Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History

Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History

by Scott Andrew Selby, Greg Campbell

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Overview

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

Although the crime was perfect, the getaway was not. The police zeroed in on a band of professional thieves fronted by Leonardo Notarbartolo, a dapper Italian who had rented an office in the Diamond Center and clandestinely cased its vault for over two years. The “who” of the crime had been answered, but the “how” remained largely a mystery.

Enter Scott Andrew Selby, a Harvard Law grad and diamond expert, and Greg Campbell, author of Blood Diamonds, who undertook a global goose chase to uncover the true story behind the daring heist. Tracking the threads of the story throughout Europe—from Belgium to Italy, in seedy cafés and sleek diamond offices—the authors sorted through an array of conflicting details, divergent opinions and incongruous theories to put together the puzzle of what actually happened that Valentine’s Day weekend.

This real-life Ocean’s Eleven—a combination of diamond history, journalistic reportage, and riveting true-crime story—provides a thrilling in-depth study detailing the better-than-fiction heist of the century.



Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402766510
Publisher: Union Square Press
Publication date: 02/02/2010
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Scott Andrew Selby is a graduate of UC Berkeley, Harvard Law School, and Sweden's Lund University, where he wrote his master's thesis on diamonds.

Don Hagen started narrating audiobooks in 1997, as a volunteer at Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D), which was recently renamed Learning Ally. Don has spent time in a variety of booths. His voice has been heard on a wide range of projects, from radio/TV commercials to documentaries to audiobooks. In addition to his freelance voice work, he is a member of the audiobook narration team at the Library of Congress. But he spends most of his time recording commercial audiobooks in his home studio in a neighborhood of Washington, DC.

What People are Saying About This

Douglas Preston

"With Flawless, Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell take the genre of true crime to a new level. Reading it, you realize that sometimes reality can be more fantastic than most action films."--(Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi, New York Times bestselling authors of The Monster of Florence)

Julian Rubinstein

"In Flawless, Selby and Campbell expertly dissect this audacious crime in a compellingly expansive investigation ranging from the intricacies of the diamond industry to the history of the mob in Italy. A story that could have been ripped from the pages of a movie script but which is rooted in fact, Flawless is a rare true crime story-a real diamond in the rough."--(Julian Rubinstein, author of Ballad of the Whiskey Robber)

Lee Gruenfeld

"That real life often outdoes fiction is no longer surprising, but when a true story is brilliantly told, it's a discovery worth shouting about. Flawless will leave you gasping as the authors gradually peel back the covers on one of the most audacious acts of high stakes mischief in the history of thievery."--(Lee Gruenfeld, co-author of Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief)

Tom Zoellner

"[D]azzling. Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell take us into the minds of top-drawer jewel thieves who view every lock as a challenge, every cop as a fool and everyone else's diamonds as their own birthright. Handle with discretion-you might be up all night reading."--(Tom Zoellner, author of The Heartless Stone and Uranium)

Gregg Olsen

"The first 'must-be-read-with-popcorn' book ever. Selby and Campbell's propulsive and cinematic narrative shimmers with truth, hubris and knowing details. I loved it."--(Gregg Olsen, New York Times bestselling author of Starvation Heights)

Ulrich Boser

"Part whodunit, part mob tell-all, part diamond underworld reportage, Flawless is simply too good to miss."--(Ulrich Boser, author of The Gardner Heist)

Customer Reviews

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Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 340 reviews.
Jane_Moore More than 1 year ago
flawless was a delight to read. the cover shimmered with the colors of the rainbow and the prose inside brought to life the daring escapades of a group of high end cat burglars. if you like a good heist, you'll love flawless...
BookLover272 More than 1 year ago
Reading this book is like watching a heist film. I read it straight through as soon as I got and even read the notes section at the end. I loved Ocean's 11 and I loved this book even more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Author does a great job creating a narrative around a true event! Really interesting details about the places, players, and actual crime... Reads nicely. Plus, I got it for FREE XD.... And to the reviewer complaining about getting charged, you most likely missed the promotion (I think it was a daily, and thus one day only...) and didn't realize it. Not a reason to down rate the book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yes it does require credit card info but you will not be charged. Also I have read the interview that was in the Wired magazine a few months ago about this heist and I was hooked. This book is just a great extension to that article!
Batgirl22 More than 1 year ago
good read!
Colorado_Native More than 1 year ago
The topic is a puzzle waiting for solution. The writers do an incredible amount of research and follow-up. There are times where the story slows due to explanations and side stories. These are interesting, just slows getting to the solution. I enjoyed the bibliography almost as much as the main story due to the "insider" approach the writers took. This book would be excellent for book clubs as a variety of readers would provide a good discussion because some details in the story could be overlooked---there are lots of details. Overall, it was an interesting story and well-written.
LegalBeagle More than 1 year ago
Until February 15, 2003, the Antwerp Diamond Center in Brussels Belgium was considered an impenetrable fortress. And with good reason as it is located within Belgium's version of Fort Knox: the Diamond District which is secured with vehicle barriers, 24/7 video surveillance, armed patrols, and two police stations. On February 16, 2003, however, the world learned the truth when the School of Turin carried out the greatest heist in history! Flawless by Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell, reveals in exquisite detail how the thieves used cunning rather than brute force to pull off the caper. For over 27 months, career jewelry thief, Leonardo Notarbartolo, the identified ring leader (although the true leader may still be unidentified), and his Italian cronies planned the job even the Mafia passed on. Posing as a legitimate diamond dealer, Notarbartolo rented an office in the Diamond Center so that he could observe, videotape, and analyze the minutia that would result in the most expensive theft in history. As the authors note: The slow pace and tedium of planning a heist is something most Hollywood movies rarely depict. Heist films never show the frustration of needing to wait a month or more to get a critical piece of information from the inside man, such as confirmation on the number of security guards who work during the day. They don't show the gnawing fear that something is being overlooked, or that their ideas might not work. And they don't show the interminable hours staring at blueprints and watching videotapes over and over and drawing a blank. Thanks to Flawless, however, the truth behind the headlines is exposed. With everyday items such as hairspray, Styrofoam, duct tape, combined with precise planning the thieves managed to abscond with anywhere from with a108 million to 432 million dollars in diamonds. The exact figure remains unknown because many of the victims did not disclose their losses. Flawless is a not-to-be-missed entertaining and exciting true crime book! Publisher: Union Square Press (February 2, 2010), 336 pages. Review Copy Provided Courtesy of the Publisher.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thought this would be an interesting book when I saw it as the Free Friday book so was intrigued to start reading it. Started out well, detailed but not to a point of distraction and then it dropped fast. The description of how long it takes to plan something of this magnitude was a lesson in patience and simplicity of tools that they created to complete the task at hand. But once the whole caper was over it unraveled fast - not just for the thieves but for this reader as well. Could not wait to finish and move on to another book. Would recommend to readers interested in learning about the diamond biz but not to someone looking for a good read about major crimes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing story that keeps you wondering "how'd they do that" but then lays it out for you. What is so incredible is that this is a true story. This makes it a more exciting read then even some of the most intense fiction of the "heist" genre suchas the "italian job" or "oceans 11".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fascinating inside look at a giant diamond heist: real-life Ocean's Eleven.
mountain_and_the_sea More than 1 year ago
Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History was my first foray into the true crime genre, and I was definitely not disappointed. Flawless was extremely well-researched, but I never felt bogged down  by facts or statistics; on the contrary, the narrative nonfiction style in which it was written made the novel read like a heist film. Even the side stories and lengthy explanations didn't slow the story down; it only helped the reader understand the length in which these diamond thieves had to go through in order to pull off the biggest jewelry heist in history. In all, Flawless lives up to its name - the pace was fast-moving, the prose was fantastic, and the story was gripping.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A well written book of an heist that no one thought could happen......but yet it did. Once you start reading this book you will not put it down as the suspense is truly riviting as it takes you through an astonishing chain of events. At times I during the read it seemed like I was there.
Patrico More than 1 year ago
Flawless takes place in modern day society where technology is important in everyday life. The book follows a group of modern day professional thieves known as "The School of Turin" have just started to embark on a long and perilous job that will reveals how they did it in a very brilliant and innovative way. A particular theme/message in the book reveals how the impossible can be done. Another is that luck can play a monumental factor in certain situations. I particularly liked how the authors organized how minor characters and details are as important to the plot as the main characters and details are. One of few things about the book that I could criticize would be that this book can be boring during certain scenes to some people. I would recommend this book to someone who has an interest in non-fiction stories that shows how people can still do the impossible in these times. I would recommend reading the authors other work "Blood Diamonds" if you like this type of book. Ultimately, I would give this book an 8.7/10.
huckfinn37 More than 1 year ago
This book is wonderful. it is well-reseached and I love diamonds. I got a true sense of what is took to plan and pull off the heist. I liked that the reader found out what happened to everyone after the heist. I would highly recommend this true crime novel.
CookieMJ More than 1 year ago
This is a fascinating true crime story. It's hard to believe that this happened.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a fascinating story worthy of Hollywood. While the authors seem to have done a lot of research, their reliance on police investigation information without any data from the criminals themselves limits the viewpoint somewhat. Having said that, it is a quite enjoyable tale, as well as a fascinating look at both the diamond trade in Antwerp and the criminal scene in Turin.
lowfive More than 1 year ago
This book was fascinating.. a fun read. I highly recommend it. What a story, and told from an objective point of view. This, the greatest diamond heist in history was pulled off, botched and the whole story is right here. what a ride!
ConnieR215 More than 1 year ago
This book was a great read and very interesting--loved it even more that it was a free download! Interesting and lots of insider info on the diamond trade. Recommend this book--great e-read
lilk More than 1 year ago
This book was very fascinating read for the largest diamond heist in history. It begins in 2003 where a group of men robbed one of the most ultra-secure vaults in the diamond district in Antwerp, but was it really? You know from the very beginning of the book that at least one thief was apprehended, but you don't find out the fate of the others till closer to the end. Along the way you learn a great deal about diamonds and the diamond trade, along with safes, locks, vaults, security measures, Antwerp, and some history, there was a lot of time spent on the plot to rob the diamond district in Antwerp. It's very well written. It's seemed to be divided into two halves: the first half on how the deed was planned and pulled off, the second half is how it was solved and the actual thieves that were caught. Neither half could have occurred were it not for human error. I would highly recommend this book for it's very interesting plot. Soon after I read the book I rented the movie called Flawless with Demi Moore and Michael Caine Where on the eve of his retirement, a disgruntled British janitor (Michael Caine), angry over his company's refusal to pay an insurance claim for his ailing wife, persuades an unhappy American executive (Demi Moore) to join him in a jewel heist. The two subsequently hatch a daring plan to steal the gems from their employer, the London Diamond Corp. Michael Radford directs this crime drama set in 1960s London and loosely based on actual events. While I thought this movie was going to be the same as the book Flawless and it didn't turn out to be that way, it was still a good movie.
IrshLass More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. The research and presentation of information surrounding the diamond heist was informative and thrilling. I loved seeing, not only how the crime was planned and executed, but how the authors researched the whole heist! They hit a slightly sour note with me in discussing the Wired article and deal with Notabartolo. It felt a bit petty and personal, when the rest of the book had been so objective and well-written. Overall, a great read!
DaVinci410 More than 1 year ago
This book was very absorbing in the way that the thieves went about doing the research on how best to pull this heist. The only down side I found was how the writer often implied that the crooks were caught, and how some of their mistakes led to the solving of this crime. Many people (myself included) were not aware of the outcome of this heist, so it was a spoiler to mention how the crooks were caught, long before the reader comes to the heist itself.
knittingmomof3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
From my blog...Flawless is a fast-paced, insightful look into the world's largest diamond heist in history. Through extensive research and interviews, the authors put together the story of how the Diamond District, know as the Diamond Square Mile, as heavily fortified as Fort Knox and known worldwide as one of the most secured miles in the world, could not only be robbed, but done without tripping one alarm or injuring a single person. The authors weave together the history of The Diamond District as well as the history of buying and selling diamonds. Through the authors we learn of the 27 months of surveillance by Notarbartolo and the likely members of the heist, coined by a journalist as The School of Turin, long before the Antwerp Diamond District heist. Prior to this heist, Turin, Italy was facing a series of jewelry store robberies, where no alarms were tripped, nothing was broken, and cameras remained operational. It was as though the jewelry had vanished. Where some crimes use force and bravado, The School of Turin crew used their minds.Flawless takes the reader inside the world's largest diamond heist and exposes what is known to have occurred and what went well for the thieves and what lead to their downfall. The authors show the flaws in the otherwise impressive security measures and lead the reader on a thrilling face-paced adventure from beginning to end. While I am not one who usually enjoys true-crime novels, I was unable to put Flawless down. The history as well as the genius needed to not only pull off such a heist but also the brilliance and dedication the investigators would need to solve such a crime, made Flawless and excellent novel to read.
JBreedlove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting book about a heist I had never heard about. The authors dragged themselves down at the end spending too much time as to why the Wired magazine version could not be true. But none-the-less an easy and enlightening read
thisbookends on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was very fascinating read for the largest diamond heist in history. It begins in 2003 where a group of men robbed one of the most ultra-secure vaults in the diamond district in Antwerp, but was it really? You know from the very beginning of the book that at least one thief was apprehended, but you don't find out the fate of the others till closer to the end. Along the way you learn a great deal about diamonds and the diamond trade, along with safes, locks, vaults, security measures, Antwerp, and some history, there was a lot of time spent on the plot to rob the diamond district in Antwerp. It's very well written. It's seemed to be divided into two halves: the first half on how the deed was planned and pulled off, the second half is how it was solved and the actual thieves that were caught. Neither half could have occurred were it not for human error. I would highly recommend this book for it¿s very interesting plot.Soon after I read the book I rented the movie called Flawless with Demi Moore and Michael Caine Where on the eve of his retirement, a disgruntled British janitor (Michael Caine), angry over his company's refusal to pay an insurance claim for his ailing wife, persuades an unhappy American executive (Demi Moore) to join him in a jewel heist. The two subsequently hatch a daring plan to steal the gems from their employer, the London Diamond Corp. Michael Radford directs this crime drama set in 1960s London and loosely based on actual events. While I thought this movie was going to be the same as the book Flawless and it didn¿t turn out to be that way, it was still a good movie.
acook on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a fascinating book that reads almost like one of Gerald Browne's old heist thrillers. In 2003 a group of men robbed one of the ultra-secure vaults in the diamond district in Antwerp. You know from the beginning of the book that at least one was apprehended, but you don't find out the fate of the others till closer to the end. Along the way you learn a great deal about diamonds and the diamond trade, along with safes, locks, vaults, security measures, Antwerp, and some history. It's very well written. It's roughly divided into two halves: the first half on how the deed was planned and pulled off, the second half is how it was solved. Neither half could have occurred were it not for human error. Very interesting, highly recommend it.