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May 22, 2013

The (Almost) Flawless Diamond Heist Of Antwerp

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Joshua Davis, a writer at Wired magazine, had been writing letters to a Belgian prison for four years, hoping to communicate with the man convicted of orchestrating the biggest diamond robbery in history. He’d begun to accept that he would not hear anything when his home phone rang one morning: "Bonjour. C’est Leonardo Notarbartolo."

In a series of jailhouse interviews, Notarbartolo told the writer how he organized a five-person team – including a strong man, a lock smith and an electrician – to break into a seemingly impenetrable vault in Antwerp, Belgium, home of the world’s biggest diamond district.

"It was the perfect crime in all regards," Davis says.

In this conversation with host Dick Gordon, Davis explains Notarbartolo’s plan to dissemble a sophisticated theft-prevention system, and the identity of the person he says was the true mastermind behind the heist. He also explains how Notarbartolo’s escape was undone by a half-eaten salami sandwich, and whether there’s any connection with this year’s robbery from a Belgian airport of $50 million in precious stones.

Music

"Taller Children" by Elizabeth& Catapult; "Sinnerman" by Nina Simone

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