All good things must come to an end. That includes the dizzyingly euphoric and fancy free period when a purloined gemstone comes into one’s possession. Due to inscriptions and intaglios of authenticity etched directly on to the facets of super valuable diamonds, it’s a lot harder than one would think to “move” them. Unlike stolen cash or even gold (which can easily be melted down), diamonds are highly traceable, and often result in reclamation by the rightful owners (unless of course the thieves in question are smart enough to employ a corrupt diamond cutter, who can expertly remove any signatures of ownership without significantly diminishing the carat weight …just saying). Of the millions and millions of dollars worth of stolen diamonds that have disappeared over time, many have been recovered and the perpetrators of the crimes punished accordingly. Here are some of our favorite tales of thievery…and retribution.
“The Bandit of Boca Del Mar” ($150k)
The arrest of Judy Amar (A.K.A. “Judy Love” and “Judy Axelrod” – both amazing adult film star names) lead to a smorgasbord of apprehended diamond jewelry and fancy pants clothes. The pilfered valuables were then put on display at the County Sheriff’s office for an eager group of West Palm Beach residents (who’d had recent break-ins) to sift through and take what they wanted – like a frenzied sale at Century 21. The avaricious Ms. Amar was caught in the beach town of Surfside, in a hotel, with all the stolen goods laid out on her bed – replicating the iconic scene from “Danger: Diabolik,” just less Italian.
“The Half a Million Dollar Technicality” ($500k)
Sometimes procedures just get the best of you. When Colleton County, South Carolina sheriff’s deputies pulled over a vehicle for a small traffic infraction, they weren’t exactly expecting to find a boatload of stolen jewelry (mostly diamonds). But that’s just what happened; they even discovered standard burglar gear of ski masks and rubber gloves. However, since there was no direct evidence that the driver and his lil’ buddy had filched the jewels, they legally had to be let go. The diamonds found their way back to their rightful owner, but the thieves escaped scot free. The only justice being that a faulty tail light or other such automobile nonsense cost them half a mil.
“Going Out in Style” ($700k)
We can often be blinded by a pettifogger in Prada, especially when they present us with what seems like a golden career opportunity. A chichi London stylist, Ojuri ‘Charles’ Adesanya, 29, who in reality was suffering from intense financial woes, had a fool-proof plan: fake a photo shoot with a prominent publication (the exclusive Harper’s Bazaar) and get jewelry designers to lend their wares, so they can be proudly showcased – then simply hock said jewels and skip town. Not so smart when one of the designers in question is Jade Jagger (yes…a name with both alliteration and assonance – oh, and also the lead singer of the Rolling Stones’ daughter). In addition to the 50 thousand worth of jewelry that he snatched from her was another 650 from other designers, all promised to be part of the illustrious photo spread as well. End result: the chic charlatan was sentenced to four years in (an anything but stylish) slammer. A true win for the fashion police.
“Ex-Spy Exposed: Peruvian Punishment” ($1m)
This chap, former Peruvian Intelligence Chief Vladimiro Montesinos, makes the list primarily for the high position he held, and for the international level of exposure of his varied crimes – and the fun filled auction held after he was put away! Not sure how much of the million dollars in jewels (including some killer “VM” monogrammed diamond cuff links) were technically stolen, but they certainly were acquired through largely illegal means, as Señor M. was convicted of corruption, bribery, numerous human rights abuses and spearheading the creation of a death squad. Ay carumba. Once the auction is over and done with, the jewels will at least be in the hands of decent, law-abiding citizens…we can hope.
“Grifted from Graff” ($50m)
Here we have a very interesting case that raises the question: “Is possession really 9/10’s the law?” Spoiler alert: the answer is a resounding “NO.” When two suave looking, fitted suit adorned gunmen entered a deluxe London jewelry shop and clipped a 16 carat Graff diamond in 2007 (with a Bentley Continental getaway car, no less), the world took note . The globe traveling diamond later resurfaced in a pawn shop in the far away land of Hong Kong. The pawn shop owners, not content to just keep the darn thing, sent it in to the GIA offices in Manhattan (another adventure filled trek for the diamond), for verification of its authenticity. Well, what they ended up verifying was that the ginormous gem actually belonged to Graff Diamonds Ltd. (those pesky little inscription notes being the culprit). While they battle it out in open court, the diamond will inevitably end up back with Graff. The only question remaining is will Graff pay the pawnbrokers a sort of “finder’s fee,” seeing as how those shlubs had to pay for the diamond themselves – thus bringing it out from underground hiding and into the light again, free to sparkle its little heart out.
“Runaway Diamonds on the Runway” ($50m)
The final chapter of our reclaimed diamond chronicles centers around a truly cinematic heist for the ages. As a passenger plane on the tarmac of a Brussels airport waited for takeoff, two pseudo police vans motored right up the the aircraft, eight cop-clothes-clad dudes hopped out, cranked open the hold, poached 50 million smackers worth of uncut diamonds, and then drove off into the sunset, unscathed. The precision and efficiency with which this caper went off led authorities to believe it was an “inside job.” The Police found the suspects three months after the incident, along with the diamonds. A sort of anticlimactic finish to this daring and seemingly perfect diamond plundering, one message prevails: crime doesn’t pay. Well, unless they hadn’t been caught. Then it would’ve paid a LOT.
If these cautionary tales have not made you fully aware of the perils of diamond abduction, and you still are primed and ready to attempt a potentially profitable diamond robbery of your own, just remember: you’ve been forewarned. We’d also like to inform you that if you are planning on trying to steal diamonds from Diamond Lighthouse, you’ll just be wasting your time. Located on Fifth Avenue in the famed Diamond Tower, our offices are under 24 hour surveillance, 7 days a week. The security system here is impenetrable; we’re talking Fort Knox. Every diamond that we have in house is fully insured and vaulted before we present them to our vast collection of zealous diamond buyers. Equally safe and efficient is the method with which we ensure our clients receive payment for their diamonds.
The only real crime is that some people out there are still selling their diamonds to pawn shops, and not receiving the maximum amount of money that they would by selling through Diamond Lighthouse. Find out more.