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Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History [Paperback]

Scott Andrew Selby , Greg Campbell
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Feb. 7 2012

The heist of the century!

Ten years before the recent Brussels diamond theft, daring diamond thieves made off with gems worth almost twice as much. On February 15, 2003, thieves broke into an allegedly airtight vault in Antwerp, never tripping an alarm, and made off with over $108 million worth of diamonds and other valuables.

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 a mystery.

Scott Andrew Selby, a Harvard Law grad and diamond expert, and Greg Campbell, author of Blood Diamonds, embarked on a global chase to uncover the true story behind the stunning heist. Tracking the threads of the crime 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.

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Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History + Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures
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Praise for Flawless:

“Fans of caper books and movies will be in seventh heaven here.  …A must-read for true-crime fans.”
Booklist (Starred Review)
 “…a riveting narrative…” —Boston Globe

"...a fascinating chronicle...Like a finely cut gem, this well-polished, multifaceted book sparkles." --Publishers Weekly 
"Fans of true crime (especially those who appreciate less violence and no gore) and of crime caper movies will especially enjoy this fun romp." --Library Journal

"Exciting, well-crafted tale...Selby and Campbell (Blood Diamonds: Tracing The Deadly Path of the World's Most Precious Stones, 2002, etc.) provide an engrossing nonfiction thriller...an effective, well-researched collaboration, in which the classic heist story illustrates the seamy underbelly and criminal lure behind the bright facade of the diamond industry. Sure to appeal to armchair rogues and, like Blood Diamond, cinema-ready." -- Kirkus Reviews 

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

“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


“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


“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


“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


“[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

Flawless is flawless. This is a one-hundred carat gem of a book. Flawless is an incredible, true, page-turning account of a half-billion dollar diamond robbery—the boldest, most daring diamond theft in the world.”—J. North Conway, author of King of Heists

“The gripping story of an incredible crime. This tale of old-fashioned criminal enterprise has been told with a level of research that immerses you in a fascinating journey into the hidden world of diamond trading.”—Neil Forsyth, author of Other People's Money


“You could not invent a better crime story. From the very first step into that ransacked vault, Selby and Campbell have you.” —Kevin Krajick, author of Barren Lands


“A thoroughly modern and riveting tale of the world's biggest diamond heist.  With vivid storytelling and fascinating detail, Selby and Campbell piece together every step of mastermind Leonardo Notarbartolo's plan, and the investigation that left detectives dumbfounded.  Full of intrigue and suspense, Flawless is a terrific read.”—Gilbert King, author of The Execution of Willie Francis

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. Greg Campbell is an award-winning journalist and the author of Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World's Most Precious Stones and The Road to Kosovo: A Balkan Diary.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It is All in the Planning Aug. 31 2011
By Jeffrey Swystun TOP 50 REVIEWER
Whenever I read books that profile professional thieves and their "successes", I wonder what their lives would be like if they pursued an honest line of work. The bandits in Flawless are members of a group of professional thieves known as The School of Turin. They employ incredible strategic planning and cunning to accomplish the seemingly impossible. This is actually two books in one: the story of the heist and one of the diamond industry itself and both are fascinating. In fact, Hollywood could not have written a better fictional script. The detail the authors provide accurately mirrors the meticulous planning that Italian jewel thief Leonardo Notarbartolo employed. Yet, the detail does not limit the excitement, suspense, and grudging respect that must be paid to both the bad (and good guy's) dedication to their roles.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  58 reviews
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Flawless" is Flawless Feb. 8 2010
By ScanMyPhotos - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History.

You can't help but read this book non-stop. The details, action and polished descriptions are riveting.

I read Flawless right away, as soon as it arrived from Amazon. I couldn't put it down. It reads like "Devil in the White City"--true crime come to life! No one dies in this book, but it still was an exciting read. And I learned about diamonds. Can't wait for seeing what I read in the theaters - it too will be a blockbuster.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating tale! Feb. 17 2010
By Inspired Reader - Published on Amazon.com
I absolutely could not put this book down! Flawless is, well, flawless. If you love true crime, can't pull yourself away from cop dramas, and are a fan of espionage tales, then this book is for you.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect caper.......flawless Feb. 18 2010
By Robert Busko - Published on Amazon.com
Scott Selby and Greg Campbell's Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History is a nail biting, page turning romp through a real life caper. You may not recognize Selby's name, but Greg Campbell wrote Blood Diamonds, a pretty good read in itself. It is hard not to compare Flawless to Ocean's Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen although the comparison is unfair. Flawless actually happened. These movies were just made up glitz; interesting, but made up none the less.

The nighttime theft happened Valentines weekend, 2003 when the thieves broke into the Diamond Center in Antwerp. The Diamond Center isn't Fort Know, but it was guarded by every security device one could think of; round the clock gaurds, motion and vibration sensors, and an 18 steel vault door and locks requiring multiple keys and combinations. While the author's tell us a lot about the crime, who committed it, and how it was done, certain aspects are left unreported. How the actual vault door was compromised, for example is missing. I suspect this is to be expected. The authors also examine the diamond industry, literally from top to bottom.

Well researched and told in a "novelistic" manner, Flawless is one book you have to read, especially if you're a true crime fan.

I highly recommend this page turner and time burner. You'll enjoy it.

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is cool - and it sparkles Feb. 9 2010
By J. Dreyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What a treat to read about a real-life theft more astounding than any invented for tv or movies. The School of Turin, as the diamond thieves are known, really pulled off the crime of all crimes, and I found I had to keep reading to find out how they did it...and what happened to them afterwards (wow). In the process I gained insight into the fascinating world of the diamond trade, and learned about the gems themselves and the political and humanitarian issues surrounding their mining. The writing is excellent, the story unbelievable! - I truly looked forward to the time I could spend with this book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dazzling Gem with an Exquisite Setting Feb. 26 2010
By Librarian - Published on Amazon.com
Readers will devour Flawless, Union Square Press' sparkling new non-fiction title. Within the pages, authors Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell (Blood Diamonds) detail the events surrounding the greatest diamond heist in history.

Half a billion dollars in gems boosted from an impenetrable underground vault within Antwerp's locked down diamond district?

Oh yeah, I'm all over this one.

A rich veneer of history overlays the narrative. With focus and clarity, Flawless examines not only the oft politicized roots of diamond industry but also the origins of the gems themselves. As the world's most liquid commodity, for centuries these jewels have been mined and funneled into the pockets of tycoons and tyrants alike.

Millions of dollars worth of carats are passed from hand to hand...and it all happens in Belgium, baby. Antwerp rose to prominence over a century to become the center of world diamond trade. The book thoroughly explores the dichotomy between Antwerp's moneyed diamond district and the surrounding tourist infested streets before transporting the reader to the backrooms and back alleys of Turin, Italy, a haven for mystics and thieves.

While the locales are in intriguing enough by themselves, the criminal masterminds responsible for the heist hijack the reader's attention. Leonardo Notarbartolo and his gang of thieves are anything but the usual suspects; the "School of Turin" makes Danny Ocean's crew look like small time crooks.

Flawless outshines most of the historical capers I've seen on the shelves. You'll want to snag a copy. The execution of the premise is THAT good. Even though the loot has never been recovered, you'll enjoy slipping into the shadows to follow the footsteps of the suspects.
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