper that “I have employed counsel myself—a good Henry rifle.” But he eventually did settle out of court with William Lent for $150,000, his only acknowledgment, though tacit, that he had planted any diamonds. In 1873, Arnold became a banker himself by putting an unknown amount of money into an Elizabethtown bank that had temporarily closed its doors. An 1878 quarrel with another banker in town led to a shootout that injured three bystanders. Arnold took a shotgun blast in the shoulder, but was recovering when, six months later, he contracted pneumonia and, at age 49, died. Although he left his family comfortably off, several hundred thousand dollars have never been accounted for.

Even before the Diamond Hoax came to light, California had had more than its fair measure of frauds—from the routine salting of land with gold nuggets during the gold rush to faked reports of oil finds costing investors millions in the 1860s. “I see the Diamond Hoax as one in a long line of scams made possible by the fact that the United States truly was a land of opportunity,” says Patricia O’Toole, author of Money and Morals in America: A History. “Many a legitimate fortune seemed to be made overnight,” she adds, “so it was particularly easy for a con artist to convince a gullible American that he too could wake up a millionaire.” Moreover, as Jackson Lears, a professor of history at RutgersUniversity and the author of Something for Nothing: Luck in America, observes, “The 1870s was the golden age of gambling, due to an expanding post-Civil War frontier economy.” He is hardly surprised that such supposedly sophisticated investors were taken in. “In an unregulated laissez-faire economy,” he says, “licit and illicit risk were difficult to distinguish only after it had turned out well did a speculation become an ‘investment.’ Playing the market could be just as shady an enterprise as running a three-card monte game on a steamboat or organizing a diamond swindle.”

No wonder, then, that press and public alike greeted King’s exposé so gratefully. The Chronicle editorialized that “We have escaped, thanks to GOD and CLARENCE KING, a great financial calamity.” Echoed the San FranciscoBulletin, “Fortunately for the good name of San Francisco and the State, there was one cool-headed man of scientific education who esteemed it his duty to investigate the matter in the only right way.” Many saw the unravelling of the hoax as a welcome case of government acting on behalf of the people. Clarence King, says Lears, “looked forward to the 20th century, when management rather than morality became the chief idiom and technique of control. He was the sort of man (or pretended to be) that we like to think our government regulators can be today—expertly informed, incorruptible, calmly surveying the scuffle of self-interest from an Olympian perspective, one which protects him from the irrational exuberance of the clods who think they’ve struck it rich.”

King’s role in exploding the diamond hoax made him an international celebrity—the case was followed closely in newspapers in London and New York—and he dined out on his deed for the rest of his days. Earlier in 1872, he had published a series of sketches from his time with the California survey, called Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada. The book was a popular success on both sides of the Atlantic, and even today it is considered a classic of American nature writing. He counted among his friends Henry Adams, John Hay and Henry James. In one chapter of The Education of Henry Adams, Adams wrote of King, “None of his contemporaries had done so much, single-handed, or were likely to leave so deep a trail.” Hay called him “the best and brightest man of his generation.”

Upon completion of the fieldwork for his survey in 1872, King returned East where, for the next six years, he oversaw the publication of a multivolume report of the survey’s findings, culminating in his own work, Systematic Geology, published in 1878, which one critic called “the most important single contribution made to the scientific knowledge of the continent.” But even as he was finishing the book and starting a two-year stint as the first director of the United States Geological Survey, King’s attention was turning from one Gilded Age secular religion, science, to the other, the pursuit of money. He tried ranching, mining and, like Philip Arnold, banking, but he didn’t have the knack for any of them. He lost more money than he made, and he lost the money of many of his friends as well, though both Henry Adams and John Hay remained loyal. And when, deep in debt, King died of tuberculosis in a small brick house in Phoenix in 1901, just shy of his 60th birthday, his old friend Theodore Roosevelt sent a wire of condolence from the White House.


A diamond is a solid form of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a crystal structure called diamond cubic. At room temperature and pressure, another solid form of carbon known as graphite is the chemically stable form, but diamond almost never converts to it. Diamond has the highest hardness and thermal conductivity of any natural material, properties that are utilized in major industrial applications such as cutting and polishing tools. They are also the reason that diamond anvil cells can subject materials to pressures found deep in the Earth.

The name diamond is derived from the ancient Greek ἀδάμας (adámas), "proper", "unalterable", "unbreakable", "untamed", from ἀ- (a-), "un-" + δαμάω (damáō), "I overpower", "I tame". [1] Diamonds are thought to have been first recognized and mined in India, where significant alluvial deposits of the stone could be found many centuries ago along the rivers Penner, Krishna and Godavari. Diamonds have been known in India for at least 3,000 years but most likely 6,000 years. [2]

Diamonds have been treasured as gemstones since their use as religious icons in ancient India. Their usage in engraving tools also dates to early human history. [3] [4] The popularity of diamonds has risen since the 19th century because of increased supply, improved cutting and polishing techniques, growth in the world economy, and innovative and successful advertising campaigns. [5]

Brazen Thieves Plunder Priceless Jewels and Historic Artifacts in 2 Heists in Germany

The museum robberies took place just days apart, in Dresden and Berlin.

In two daring heists that took place just days apart in Germany, burglars stole precious gems and artifacts from museums in two cities. Then they vanished without a trace and are still at large.

The robberies — which are not thought to be related — happened in Dresden and Berlin, according to German news site Der Tagesspiegel. On Nov. 25, two thieves broke into Dresden's Royal Palace, targeting the Jewel Room in the Historisches Grüne Gewölbe (Historic Green Vault), museum representatives said in a statement.

More than 100 individual objects were taken. Among them were 11 jeweled items that were some of the Green Vault's most precious pieces of jewelry they were crafted between 1782 and 1789, and are valued at up to $1 billion, according to the statement. These include spectacular accessories worn by the queen, such as strands of pearls diamond collars, pins and pendants and a large bow-shaped diamond brooch, according to the museum.

Less than a week later, thieves struck Berlin's Stasi Museum. Located in the former headquarters of East Germany's Ministry for State Security (Staatssicherheitsdienst, or "Stasi" for short), the museum exhibits relics from the then-Communist country's notorious secret police.

On the morning of Dec. 1, curators found a broken window on the ground floor three exhibit cases were destroyed, and gold jewelry, medals and other artifacts were missing, according to German news agency DW Akademie. The medals included some of the highest honors awarded in Communist East Germany, such as the Order of Karl Marx. The jewelry taken during the heist had been stolen from private citizens by Stasi officials, DW Akademie reported.

Though these objects are nowhere near as valuable as the diamond payload in Dresden, they are rich in historic importance, said Stasi Museum Director Jörg Drieselmann.

"These are not huge treasures," Drieselmann told the Tagesspiegel. "But we are a history museum and don't expect people to break in."

Prior to the Dresden burglary, the biggest diamond theft in recent history was the Antwerp diamond heist in February 2003, known as the "heist of the century," according to Wired. A ring of Italian criminals broke into a vault in the Antwerp Diamond Center in Belgium, carrying off diamonds, gold and jewelry worth an estimated $100 million. The ringleader, Leonardo Notarbartolo, was captured soon after, but most of the stolen diamonds were never recovered.

An even bigger heist took place in 1990, when two thieves disguised as Boston police officers absconded with an estimated $500 million in artwork from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The 13 pieces of stolen art included paintings by Degas, Rembrandt and Manet, and the pieces remain missing to this day, museum representatives said in a statement.

Police in Dresden are offering a reward of 500,000 euros for information leading to the capture of the jewel thieves and the return of the stolen objects, according to a statement released Nov. 28.

"We will leave no stone unturned to solve this case," senior prosecutor Klaus Rövekamp said in the statement. To that end, the Dresden police have released security camera footage of the break-in, sharing the video on YouTube in the hope that it will lead them to the culprits more quickly.

Good Evening, I write this post so that a reply is provided for the article "Brazen Thieves Plunder Priceless Jewels and Historic Artifacts in 2 Heists in Germany". This is yet another 'massive museum operation' that has been in the works for who knows how long. First of all, to steal more than 100 individual objects concerned with both Art and History is a disgrace. Something of this sort should not be allowed to happen. However, from time to time these wrongdoings DO happen. And it is an utter shame. To steal jewelry and medals that belonged to some of the greatest leaders and role models that are studied in the academic disciplines of Art and History. I say to the 2 persons who committed such a museological tragedy at Dresden and to the 4 persons who committed such a museological tragedy at Berlin, "Have you not been educated in the "Common Sense of Museum Heists/Museum Crimes?"

First off, there are security cameras that have been installed in (and around) the Green Vault Museum building and the Stasi Museum building. With such tools, it is rather challenging to attempt to steal such valued objects of both artistic and historic heritage and culture alike. Second off, there are sensors placed in each of the exhibits (and surrounding architecture) in such a museum as the Green Vault and the Stasi. With that, security and other similar officials within law enforcement are able to be notified (via specially-designed electronic devices specifically geared toward security officers/agents). Third off, inside of each museum (nowadays anyways) are digital, electronic computer devices that are installed in each of the floors of a museum. Using what's known as Computer and Data Surveillance, an individual who works for the security team of the museum, using the appropriate techniques and instructions, can quickly yet comprehensively identify local tourists (and non-tourists) alike who have decided to visit the museum. In the case of criminals and those that commit felonies and etc. due to the stealing of artwork, a security official can rapidly identify and capture a heist (or its visible intentions), and believe it or not, (possibly) in real-time (i.e. as it happens).

All of this that I have written comes to mean something, though. And that is that museums (and other historical organizations, such as Libraries and Archives and Galleries and Fairs) will see a very significantly huge decrease in the number of attempts and, likewise, a very significantly huge decrease in number of completed heists as well. Which means, in due time, it will become safer for tourists, residents, and citizens alike to visit and likewise attend a museum/museum activity.

Lastly, I'll state that these people who have committed the wrongdoing at Dresden and Berlin will NEVER be forgiven for what they have done to negatively affect the culture and the industry and the legal constructs of such cherished organizations.

5 Great Jewel Heists (and what you can learn from them)

The biggest players on the professional jewel thief circuit are a sophisticated bunch. Their connections run deep and they're tapped into a network of attorneys and "fences" who can smuggle valuables undetected to other parts of the world within days. But just because you don't have those sorts of contacts, it doesn't mean you should be dissuaded. According to the the Jeweler's Security Alliance, approximately 80% of the $100 million in gold, silver and precious gems stolen annually are pilfered by amateurs. If you're looking to be a jewel thief, here are 5 tips to get you started.

Tip #1: Don't Hide your Stash in a Piece of Fruit

Way before it was stolen (and then returned), France's Condé diamond already had quite a history. The story starts with King Louis XIII, who was so impressed with his commander Louis II's performance that he gave him a gift: a 9.01 carat pink diamond. Because Louis II also went by the title the Prince of Condé, the gem became known as the Condé diamond. Then, in 1892, the Condé family gave the gem to the French government. But they had one condition: they asked that the precious jewel remain on display for the public to see. The French government complied, and to house the legendary diamond, a Condé family chateau was turned into a museum.
While the gem quickly drew crowds, it also drew the attention of two amateur jewel thieves in their twenties. One October night in 1926, Leon Kauffer and Emile Souter went for it. The duo used a makeshift ladder and a hammer wrapped in cloth, and broke in to an upper window. Then they somehow plucked the diamond and escaped without anyone's noticing them. The duo's plan was simply to smuggle the giant gem out of the country and to have it broken down into smaller pieces for resale.

Amazingly, the whole thing would have worked if it wasn't for a pesky chambermaid named Suzanne Schiltz. While doing her rounds at the Hotel Metropole, Suzanne started to get really hungry when she spotted a bowl of fruit the two gentlemen had stashed in their closet. There was so much fruit in the basket, and the apples and pears looked so tempting, that she finally caved. After all, Suzanne figured that the men wouldn't notice if just one piece of fruit went missing.
But when she took a bite, she nearly broke her tooth. Schiltz examined the apple and discovered that it had been hollowed out and a large gem of some sort had been tucked inside. She reported her finding to the hotel manager and was fired for stealing from a hotel guest. On the upside, she did get a reward from the French government for recovering their priceless treasure.

Tip #2: Talk to Stupid People

The Star of India is a Ceylonese blue sapphire weighing 563.35 carats and is considered to be the largest of its kind in the world. It was donated to New York's American Museum of Natural History in 1900 by J.P. Morgan, which is where, in 1964, former surfing champion Jack Murphy admired it and also noted the lack of security surrounding it. While chatting up a security guard, Murphy found out that the battery for the alarm hooked up to the protective case was dead and had yet to be replaced. He also found out that a second-story window was usually left open at night for ventilation. An experienced "cat burglar," Murphy recruited two accomplices and entered the museum in the middle of the night via the open bathroom window. They walked off with not only the Star of India, but also the Eagle Diamond and the Delong Star Ruby and several other precious gems. Total value of the heist: a cool $400,000. "Murph the Surf" and his two pals were apprehended two days later in Miami (according to Murphy, Interpol identified them because they were spending too much money and they were "partying too strong." The Star of India was recovered from a locker in a Miami bus station.

Tip #3: Choose Trustworthy Partners

Ernest Oppenheimer, who'd made his fortune in mining gold and diamonds, lived with his son and daughter-in-law on a 20-acre estate in a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa. During the summer of 1955, the Oppenheimers hired a crew of workmen to re-roof their stately home. One of those workers was a British WWII veteran named Donald Miles who had worked as a saboteur during his years of military service. Donald could climb along a window ledge with stealth and jimmy a door lock with a piece of celluloid tape. While working at the Oppenheimer home, he noticed how lax security was: Bridget Oppenheimer kept over a half million dollars' worth of jewels in a wall safe, the key to which she kept in a satin box in her closet. On the evening of December 7, 1955, the Oppenheimers went to a dinner party. When they returned, Bridget noticed one of the pillow cases was missing from her bed. Giving no thought to it, she retired for the evening only to discover the next morning that all $600,000 worth of diamonds, emeralds and sapphires had been taken from her safe.

The police were stumped. There were no signs of forced entry, and the safe's key was still in its box. Of course, here's where tip #2 comes in: Miles might never have been caught if it hadn't been for the greed of his trusty pal William Pearson. Pearson had agreed to help Miles fence the jewels for a price, but he changed his mind when he caught wind of the $42,000 reward being offered by the Oppenheimer's.

Tip #4: Finish Your Food

Leonardo Notarbartolo is probably spending much of his time in prison kicking himself. Notarbartolo was the mastermind of an audacious robbery that took place in 2003, at Belgium's renowned Antwerp Diamond Center. It all started when Leo and several of his cohorts set up a bogus company and rented office space in the same building. Then they spent three years "casing" the place. During that time they managed to make copies of the master keys and learn the schedules and routines of the security guards. They even figured out how to break past the internal magnets in the 12 inch thick steel doors that protected the vault and triggered the alarm system. On February 16th, the group put their plan into action and plundered 123 vaults. They also knew enough to steal the accompanying authenticity records for the gems as well, making resale a whole lot easier.

So, why is Notarbartolo behind bars? Well, partially it's because he didn't eat all his food. The big break in the case came when police found a discarded paper bag along Antwerp's main avenue that contained video tapes and a half-eaten sandwich. The tapes were security tapes from the vault. But there was also enough DNA from the sandwich to put Leo and his accomplices behind bars. That doesn't mean the police found the jewels, though. As of this writing, none of the stolen gems have been recovered.

Tip #5: Find a Great Costume

Not all jewel thieves bother to work under cover of darkness on December 5, 2005, a group of four robbers dressed in women's clothing and wearing wigs entered the Harry Winston boutique in Paris and confronted employees at gunpoint. They ordered all the display cases (which were filled with glittery gifts in order to tempt Christmas shoppers) emptied into their bags. They also made off with the contents of the store's safe, for a total haul of approximately $108 million in diamond jewelry. Surveillance tapes have led investigators to believe that the thieves are part of a group that calls itself the Pink Panthers and who have been responsible for jewel thefts in 19 countries in the past 10 years.

GTA Online Heist: The Fleeca Job - #7

The first heist ever released for GTA Online, The Fleeca Job is somewhat similar to the first main story heist, The Jewelry Store Job. As a two-person heist, The Fleeca Job involves robbing a bank. The prep missions are relatively short, with players only needing to steal and protect an armored vehicle needed for the heist. Despite it being the first online heist, The Fleeca Job does showcase some character development from Lester and potential main story heist crew member Paige. At the hardest difficulty, players can earn a total payout of around $143,750 which is the lowest out of any heist.


Origin of the name Edit

Early recorded versions of the name include Ando Verpia on Roman coins found in the city centre, [11] Germanic Andhunerbo from around the time Austrasia became a separate kingdom (that is, about 567 CE), [12] and (possibly originally Celtic) Andoverpis in Dado's Life of St. Eligius (Vita Eligii) from about 700 CE. The form Antverpia is New Latin. [13]

A Germanic (Frankish or Frisian) origin could contain prefix anda ("against") and a noun derived from the verb werpen ("to throw") and denote, for example: land thrown up at the riverbank an alluvial deposit a mound (like a terp) thrown up (as a defence) against (something or someone) or a wharf. [14] [15] [16] If Andoverpis is Celtic in origin, it could mean "those who live on both banks". [17]

There is a folklore tradition that the name Antwerpen is from Dutch handwerpen ("hand-throwing"). A giant called Antigoon is said to have lived near the Scheldt river. He extracted a toll from passing boatmen, severed the hand of anyone who did not pay, and threw it in the river. Eventually the giant was killed by a young hero named Silvius Brabo, who cut off the giant's own hand and flung it into the river. This is unlikely to be the true origin, but it is celebrated by a statue (illustrated further below) in the city's main market square, the Grote Markt. [18] [11]

Pre-1500 Edit

Historical Antwerp allegedly had its origins in a Gallo-Roman vicus. Excavations carried out in the oldest section near the Scheldt, 1952–1961 (ref. Princeton), produced pottery shards and fragments of glass from mid-2nd century to the end of the 3rd century. The earliest mention of Antwerp dates from the 4th century.

In the 4th century, Antwerp was first named, having been settled by the Germanic Franks. [16]

The Merovingian Antwerp was evangelized by Saint Amand in the 7th century. At the end of the 10th century, the Scheldt became the boundary of the Holy Roman Empire. Antwerp became a margraviate in 980, by the German emperor Otto II, a border province facing the County of Flanders.

In the 11th century, the best-known leader of the First Crusade (1096–1099), Godfrey of Bouillon, was originally Margrave of Antwerp, from 1076 until his death in 1100, though he was later also Duke of Lower Lorraine (1087–1100) and Defender of the Holy Sepulchre (1099–1100). In the 12th century, Norbert of Xanten established a community of his Premonstratensian canons at St. Michael's Abbey at Caloes. Antwerp was also the headquarters of Edward III during his early negotiations with Jacob van Artevelde, and his son Lionel, the Duke of Clarence, was born there in 1338. [19]

16th century Edit

After the silting-up of the Zwin and the consequent decline of Bruges, the city of Antwerp, then part of the Duchy of Brabant, grew in importance. At the end of the 15th century the foreign trading houses were transferred from Bruges to Antwerp, and the building assigned to the association of English merchants active in the city is specifically mentioned in 1510. [19] Antwerp became the sugar capital of Europe, importing the raw commodity from Portuguese and Spanish plantations on both sides of the Atlantic, where it was grown by a mixture of free and forced labour, increasingly enslaved Africans as the century progressed. [20] The city attracted Italian and German sugar refiners by 1550, and shipped their refined product to Germany, especially Cologne. [21] Moneylenders and financiers developed a large business lending money all over Europe including the English government in 1544–1574. London bankers were too small to operate on that scale, and Antwerp had a highly efficient bourse that itself attracted rich bankers from around Europe. After the 1570s, the city's banking business declined: England ended its borrowing in Antwerp in 1574. [22]

Fernand Braudel states that Antwerp became "the centre of the entire international economy, something Bruges had never been even at its height." [23] Antwerp was the richest city in Europe at this time. [24] Antwerp's Golden Age is tightly linked to the "Age of Exploration". During the first half of the 16th century Antwerp grew to become the second-largest European city north of the Alps. Many foreign merchants were resident in the city. Francesco Guicciardini, the Florentine envoy, stated that hundreds of ships would pass in a day, and 2,000 carts entered the city each week. Portuguese ships laden with pepper and cinnamon would unload their cargo. According to Luc-Normand Tellier "It is estimated that the port of Antwerp was earning the Spanish crown seven times more revenues than the Spanish colonization of the Americas". [25]

Without a long-distance merchant fleet, and governed by an oligarchy of banker-aristocrats forbidden to engage in trade, the economy of Antwerp was foreigner-controlled, which made the city very cosmopolitan, with merchants and traders from Venetian Republic, Republic of Genoa, Republic of Ragusa, Spain and Portugal. Antwerp had a policy of toleration, which attracted a large crypto-Jewish community composed of migrants from Spain and Portugal. [26]

By 1504, the Portuguese had established Antwerp as one of their main shipping bases, bringing in spices from Asia and trading them for textiles and metal goods. The city's trade expanded to include cloth from England, Italy and Germany, wines from Germany, France and Spain, salt from France, and wheat from the Baltic. The city's skilled workers processed soap, fish, sugar, and especially cloth. Banks helped finance the trade, the merchants, and the manufacturers. The city was a cosmopolitan center its bourse opened in 1531, "To the merchants of all nations." [27]

Antwerp experienced three booms during its golden age: the first based on the pepper market, a second launched by American silver coming from Seville (ending with the bankruptcy of Spain in 1557), and a third boom, after the stabilising Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis in 1559, based on the textiles industry. At the beginning of the 16th century Antwerp accounted for 40% of world trade. [25] The boom-and-bust cycles and inflationary cost-of-living squeezed less-skilled workers. In the century after 1541, the city's economy and population declined dramatically The Portuguese merchants left in 1549, and there was much less trade in English cloth. Numerous financial bankruptcies began around 1557. Amsterdam replaced Antwerp as the major trading center for the region. [28]

Reformation era Edit

The religious revolution of the Reformation erupted in violent riots in August 1566, as in other parts of the Low Countries. The regent Margaret, Duchess of Parma, was swept aside when Philip II sent the Duke of Alba at the head of an army the following summer. When the Eighty Years' War broke out in 1568, commercial trading between Antwerp and the Spanish port of Bilbao collapsed and became impossible. On 4 November 1576, Spanish soldiers sacked the city during the so-called Spanish Fury: 7,000 citizens were massacred, 800 houses were burnt down, and over £2 million sterling of damage was done.

Dutch revolt Edit

Subsequently, the city joined the Union of Utrecht in 1579 and became the capital of the Dutch Revolt. In 1585, Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma and Piacenza, captured it after a long siege and as part of the terms of surrender its Protestant citizens were given two years to settle their affairs before quitting the city. [29] Most went to the United Provinces in the north, starting the Dutch Golden Age. Antwerp's banking was controlled for a generation by Genoa, and Amsterdam became the new trading centre.

17th–19th centuries Edit

The recognition of the independence of the United Provinces by the Treaty of Münster in 1648 stipulated that the Scheldt should be closed to navigation, which destroyed Antwerp's trading activities. This impediment remained in force until 1863, although the provisions were relaxed during French rule from 1795 to 1814, and also during the time Belgium formed part of the Kingdom of the United Netherlands (1815 to 1830). [19] Antwerp had reached the lowest point in its fortunes in 1800, and its population had sunk to under 40,000, when Napoleon, realizing its strategic importance, assigned funds to enlarge the harbour by constructing a new dock (still named the Bonaparte Dock), an access-lock and mole, and deepening the Scheldt to allow larger ships to approach Antwerp. [24] Napoleon hoped that by making Antwerp's harbour the finest in Europe he would be able to counter the Port of London and hamper British growth. However, he was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo before he could see the plan through. [30] In 1830, the city was captured by the Belgian insurgents, but the citadel continued to be held by a Dutch garrison under General David Hendrik Chassé. For a time Chassé subjected the town to periodic bombardment which inflicted much damage, and at the end of 1832 the citadel itself was besieged by the French Northern Army commanded by Marechal Gerard. During this attack the town was further damaged. In December 1832, after a gallant defence, Chassé made an honourable surrender, ending the Siege of Antwerp (1832). [19]

Later that century, a double ring of Brialmont Fortresses was constructed some 10 km (6 mi) from the city centre, as Antwerp was considered vital for the survival of the young Belgian state. And in 1894 Antwerp presented itself to the world via a World's Fair attended by 3 million. [31]

20th century Edit

Antwerp was the first city to host the World Gymnastics Championships, in 1903. During World War I, the city became the fallback point of the Belgian Army after the defeat at Liège. The Siege of Antwerp lasted for 11 days, but the city was taken after heavy fighting by the German Army, and the Belgians were forced to retreat westwards. Antwerp remained under German occupation until the Armistice.

During World War II, the city was an important strategic target because of its port. It was occupied by Germany in May 1940 and liberated by the British 11th Armoured Division on 4 September 1944. After this, the Germans attempted to destroy the Port of Antwerp, which was used by the Allies to bring new material ashore. Thousands of Rheinbote, V-1 and V-2 missiles were fired (more V-2s than used on all other targets during the entire war combined), causing severe damage to the city but failed to destroy the port due to poor accuracy. After the war, Antwerp, which had already had a sizeable Jewish population before the war, once again became a major European centre of Haredi (and particularly Hasidic) Orthodox Judaism.

A Ten-Year Plan for the port of Antwerp (1956–1965) expanded and modernized the port's infrastructure with national funding to build a set of canal docks. The broader aim was to facilitate the growth of the north-eastern Antwerp metropolitan region, which attracted new industry based on a flexible and strategic implementation of the project as a co-production between various authorities and private parties. The plan succeeded in extending the linear layout along the Scheldt river by connecting new satellite communities to the main strip. [32]

Starting in the 1990s, Antwerp rebranded itself as a world-class fashion centre. Emphasizing the avant-garde, it tried to compete with London, Milan, New York and Paris. It emerged from organized tourism and mega-cultural events. [33]

21st century Edit

A building collapse killed 5 construction workers in June 2021. [34]

The municipality comprises the city of Antwerp proper and several towns. It is divided into nine entities (districts):

In 1958, in preparation of the 10-year development plan for the Port of Antwerp, the municipalities of Berendrecht-Zandvliet-Lillo were integrated into the city territory and lost their administrative independence. During the 1983 merger of municipalities, conducted by the Belgian government as an administrative simplification, the municipalities of Berchem, Borgerhout, Deurne, Ekeren, Hoboken, Merksem and Wilrijk were merged into the city. At that time the city was also divided into the districts mentioned above. Simultaneously, districts received an appointed district council later district councils became elected bodies. [35]

In the 16th century, Antwerp was noted for the wealth of its citizens ("Antwerpia nummis"). [ citation needed ] The houses of these wealthy merchants and manufacturers have been preserved throughout the city. However, fire has destroyed several old buildings, such as the house of the Hanseatic League on the northern quays, in 1891. [ citation needed ] During World War II, the city also suffered considerable damage from V-bombs, and in recent years, other noteworthy buildings have been demolished for new developments.

    opened in 1843 and is one of the oldest in the world. dates from 1565, and is built primarily in Renaissance style. is a railway station designed by Louis Delacenserie which was completed in 1905. . This church was begun in the 14th century and finished in 1518. The church has four works by Rubens, viz. "The Descent from the Cross", "The Elevation of the Cross", "The Resurrection of Christ" and "The Assumption" [19] , is more ornate than the cathedral. It contains the remains of numerous famous nobles, among them a major part of the family of Rubens.
  • The Church of St. Paul has a baroque interior. It is a few hundred yards north of the Grote Markt (Butchers' Hall) is a fine Gothic brick-built building, situated a short distance to the North-West of the Grote Markt. preserves the house of the printer Christoffel Plantijn and his successor Jan Moretus
  • The Saint-Boniface Church is an Anglican church and headseat of the archdeanery North-West Europe. (Farmers' Tower) or KBC Tower, a 26-storey building built in 1932, is the oldest skyscraper in Europe. [36] It is the tallest building in Antwerp and the second tallest structure after the Cathedral of our Lady. The building was designed by Emiel van Averbeke, R. Van Hoenacker and Jos Smolderen. [37] , with works from the Gothic and Renaissance period in the Netherlands and Belgium, including paintings by Pieter Brueghel the Elder. is the former home and studio of Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) in Antwerp. It is now a museum. is the former 17th-century Residence of Nicolaas II Rockox, Mayor of Antwerp. . Originally built 1531 extensively restored 1872 now Antwerp Trade Fair. , designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership, Arup and VK Studio, and opened by King Albert II, in April 2006. [38][39] This building is the antithesis of the heavy, dark court building, designed by Joseph Poelaert, which dominates the skyline of Brussels. The courtrooms sit on top of six fingers that radiate from an airy central hall, and are surmounted by spires, which provide north light and resemble oast houses or the sails of barges on the nearby River Scheldt. It is built on the site of the old Zuid ("South") station, at the end of a magnificent 1.5 kilometres (1 mile) perspective at the southern end of Amerikalei. The road neatly disappears into an underpass under oval Bolivarplaats to join the motorway ring. This leaves peaceful surface access by foot, bicycle or tram (route 12). The building's highest 'sail' is 51 m (167 ft) high, has a floor area of 77,000 m 2 (830,000 sq ft), and cost €130 million. , a late-19th-century Belle Époque neighbourhood, on the border of Antwerp and Berchem, with many Art Nouveau architectural elements. The area counts as one of the most original Belle Époque urban expansion areas in Europe. or Antwerp's Botanical Garden, created in 1825. Located in the city centre, at the Leopoldstraat, it covers an area of almost 1 hectare. , a museum on pump organs in Klein-Willebroek

Although Antwerp was formerly a fortified city, hardly anything remains of the former enceinte, only some remains of the city wall can be seen near the Vleeshuis museum at the corner of Bloedberg and Burchtgracht. A replica of a castle named Steen has been partly rebuilt near the Scheldt-quais in the 19th century. Antwerp's development as a fortified city is documented between the 10th and the 20th century. The fortifications were developed in different phases:

  • 10th century: fortification of the wharf with a wall and a ditch
  • 12th and 13th century: canals (so called "vlieten" and "ruien") were made
  • 16th century: Spanish fortifications
  • 19th century: double ring of Brialmont forts around the city, dismantling of the Spanish fortifications
  • 20th century: 1960 dismantling of the inner ring of forts, decommissioning of the outer ring of forts

Historical population Edit

This is the population of the city of Antwerp only, not of the larger current municipality of the same name.

  • 1374: 18,000 [40]
  • 1486: 40,000 [41]
  • 1500: around 44/49,000 inhabitants [42]
  • 1526: 50,000 [43]
  • 1567: 105,000 (90,000 permanent residents and 15,000 "floating population", including foreign merchants and soldiers. At the time only 10 cities in Europe reached this size.) [43][44][45][46]
  • 1584: 84,000 (after the Spanish Fury, the French Fury[47] and the Calvinist republic)
  • 1586 (May): 60,000 (after siege)
  • 1586 (October): 50,000
  • 1591: 46,000
  • 1612: 54,000 [48]
  • 1620: 66,000 (Twelve Years' Truce)
  • 1640: 54,000 (after the Black Death epidemics)
  • 1700: 66,000 [49]
  • 1765: 40,000
  • 1784: 51,000
  • 1800: 45,500
  • 1815: 54,000 [50]
  • 1830: 73,500
  • 1856: 111,700
  • 1880: 179,000
  • 1900: 275,100
  • 1925: 308,000
  • 1959: 260,000 [51]

Minorities Edit

(by citizenship)
Population – 2020
(all districts) [52]
Belgium 415,747
Netherlands 20,103
Morocco 11,780
Poland 8,387
Spain 6,221
Afghanistan 4,539
Bulgaria 4,376
Turkey 4,360
Romania 4,131
Iraq 3,082
Portugal 3,043
Syria 2,894
India 2,389
Algeria 2,364
Italy 2,322
France 2,017
Others 34,659

In 2010, 36% to 39% of the inhabitants of Antwerp had a migrant background. A study projects that in 2020, 55% of the population will be of migrant background. [53] [54]

Jewish community Edit

After The Holocaust and the murder of its many Jews, Antwerp became a major centre for Orthodox Jews. At present, about 15,000 Haredi Jews, many of them Hasidic, live in Antwerp. The city has three official Jewish Congregations: Shomrei Hadass, headed by Rabbi Dovid Moishe Lieberman, Machsike Hadass, headed by Rabbi Aron Schiff (formerly by Chief Rabbi Chaim Kreiswirth) and the Portuguese Community Ben Moshe. Antwerp has an extensive network of synagogues, shops, schools and organizations. Significant Hasidic movements in Antwerp include Pshevorsk, based in Antwerp, as well as branches of Satmar, Belz, Bobov, Ger, Skver, Klausenburg, Vizhnitz and several others. Rabbi Chaim Kreiswirth, chief rabbi of the Machsike Hadas community, who died in 2001, was arguably one of the better known personalities to have been based in Antwerp. An attempt to have a street named after him has received the support of the Town Hall and is in the process of being implemented. [ citation needed ]

Jain community Edit

The Jains in Belgium are estimated to be around about 1,500 people. The majority live in Antwerp, mostly involved in the very lucrative diamond business. [55] Belgian Indian Jains control two-thirds of the rough diamonds trade and supplied India with roughly 36% of their rough diamonds. [56] A major temple, with a cultural centre, has been built in Antwerp (Wilrijk). Mr Ramesh Mehta, a Jain, is a full-fledged member of the Belgian Council of Religious Leaders, put up on 17 December 2009. [ citation needed ]

Armenian community Edit

There are significant Armenian communities that reside in Antwerp, many of them are descendants of traders who settled during the 19th century. Most Armenian Belgians are adherents of the Armenian Apostolic Church, with a smaller numbers are adherents of the Armenian Catholic Church and Armenian Evangelical Church.

One of the important sectors that Armenian communities in Antwerp excel and involved in is the diamond trade business, [57] [58] [59] [60] that based primarily in the diamond district. [61] [62] [63] Some of the famous Armenian families involved in the diamond business in the city are the Artinians, Arslanians, Aslanians, Barsamians and the Osganians. [64] [65]

Port Edit

According to the American Association of Port Authorities, the port of Antwerp was the seventeenth largest (by tonnage) port in the world in 2005 and second only to Rotterdam in Europe. It handled 235.2 million tons of cargo in 2018. Importantly it handles high volumes of economically attractive general and project cargo, as well as bulk cargo. Antwerp's docklands, with five oil refineries, are home to a massive concentration of petrochemical industries, second only to the petrochemical cluster in Houston, Texas. [ citation needed ] Electricity generation is also an important activity, with four nuclear power plants at Doel, a conventional power station in Kallo, as well as several smaller combined cycle plants. There is a wind farm in the northern part of the port area. There are plans to extend this in the period 2014–2020. [66] The old Belgian bluestone quays bordering the Scheldt for a distance of 5.6 km (3.5 mi) to the north and south of the city centre have been retained for their sentimental value and are used mainly by cruise ships and short sea shipping. [ citation needed ]

Diamonds Edit

Antwerp's other great mainstay is the diamond trade that takes place largely within the diamond district. [67] 85 percent of the world's rough diamonds pass through the district annually, [68] and in 2011 turnover in the industry was $56 billion. [69] The city has four diamond bourses: the Diamond Club of Antwerp, the Beurs voor Diamanthandel, the Antwerpsche Diamantkring and the Vrije Diamanthandel. [70] Antwerp's history in the diamond trade dates back to as early as the sixteenth century, [68] with the first diamond cutters guild being introduced in 1584. The industry never disappeared from Antwerp, and even experienced a second boom in the early twentieth century. By the year 1924, Antwerp had over 13,000 diamond finishers. [71] Since World War II families of the large Hasidic Jewish community have dominated Antwerp's diamond trading industry, although the last two decades have seen Indian [72] and Maronite Christians from Lebanon and Armenian, [61] traders become increasingly important. [72] Antwerp World Diamond Centre, (AWDC) the successor to the Hoge Raad voor Diamant, plays an important role in setting standards, regulating professional ethics, training and promoting the interests of Antwerp as the capital of the diamond industry. [ citation needed ] However, in recent years Antwerp has seen a downturn in the diamond business, with the industry shifting to cheaper labor markets such as Dubai or India. [73]

Road Edit

A six-lane motorway bypass encircles much of the city centre and runs through the urban residential area of Antwerp. Known locally as the "Ring" it offers motorway connections to Brussels, Hasselt and Liège, Ghent, Lille and Bruges and Breda and Bergen op Zoom (Netherlands). The banks of the Scheldt are linked by three road tunnels (in order of construction): the Waasland Tunnel (1934), the Kennedy Tunnel (1967) and the Liefkenshoek Tunnel (1991).

Daily congestion on the Ring led to a fourth high-volume highway link called the "Oosterweelconnection" being proposed. It would have entailed the construction of a long viaduct and bridge (the Lange Wapper) over the docks on the north side of the city in combination with the widening of the existing motorway into a 14-lane motorway these plans were eventually rejected in a 2009 public referendum. [ citation needed ]

In September 2010 the Flemish Government decided to replace the bridge by a series of tunnels. There are ideas to cover the Ring in a similar way as happened around Paris, Hamburg, Madrid and other cities. This would reconnect the city with its suburbs and would provide development opportunities to accommodate part of the foreseen population growth in Antwerp which currently are not possible because of the pollution and noise generated by the traffic on the Ring. An old plan to build an R2 outer ring road outside the built up urban area around the Antwerp agglomeration for port related traffic and transit traffic never materialized. [ citation needed ]

Rail Edit

Antwerp is the focus of lines to the north to Essen and the Netherlands, east to Turnhout, south to Mechelen, Brussels and Charleroi, and southwest to Ghent and Ostend. It is served by international trains to Amsterdam and Paris, and national trains to Ghent, Bruges, Ostend, Brussels, Charleroi, Hasselt, Liège, Leuven and Turnhout.

Antwerp Central station is an architectural monument in itself, and is mentioned in W G Sebald's haunting novel Austerlitz. Prior to the completion in 2007 of a tunnel that runs northwards under the city centre to emerge at the old Antwerp Dam station, Central was a terminus. Trains from Brussels to the Netherlands had to either reverse at Central or call only at Berchem station, 2 kilometres (1 mile) to the south, and then describe a semicircle to the east, round the Singel. Now, they call at the new lower level of the station before continuing in the same direction.

Antwerp is also home to Antwerpen-Noord, the largest classification yard for freight in Belgium and second largest in Europe. The majority of freight trains in Belgium depart from or arrive here. It has two classification humps and over a hundred tracks.

Public transportation Edit

The city has a web of tram and bus lines operated by De Lijn and providing access to the city centre, suburbs and the Left Bank. The tram network has 12 lines, of which the underground section is called the "premetro" and includes a tunnel under the river. The Franklin Rooseveltplaats functions as the city's main hub for local and regional bus lines.

Air Edit

A small airport, Antwerp International Airport, is located in the district of Deurne, with passenger service to various European destinations. A bus service connects the airport to the city centre.

The now defunct VLM Airlines had its head office on the grounds of Antwerp International Airport. This office is also CityJet's Antwerp office. [74] [75] When VG Airlines (Delsey Airlines) existed, its head office was located in the district of Merksem. [76]

Belgium's major international airport, Brussels Airport, is about 45 kilometres (28 miles) from the city of Antwerp, and connects the city worldwide. It is connected to the city centre by bus, and also by train. The new Diabolo rail connection provides a direct fast train connection between Antwerp and Brussels Airport as of the summer of 2012.

There is also a direct rail service between Antwerp (calling at Central and Berchem stations) and Charleroi South station, with a connecting buslink to Brussels South Charleroi Airport, which runs twice every hour on working days.

The runway has increased in length, and there is now direct connectivity to Spain, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Greece from the city of Antwerp.

In September 2019 Air Antwerp began operations with their first route to London City Airport with old VLM Airlines Fokker 50's.

City council Edit

The current city council was elected in the October 2018 elections.

The current majority consists of N-VA, sp.a and Open Vld, led by mayor Bart De Wever (N-VA).

Party Seats
New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) 23
Green 11
Socialist Party Differently (sp.a) 6
Flemish Interest 6
Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V) 3
Workers' Party of Belgium (PVDA) 4
Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats (Open Vld) 2
Total 55

Former mayors Edit

In the 16th and 17th century important mayors include Philips of Marnix, Lord of Saint-Aldegonde, Anthony van Stralen, Lord of Merksem and Nicolaas II Rockox. In the early years after Belgian independence, Antwerp was governed by Catholic-Unionist mayors. Between 1848 and 1921, all mayors were from the Liberal Party (except for the so-called Meeting-intermezzo between 1863 and 1872). Between 1921 and 1932, the city had a Catholic mayor again: Frans Van Cauwelaert. From 1932 onwards and up until 2013, all mayors belonged to the Social Democrat party: Camille Huysmans, Lode Craeybeckx, Frans Detiège and Mathilde Schroyens, and after the municipality fusion: Bob Cools, Leona Detiège en Patrick Janssens. Since 2013, the mayor is the Flemish nationalist Bart De Wever, belonging to the Flemish separatist party N-VA (New Flemish Alliance).

Antwerp has an oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb) similar to that of Southern England, while being far enough inland to build up summer warmth above 23 °C (73 °F) average highs for both July and August. Winters are more dominated by the maritime currents instead, with temps being heavily moderated. [ citation needed ]

Climate data for Antwerp (1981–2010 normals), sunshine 1984–2013
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.2
Daily mean °C (°F) 3.4
Average low °C (°F) 0.7
Average precipitation mm (inches) 69.3
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 12.3 10.6 12.0 9.2 10.6 10.4 10.2 9.9 10.3 11.4 12.9 12.8 132.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 57 77 122 177 208 202 214 202 144 116 62 47 1,625
Source: Royal Meteorological Institute [77]

Antwerp had an artistic reputation in the 17th century, based on its school of painting, which included Rubens, Van Dyck, Jordaens, the Teniers and many others. [19]

Informally, most Antverpians (in Dutch Antwerpenaren, people from Antwerp) speak Antverpian daily (in Dutch Antwerps), a dialect that Dutch-speakers know as distinctive from other Brabantic dialects for its characteristic pronunciation of vowels: an 'aw' sound approximately like that in 'bore' is used for one of its long 'a'-sounds while other short 'a's are very sharp like the 'a' in 'hat'. The Echt Antwaarps Teater ("Authentic Antverpian Theatre") brings the dialect on stage.

Fashion Edit

Antwerp is a rising fashion city, and has produced designers such as the Antwerp Six. The city has a cult status in the fashion world, due to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, one of the most important fashion academies in the world. It has served as the learning centre for many Belgian fashion designers. Since the 1980s, several graduates of the Belgian Royal Academy of Fine Arts have become internationally successful fashion designers in Antwerp. The city has had a huge influence on other Belgian fashion designers such as Raf Simons, Veronique Branquinho, Olivier Theyskens and Kris Van Assche. [78]

Local products Edit

Antwerp is famous for its local products. In August every year the Bollekesfeest takes place. The Bollekesfeest is a showcase for such local products as Bolleke, an amber beer from the De Koninck Brewery. The city's historical ale, Seefbier, [79] dating back to the 16th century and brewed at the Antwerpse Brouw Compagnie is a testament to the city's long brewing history and one of Belgium's oldest exististing beerstyles. The Mokatine sweets made by Confiserie Roodthooft, Elixir D'Anvers, a locally made liquor, locally roasted coffee from Koffie Verheyen, sugar from Candico, Poolster pickled herring and Equinox horse meat, are other examples of local specialities. One of the most known products of the city are its biscuits, the Antwerpse Handjes, literally "Antwerp Hands". Usually made from a short pastry with almonds or milk chocolate, they symbolize the Antwerp trademark and folklore. The local products are represented by a non-profit organization, Streekproducten Provincie Antwerpen vzw. [ citation needed ]

Missions to seafarers Edit

A number of Christian missions to seafarers are based in Antwerp, notably on the Italiëlei. These include the Mission to Seafarers, British & International Sailors' Society, the Finnish Seamen's Mission, the Norwegian Sjømannskirken and the Apostleship of the Sea. They provide cafeterias, cultural and social activities as well as religious services.

Music Edit

Antwerp is the home of the Antwerp Jazz Club (AJC), founded in 1938 and located on the square Grote Markt since 1994. [80]

The band dEUS was formed in 1991 in Antwerp. dEUS began their career as a covers band, but soon began writing their own material. Their musical influences range from folk and punk to jazz and progressive rock.

Music festivals Edit

Cultuurmarkt van Vlaanderen is a musical festival and a touristic attraction that takes place annually on the final Sunday of August in the city center of Antwerp. Where international and local musicians and actors, present their stage and street performances. [81] [82] [83] [84]

Linkerwoofer is a pop-rock music festival located at the left bank of the Scheldt. This music festival starts in August and mostly local Belgian musicians play and perform in this event. [85] [86] [87]

Other popular festivals Fire Is Gold, and focuses more on urban music, and Summerfestival.

World Choir Games Edit

The city of Antwerp will co-host the 2020 World Choir Games together with the city of Ghent. [88] Organised by the Interkultur Foundation, the World Choir Games is the biggest choral competition and festival in the world.

Antwerp held the 1920 Summer Olympics, which were the first games after the First World War and also the only ones to be held in Belgium. The road cycling events took place in the streets of the city. [89] [90]

Royal Antwerp F.C., currently playing in the Belgian First Division, were founded in 1880 and is known as 'The Great Old' for being the first club registered to the Royal Belgian Football Association in 1895. [91] Since 1998, the club has taken Manchester United players on loan in an official partnership. [92] Another club in the city was Beerschot VAC, founded in 1899 by former Royal Antwerp players. They played at the Olympisch Stadion, the main venue of the 1920 Olympics. Nowadays K. Beerschot V.A. plays at the Olympisch Stadion in the Belgian first division.

Between these two football teams there has always been a big rivalry. When the two play against each other the stadiums are packed and the passioned fans give a great display of their passion, but this has also led to fights, hooliganism and vandalism.

For the year 2013, Antwerp was awarded the title of European Capital of Sport.

Antwerp hosted the start of stage 3 of the 2015 Tour de France on 6 July 2015. [93]

The city's Groenplaats will host the official 2022 FIBA 3x3 World Cup. [94]

Antwerp has a university and several colleges. The University of Antwerp (Universiteit Antwerpen) was established in 2003, following the merger of the RUCA, UFSIA and UIA institutes. Their roots go back to 1852. The University has approximately 23,000 registered students, making it the third-largest university in Flanders, as well as 1,800 foreign students. It has 7 faculties, spread over four campus locations in the city centre and in the south of the city. The University is part of Young Universities for the Future of Europe (YUFE) and Young European Research Universities Network (YERUN).

The city has several colleges, including Antwerp Management School (AMS), Charlemagne University College (Karel de Grote Hogeschool), Plantin University College (Plantijn Hogeschool), and Artesis University College (Artesis Hogeschool). Artesis University College has about 8,600 students and 1,600 staff, and Charlemagne University College has about 10,000 students and 1,300 staff. Plantin University College has approximately 3,700 students.

The Untold Story of the World's Biggest Diamond Heist

To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.

To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.

Leonardo Notarbartolo strolls into the prison visiting room trailing a guard as if the guy were his personal assistant. The other convicts in this eastern Belgian prison turn to look. Notarbartolo nods and smiles faintly, the laugh lines crinkling around his blue eyes. Though he's an inmate and wears the requisite white prisoner jacket, Notarbartolo radiates a sunny Italian charm. A silver Rolex peeks out from under his cuff, and a vertical strip of white soul patch drops down from his lower lip like an exclamation mark.

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.

The loot was never found, but based on circumstantial evidence, Notarbartolo was sentenced to 10 years. He has always denied having anything to do with the crime and has refused to discuss his case with journalists, preferring to remain silent for the past six years.

Notarbartolo sits down across from me at one of the visiting room's two dozen small rectangular tables. He has an intimidating reputation. The Italian anti-Mafia police contend he is tied to the Sicilian mob, that his cousin was tapped to be the next capo dei capi—the head of the entire organization. Notarbartolo intends to set the record straight. He puts his hands on the table. He has had six years to think about what he is about to say.

"I may be a thief and a liar," he says in beguiling Italian-accented French. "But I am going to tell you a true story."

It was February 16, 2003 — a clear, frozen Sunday evening in Belgium. Notarbartolo took the E19 motorway out of Antwerp. In the passenger seat, a man known as Speedy fidgeted nervously, damp with sweat. Notarbartolo punched it, and his rented Peugeot 307 sped south toward Brussels. They hadn't slept in two days.

Speedy scanned the traffic behind them in the side-view mirror and maintained a tense silence. Notarbartolo had worked with him for 30 years—they were childhood buddies—but he knew that his friend had a habit of coming apart at the end of a job. The others on the team hadn't wanted Speedy in on this one—they said he was a liability. Notarbartolo could see their point, but out of loyalty, he defended his friend. Speedy could handle it, he said.

And he had. They had executed the plan perfectly: no alarms, no police, no problems. The heist wouldn't be discovered until guards checked the vault on Monday morning. The rest of the team was already driving back to Italy with the gems. Theyɽ rendezvous outside Milan to divvy it all up. There was no reason to worry. Notarbartolo and Speedy just had to burn the incriminating evidence sitting in a garbage bag in the backseat.

They were accused of breaking into the Antwerp Diamond Center’s supersecure vault and stealing $100 million in diamonds, gold and jewelry. The loot was never found, but their trash was.

Notarbartolo pulled off the highway and turned onto a dirt road that led into a dense thicket. The spot wasn't visible from the highway, though the headlights of passing cars fractured through the trees. Notarbartolo told Speedy to stay put and got out to scout the area.

He passed a rusty, dilapidated gate that looked like it hadn't been touched since the Second World War. It was hard to see in the dark, but the spot seemed abandoned. He decided to burn the stuff near a shed beside a small pond and headed back to the car.

When he got there, he couldn't believe what he was seeing. Speedy had lost it. The contents of the garbage bag was strewn amongst the trees. Speedy was stomping through the mud, hurling paper into the underbrush. Spools of videotape clung to the branches like streamers on a Christmas tree. Israeli and Indian currency skittered past a half-eaten salami sandwich. The mud around the car was flecked with dozens of tiny, glittering diamonds. It would take hours to gather everything up and burn it.

"I think someone's coming," Speedy said, looking panicked.

Notarbartolo glared at him. The forest was quiet except for the occasional sound of a car or truck on the highway. It was even possible to hear the faint gurgling of a small stream. Speedy was breathing fast and shallow—the man was clearly in the midst of a full-blown panic attack.

"Get back in the car," Notarbartolo ordered. They were leaving. Nobody would ever find the stuff here.

Location along the E19 motorway north of Brussels where Speedy dumped the garbage bag of evidence.

Patrick Peys and Agim De Bruycker arrived at the Diamond Center the next morning. They had just received a frantic call: The vault had been compromised. The subterranean chamber was supposed to be one of the most secure safes in the world. Now the foot-thick steel door was ajar, and more than 100 of the 189 safe-deposit boxes had been busted open. Peys and De Bruycker were stunned. The floor was strewn with wads of cash and velvet-lined boxes. Peys stepped on a diamond-encrusted bracelet. It appeared that the thieves had so much loot, they simply couldn't carry it all away.

Peys and De Bruycker lead the Diamond Squad, the world's only specialized diamond police. Their beat: the labyrinthine Antwerp Diamond District. Eighty percent of the world's rough diamonds pass through this three-square-block area, which is under 24-hour police surveillance and monitored by 63 video cameras. About $3 billion worth of gem sales were reported here in 2003, but that's not counting a hidden world of handshake deals and off-ledger transactions. Business relationships follow the ancient family and religious traditions of the district's dominant Jewish and Indian dealers, known as diamantaires. In 2000, the Belgian government realized it would require a special type of cop to keep an eye on things and formed the squad. Peys and De Bruycker were the first hires.

De Bruycker called headquarters, asking for a nationwide alert: The Antwerp Diamond Center had been brazenly robbed. Then he dialed Securilink, the vault's alarm company.

"What is the status of the alarm?" he asked.

"Fully functional," the operator said, checking the signals coming in from the Diamond Center. "The vault is secure."

"Then how is it that the door is wide open and I'm standing inside the vault?" De Bruycker demanded, glancing at the devastation all around him.

He hung up and looked at Peys. They were up against a rare breed of criminal.

The Diamond Center's vault after the robbery.

About 18 months earlier, in the summer of 2001, Leonardo Notarbartolo sipped an espresso at a café on Hoveniersstraat, the diamond district's main street. It was a cramped, narrow place with a half-dozen small tables, but from the corner by the window Notarbartolo could look out on the epicenter of the world's diamond trade. During business hours, Hasidic men wearing broad-brimmed hats hurried past with satchels locked to their wrists. Armored cars idled tensely while burly couriers with handguns wheeled away small black suitcases. There were Africans in bright blue suits, Indian merchants wearing loupes around their necks, and bald Armenians with reading glasses pushed up on their mottled heads.

Billions of dollars in diamonds pass by the café's window. During the day, they travel from office to office in briefcases, coat pockets, and off-the-shelf rollies. At night, all those gems are locked up in safes and underground vaults. It's one of the densest concentrations of wealth in the world.

It's also a thief's paradise. In 2000, Notarbartolo rented a small office in the Diamond Center, one of the area's largest buildings. He presented himself as a gem importer based in Turin, Italy, and scheduled meetings with numerous dealers. He bought small stones, paid cash, dressed well, and cheerfully mangled the French language. The dealers probably never knew that they had just welcomed one of the world's best jewel thieves into their circle.

By his own account, Notarbartolo had pulled off dozens of major robberies by 2000. It wasn't just about the money anymore. He stole because he was born to be a thief. He still remembers every detail of his first robbery. It was 1958—he was 6. His mother had sent him out for milk, and he came back with 5,000 lira—about $8. The milkman had been asleep, and young Leo rifled through his drawers. His mother beat him, but it didn't matter. He had found his calling.

In elementary school, he filched money from his teachers. As a teenager, he stole cars and learned to pick locks. In his twenties, he devoted himself to the study of people, tracking jewelry salesmen around Italy for weeks just to understand their habits. In his thirties, he began to assemble teams of thieves, each with their own specialty. He knew lock-picking experts, alarm aces, safecrackers, guys who could tunnel under anything, and a man who could scale the sleek exteriors of office buildings. Each job brought a different mix of thieves into play. Most, including Notarbartolo, lived in or near Turin, and the group came to be known as the School of Turin.

Notarbartolo's specialty was charm. Acting the part of the jolly jeweler, he was invited into offices, workshops, and even vault rooms to inspect merchandise. He would buy a few stones and then, a week or a month later, steal the target's entire stock in the middle of the night.

Antwerp provided a wealth of opportunity and a good place to fence hot property. A diamond necklace stolen in Italy could be dismantled and its individual gems sold for cash in Antwerp. He came to town about twice a month, stayed a few days at a small apartment near the Diamond District, then drove home to his wife and kids in the foothills of the Alps.

When he had stolen goods to sell, he dealt with only a few trusted buyers. Now, as he finished his espresso, one of them—a Jewish dealer—came in and sat down to chat.

"Actually, I want to talk to you about something a little unusual," the dealer said casually. "Maybe we could walk a little?"

They headed out, and once they were clear of the district, the dealer picked up the conversation. His tone had changed however. The casualness was gone.

"Iɽ like to hire you for a robbery," he said. "A big robbery."

The agreement was straightforward. For an initial payment of 100,000 euros, Notarbartolo would answer a simple question: Could the vault in the Antwerp Diamond Center be robbed?

He was pretty sure the answer was no. He was a tenant in the building and rented a safe-deposit box in the vault to secure his own stash. He viewed it as the safest place to keep valuables in Antwerp. But for 100,000 euros, he was happy to photograph the place and show the dealer how daunting it really was.

So he strolled into the Diamond District with a pen poking out of his breast pocket. At a glance, it looked like a simple highlighter, but the cap contained a miniaturized digital camera capable of storing 100 high-resolution images. Photography is strictly limited in the district, but nobody noticed Notarbartolo's pencam.

He began his reconnaissance at the police surveillance booth on the Schupstraat, a street leading into the center of the district. Behind the booth's bulletproof glass, two officers monitored the area. The three main blocks of the district bristled with video cameras: Every inch of street and sky appeared to be under watch. The booth also contained the controls for the retractable steel cylinders that are deployed to prevent vehicular access to the district. As Notarbartolo walked past, he began taking pictures.

He headed toward the Diamond Center itself, a gray, 14-story, fortresslike building on the south end of the district. It had a private security force that operated a nerve center located at the entrance. Access was blocked by metal turnstiles, and visitors were questioned by guards. Notarbartolo flashed his tenant ID card and breezed through. His camera captured crisp images of everything.

The 3-ton steel vault door.

He took the elevator, descending two floors underground to a small, claustrophobic room—the vault antechamber. A 3-ton steel vault door dominated the far wall. It alone had six layers of security. There was a combination wheel with numbers from 0 to 99. To enter, four numbers had to be dialed, and the digits could be seen only through a small lens on the top of the wheel. There were 100 million possible combinations.

Power tools wouldn't do the trick. The door was rated to withstand 12 hours of nonstop drilling. Of course, the first vibrations of a drill bit would set off the embedded seismic alarm anyway.

The door was monitored by a pair of abutting metal plates, one on the door itself and one on the wall just to the right. When armed, the plates formed a magnetic field. If the door were opened, the field would break, triggering an alarm. To disarm the field, a code had to be typed into a nearby keypad. Finally, the lock required an almost-impossible-to-duplicate foot-long key.

During business hours, the door was actually left open, leaving only a steel grate to prevent access. But Notarbartolo had no intention of muscling his way in when people were around and then shooting his way out. Any break-in would have to be done at night, after the guards had locked down the vault, emptied the building, and shuttered the entrances with steel roll-gates. During those quiet midnight hours, nobody patrolled the interior—the guards trusted their technological defenses.

Notarbartolo pressed a buzzer on the steel grate. A guard upstairs glanced at the videofeed, recognized Notarbartolo, and remotely unlocked the steel grate. Notarbartolo stepped inside the vault.

It was silent—he was surrounded by thick concrete walls. The place was outfitted with motion, heat, and light detectors. A security camera transmitted his movements to the guard station, and the feed was recorded on videotape. The safe-deposit boxes themselves were made of steel and copper and required a key and combination to open. Each box had 17,576 possible combinations.

Notarbartolo went through the motions of opening and closing his box and then walked out. The vault was one of the hardest targets heɽ ever seen.

Notarbartolo leans toward me in the Belgian prison and asks if I have any questions so far. It is a rare break in his fast-moving monologue. There is a sense of urgency. He is allotted only one hour of visiting time per day.

"You're telling me that the heist was organized by an Antwerp diamond dealer," I say.

Notarbartolo was born in Palermo, Sicily, and members of his extended family have long been dogged by accusations of Mafia connections. Those accusations reached a crescendo last year when anti-Mafia police arrested Notarbartolo's cousin Benedetto Capizzi, claiming he was about to become the new leader of the Sicilian Mafia. Notarbartolo says the Italian authorities traveled to Belgium soon after the heist to question him about Capizzi's possible role in the robbery. If there is an organized-crime link, Notarbartolo might be inventing a story about the Jewish diamond dealer to distract attention from what really happened.

Notarbartolo scoffs at this idea and insists that his cousin had nothing to do with the heist. The reality, Notarbartolo says, is that he thought the vault was impregnable. He didn't believe it could be robbed until the dealer went to extraordinary lengths to prove him wrong.

The Antwerp Diamond Center vault was protected by 10 layers of security.

The Door
1. Combination dial (0-99)
2. Keyed lock
3. Seismic sensor (built-in)
4. Locked steel grate
5. Magnetic sensor
6. External security camera

The Vault
7. Keypad for disarming sensors
8. Light sensor
9. Internal security camera
10. Heat/motion sensor (approximate location)

Illustration: Joe McKendry

It took five months for the diamond dealer to call back after Notarbartolo told him the heist was impossible. He had even given him the photographs to prove it. Notarbartolo thought that would be the end of it, but now the dealer wanted to meet at an address outside Antwerp. When Notarbartolo arrived, the dealer was waiting for him in front of an abandoned warehouse.

"I want to introduce you to some people," he said, unlocking the battered front door.

Inside, a massive structure was covered with black plastic tarps. The dealer pulled back a corner and they ducked underneath.

At first, Notarbartolo was confused. He seemed to be standing in the vault antechamber. To his left, he saw the vault door. He was inside an exact replica of the Diamond Center's vault level. Everything was the same. As far as Notarbartolo could tell, the dealer had reconstructed it based on the photographs he had provided. Notarbartolo felt like he had stepped into a movie.

Inside the fake vault, three Italians were having a quiet conversation. They stopped talking when they saw the dealer and Notarbartolo. The dealer introduced them, though Notarbartolo refuses to reveal their names, referring to them only by nicknames.

The Genius specialized in alarm systems. According to the dealer, he could disable any kind of alarm.

"You can disable this?" Notarbartolo asked, pointing at the replica vault.

"I can disable most of it," the Genius said with a smile. "You're going to have to do one or two things yourself, though."

The tall, muscular man was the Monster. He was called that because he was monstrously good at everything he did. He was an expert lock picker, electrician, mechanic, and driver and had enormous physical strength. Everybody was a little scared of him, which was another reason for the nickname.

The King of Keys was a quiet older man. His age set him apart from the others—he looked like somebody's grandfather. The diamond dealer said that the wizened locksmith was among the best key forgers in the world. One of his contributions would be to duplicate the nearly impossible-to-duplicate foot-long vault key.

"Just get me a clear video of it," the man told Notarbartolo. "I'll do the rest."

"That's not so easy," Notarbartolo pointed out.

The King of Keys shrugged. That wasn't his problem.

In September 2002, a guard stepped up to the vault door and began to spin the combination wheel. It was 7 am. He was right on schedule.

Directly above his head and invisible behind the glare of a recessed light, a fingertip-sized video camera captured his every move. With each spin, the combination came to rest on a number. A small antenna broadcast the image. Nearby, in a storage room beside the vault, an ordinary-looking red fire extinguisher was strapped to the wall. The extinguisher was fully functional, but a watertight compartment inside housed electronics that picked up and recorded the video signal.

When the guard finished dialing the combination, he inserted the vault's key. The video camera recorded a sharp image of it before it disappeared inside the keyhole.

He spun the handle, and the vault door swung open.

Thursday morning, February 13, 2003. Two days before the heist. The thud-thud-thud of a police helicopter beat over a convoy of police cars escorting an armored truck through the heart of Antwerp. They blew past posters of Venus Williams—she was due in town to compete in the Proximus Diamond Games tennis tournament.

The escorts bristled with firepower. They belonged to a special diamond-delivery protection unit, and each cop carried a fully automatic weapon. Their cargo: De Beers' monthly shipment of diamonds, worth millions.

De Beers is the world's largest diamond-mining company. In 2003, it controlled 55 percent of the global diamond supply and operated mines in South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana, among others. The rough, unpolished gems were flown to London, where they were divided and placed in 120 boxes—one for each official De Beers distributor, many of which were headquartered in Antwerp.

Every month, Antwerp's share of the boxes was flown into Belgium and transferred to a Brinks armored truck. Once the truck's doors slammed shut, the convoy sped away, sirens wailing. The vehicles rocketed past the guard gate at the entrance of the district, and the giant metal cylinders rose out of the ground behind them, blocking any further automotive access.

The armed escorts fanned out on foot around the armored truck to form a perimeter. No one was allowed near the vehicle. The doors swung open, and the boxes were quickly carried through an unremarkable entrance in the middle of the block. It was payday. The Diamond District was flush.

Notarbartolo was buzzed into the vault the next day, Friday, February 14—the day before the robbery. He was alone. In his jacket pocket, he carried a can of women's hair spray.

Notarbartolo used women's hair spray to temporarily disable the vault's combined heat/motion sensor.

A security camera recorded his movements—police would later watch the footage—but the guard had gotten used to the Italian's frequent visits and wasn't paying attention. Notarbartolo stepped away from the safe-deposit boxes and pulled out the aerosol can. With a quick, practiced circular movement, he covered the combined heat/motion sensor with a thin coat of transparent, oily mist.

The vault was momentarily filled with the smell of a woman's hair.

It was a simple but effective hack: The oily film would temporarily insulate the sensor from fluctuations in the room's temperature, and the alarm went off only if it sensed both heat and motion.

Still, it was hard to guess how long the trick would work. Once the Monster was in the vault, he had to install the sensor bypass before his body heat penetrated the film. He might have five minutes—he might have less. Nobody knew for sure.

Venus Williams smashed the ball crosscourt with a yelp, overwhelming her leggy Slovakian opponent. It was Saturday night, and Williams was dominating the semifinals of the Diamond Games, an event that hyped Antwerp's predominant position in the gem world. Many of the city's diamantaires watched as Williams beat down the Slovak and moved one step closer to winning a tennis racket encrusted with nearly $1 million worth of stones.

Across town, the Diamond District was deserted. Notarbartolo drove his rented gray Peugeot 307 past the city's soot-covered central train station and turned onto Pelikaanstraat, a road that skirted the district. He pulled to the curb, and the Monster, the Genius, the King of Keys, and Speedy stepped out carrying large duffel bags. The King of Keys picked the lock on a run-down office building, and they disappeared through the door. It was a little past midnight.

The Genius led them out the rear of the building into a private garden that abutted the back of the Diamond Center. It was one of the few places in the district that wasn't under video surveillance. Using a ladder he had previously hidden there, the Genius climbed up to a small terrace on the second floor. A heat-sensing infrared detector monitored the terrace, but he approached it slowly from behind a large, homemade polyester shield. The low thermal conductivity of the polyester blocked his body heat from reaching the sensor. He placed the shield directly in front of the detector, preventing it from sensing anything.

The balcony was now safe. While the rest of the team scrambled up, the Genius disabled an alarm sensor on one of the balcony's windows. One by one, the thieves climbed through the window, dropped into a stairwell, and descended to the darkened vault antechamber. They covered the security cameras with black plastic bags and flipped on the lights. The vault door stood imposingly before them. The building was quiet—no alarms had been triggered. The police never determined how the men had entered the building.

The Genius pulled a custom-made slab of rigid aluminum out of his bag and affixed heavy-duty double-sided tape to one side. He stuck it on the two plates that regulated the magnetic field on the right side of the vault door and unscrewed their bolts. The magnetic plates were now loose, but the sticky aluminum held them together, allowing the Genius to pivot them out of the way and tape them to the antechamber wall. The plates were still side by side and active—the magnetic field never wavered—but they no longer monitored the door. Some 30 hours later, the authorities would marvel at the ingenuity.

The Genius used this custom-made slab of aluminum to reposition the magnetic field away from the vault door.

Next, the King of Keys played out a hunch. In Notarbartolo's videos, the guard usually visited a utility room just before opening the vault. When the thieves searched the room, they found a major security lapse: The original vault key was hanging inside.

The King of Keys grabbed the original. There was no point in letting the safe manufacturers know that their precious key could be copied, and the police still don't know that a duplicate was made.

The King of Keys slotted the original in the keyhole and waited while the Genius dialed in the combination they had gleaned from the video. A moment later, the Genius nodded. The Monster turned off the lights—they didn't want to trigger the light detector in the vault when the door opened. In the darkness, the King of Keys turned the key and spun a four-pronged handle. The bolts that secured the door retracted and it swung heavily open.


The burglars worked through the four-day weekend of the Easter Bank Holiday, when many of the nearby businesses (many of them also connected with Hatton Garden's jewellery trade) were closed. [6] There was no externally visible sign of a forced entry to the premises. [7] It was reported that the burglars had entered the premises through a lift shaft, [8] then drilled through the 50 cm (20 in) [9] thick vault walls with a Hilti DD350 industrial power drill. [1] [10] The police first announced that the facility had been burgled on 7 April, [11] and reports based on CCTV footage (released by the Daily Mirror before the police released it) state that the attack on the facility commenced on Thursday 2 April. [11] [12] The video showed people nicknamed by the newspaper as "Mr Ginger, Mr Strong, Mr Montana, The Gent, The Tall Man and The Old Man". [13] [14] On 22 April, the police released pictures of the inside of the vault showing damage caused by the burglary, and how the burglars had used holes drilled through the vault's wall to bypass the main vault door. [15]

The theft was so significant that the investigation was assigned to the Flying Squad, a branch of the Specialist, Organised & Economic Crime Command within London's Metropolitan Police Service. [16] On 8 April, press reports emerged speculating that a major underground fire in nearby Kingsway may have been started to create a diversion as part of the Hatton Garden burglary. [17] The London Fire Brigade later stated that the fire had been caused by an electrical fault, with no sign of arson. [18]

  • On 1 April 2015, electrical cables under the pavement in Kingsway caught fire, leading to serious disruption in central London. The fire continued for the next two days, with flames shooting out of a manhole cover from a burst gas main, [19] before being extinguished. [20] Several thousand people were evacuated from nearby offices, and several West End theatres cancelled performances. [19][21][22] There was also substantial disruption to telecoms infrastructure. [23]
  • 2 April: 21:19 depository staff locked doors for the Easter weekend [11][12]
  • 2 April: 21:23 "Mr Ginger" descended to the vault, followed by three men pulling wheelie bins[12]
  • 3 April: 00:21 Metropolitan Police were informed that the burglar alarm had been triggered
  • 3 April: 08:05 gang members talked before going to their van and driving away
  • 4 April: 21:17 "Mr Ginger" went down into vault, and was later joined by two other men
  • 5 April: 06:10 the gang members drove away from the bank
  • 7 April: Scotland Yard expressed awareness that a burglary had taken place [11]
  • 10 April: The Daily Mirror released CCTV footage [14]
  • 19 May: The Metropolitan Police announced that they had arrested nine suspects [24]
  • 1 September: Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company went into liquidation[25]
  • 28 March 2018: Another man was arrested [26]

On 19 May 2015, 76-year-old Brian Reader, who had previously been involved in laundering the proceeds of the Brink's-Mat robbery, was arrested in connection with the burglary by Flying Squad officers. [27] [28] In November 2015, Carl Wood, William Lincoln, Jon Harbinson and Hugh Doyle were all charged with conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to conceal, convert or transfer criminal property. The theft was described as the "largest burglary in English legal history". [29] Three years after the burglary, on 28 March 2018, Michael Seed, 57, was arrested after his home in Islington, London, had been searched. He was charged with conspiracy to burgle and conspiracy to conceal or disguise criminal property. [26] [30]

On 9 March 2016, at Woolwich Crown Court, three members of the gang, John "Kenny" Collins, Daniel Jones, and Terry Perkins, having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary, were each given a seven-year prison term.

Carl Wood and William Lincoln were found guilty of the same offence and also one count of conspiracy to conceal, convert or transfer criminal property, after trial. Lincoln was also given a seven-year sentence, and Wood was sentenced to six years.

Hugh Doyle was found guilty of concealing, converting or transferring criminal property. He was jailed for 21 months, suspended for two years. [31] Doyle was also fined £367.50 for his general criminal conduct in January 2018. [32]

The alleged ringleader, Brian Reader, was sentenced to six years and three months in prison on 21 March 2016. [4]

An eighth man, Jon Harbinson, was found not guilty and discharged. [5]

In January 2018, a confiscation ruling at Woolwich Crown Court ruled that John "Kenny" Collins, Daniel Jones, Terry Perkins and Brian Reader must pay a total of £27.5 million or face another seven years in prison. [33] Perkins died in prison in February 2018, just a week after the ruling. [34] On 14 August 2018, Daniel Jones had his sentence extended by six years and 287 days for failing to return £6,599,021. [35] On 1 August 2019, Collins was sentenced to an additional 2,309 days for failing to comply with the confiscation order. It was revealed during the hearing Collins had repaid £732,000 of the £7.6 million order. Enforcement action was said by the Crown Prosecution Service to be underway to seize Collins' remaining assets. [36] [37]

On 15 March 2019, Michael Seed was found guilty of burglary and conspiracy to burgle and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the former and eight years for the latter, the two running concurrently. [38] On 1 October 2020, Michael Seed was ordered to repay £6 million in damages or face seven years in prison. [39] [40]

The burglary featured in episode five ("Heist!") of the American investigative science web-TV series White Rabbit Project, released on 9 December 2016. In the programme, presenters investigate and demonstrate the methods used in the heist and show dramatised re-enactments. [ citation needed ]

The burglary is the subject of three feature films: Hatton Garden: The Heist (2016) The Hatton Garden Job (2017), starring Larry Lamb and Phil Daniels and King of Thieves (2018), starring Michael Caine and Ray Winstone. [41] [42] A four-part television serial, Hatton Garden, starring Kenneth Cranham and Timothy Spall, was aired on ITV in May 2019, after being delayed for 18 months due to legal developments. [43]

The Hatton Garden Heist, a radio play by Philip Palmer was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2017. [44]


In 1978, Lufthansa Airlines employee Louis Werner knew two important things: First, that a Lufthansa airplane occasionally transported unmarked bills from West Germany to New York's Kennedy Airport, where they were temporarily held in nothing more than cardboard boxes locked inside a vault. Second, that he owed about $20,000 in gambling debts to his bookie.

HOW THEY DID IT: The wrong way - with brute force. Even though it became source material for the 1990 film “GoodFellas” (plus several books and even a few copycat crimes), the Lufthansa Airport Heist was a brutal affair. Using a few helpful tips from Werner, infamous crime lord Jimmy Burke put together an operation that involved several phases - breaking into the airport's cargo terminal, handcuffing employees, and subduing guards. Once inside the vault, they found 72 boxes of cash and jewelry totaling about $6 million (instead of the $2 million they'd expected). As for the getaway, the gang used bloody force to make sure no employees reported the crime until long after they'd left the airport. The entire robbery took only 64 minutes, but it became one of the most complex and lucrative heists in U.S. history.

HOW THEY GOT CAUGHT: Unlike the other heists, in which some gang members fled the country to hide, the Lufthansa Airlines gangsters stuck around. Not only that, but they made the mistake of displaying their newfound wealth a bit too obviously. The police had a pretty good idea who was behind the crime, and it wasn't long before snitches implicated Werner and a few others. Many of the participants were murdered before they could squeal, while still others became informants and joined the Witness Protection Program. Werner, who organized but didn't participate in the actual theft, was the only one convicted for a role in the heist.

The article above, written by John Brandon, appeared in the Jan - Feb 2007 issue of mental_floss magazine. It is reprinted here with permission.

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