Huge Diamond Heist, It Must Have Been the Jews

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I love heist movies (Bank Job, Inside Man, Ocean’s 11 etc) and heist books (The Great Train Robbery and anything by Richard Stark) and I love reading about paintings and jewels that are ripped off from banks and museums in fantastic ways. Wired magazine is running a story right now about a $100 million heist in the Antwerp Diamond District. The story details the plan of an Italian man named Leonardo Notarbartolo and his accomplices (guys referred to as the Monster, the Genius, the King of Keys, and Speedy) as they pull off an absolutely amazing heist at the behest of a diamond dealer. Here’s how the article’s author, Joshua Davis, details the seeds of the heist being planted:ff_diamonds2_f.jpg

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. [Notarbartolo] 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.

“I’d like to hire you for a robbery,” he said. “A big robbery.”

Full Story

I encourage you to go read the whole story for yourself, but what’s important to know for my purposes is that Notarbartolo is successful in robbing the vault, but it turns out that the diamond dealer lied to him about how much was in the vault at the time, so Notarbartolo and his buddies walked off with significantly less money than they had intended. Also, they got caught.

What struck me about this story was that it seems to me to implicitly support stereotypes about Jews in an irresponsible and wholly unnecessary way. That the dealer who approached Notarbartolo was Jewish is never mentioned again, and certainly his Judaism is not an issue the article wishes to explore, it just wants to point out that the man who got this whole robbery and diamond scheme off the ground was a Jew, and that that guy turned out to be untrustworthy.

I just don’t see how the guy’s Judaism is relevant. Why is it included in the piece? If the guy had been Indian, would that have been mentioned? If he had been Catholic, would that have been an issue? Of course not.

I really don’t think that this was intended as a piece of anti-Semitic propaganda, and I’m not normally the kind of person who sees Jew haters everywhere I go, but for some reason this struck a chord for me. Read the article, and decide for yourself. Also, if you’re planning a heist of any kind, please give me a call. I’m great with nicknames and I promise not to get you cheezed even though I’m Jewish.

Posted on March 18, 2009

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