Thursday, June 17, 2010


Publisher's Summary. 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 caf├ęs 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.

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.


  1. Wow, that sounds exciting! Putting it on the list now. Thanks for the excellent review.
    Have a great week and happy reading!

  2. Sounds like a fascinating book. I hadn't heard of it until your review, and you've definitely made me curious.


  3. I agree, that does sound interesting. I'm glad I stumbled upon your review. Nice blog by the way. I will have to drop by more often.