Everybody Loves Diamonds is Based on a Real Heist. Here Are the Details.

Prime Video’s ‘Everybody Loves Diamonds’ is a thrilling tale that follows a group of small-time Italian thieves, led by Leonardo Notarbartolo, who come up with a master plan to steal precious stones worth millions of dollars from a diamond center. With their genius, the group orchestrates a heist and takes away valuable gems by tricking the lop-level security at the center.

The Italian drama series is directed by Gianluca Maria Tavarelli and features impressive performances by Kim Rossi Stuart, Johan Heldenbergh, Synnøve Macody Lund, Remo Girone, Jean Janssens, and Issam Dakka. The authentic portrayal of the events of the heist and the convincing act by the cast members make one wonder if ‘Everybody Loves Diamonds’ is based on a true story. Here is everything you need to know about the inspiration behind the show.

Everybody Loves Diamonds is Based on the Antwerp Diamond Heist

The series showcases a real robbery: the Antwerp Diamond Heist which took place in Antwerp, Belgium in 2003. The incident is adapted into a screenplay by writers Michele Astori, Bernardo Pellegrini, Giulio Carrieri, and Stefano Bises. To make the show more entertaining and engaging, the makers have added a comedic twist to the real story.

Coming to the heist, the incident took place in Antwerp, Belgium, a city synonymous with diamonds, in February 2003. The task was carried out by Leonardo Notarbartolo and his team of four thieves who were given the aliases “Speedy,” “The Monster,” “The Genius,” and “The King of Keys.” Notarbartolo, the mastermind behind the plan, employed a novel technique to gain access to the heavily fortified building of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, where he rented an office for around $700 per month.

Notarbartolo, posing as an Italian diamond merchant, effectively became a tenant, which granted him a 24-hour access ID card, which was crucial for the heist. Over eighteen months, the group meticulously planned the operation, using several ingenious strategies to deceive the security systems. The group conducted a surveillance check of the center, even planting a hidden camera to record the vault’s security procedures. Notarbartolo, using frequent visits as his cover, managed to spray thermal security sensors with hair spray the day before the heist without arousing suspicion.

On the day of the robbery, the team made their move, using lock-picking skills and homemade devices to disable and bypass various security measures. They even replicated the vault key and stripped wires to prevent alarms from triggering and were successful in escaping with loose diamonds, gold, silver, and other types of jewelry worth $100 million. The robbery received widespread media attention and is termed the “heist of the century.”

Notarbartolo was eventually apprehended, thanks to a half-eaten salami sandwich found near the scene, which yielded DNA evidence. He was sentenced to ten years in prison but was released on parole in 2009. However, his parole was revoked in 2011 due to his failure to compensate the heist’s victims. He was arrested once again in 2013 and served the remainder of his sentence until 2017. Speedy, The Monster, and The Genius received a sentence of five years each, while the fifth member, The King of Keys, escaped the authorities and was never arrested. Most of the diamonds stolen by the group still remain unrecovered.

The producers of the series, Mario Gianani and Lorenzo Gangarossa revealed that the people involved in the real events served as consultants on the show. “A story based on an incredible heist, conducted decades ago by normal people with normal lives; people that could be your neighbors. Moreover, we are lucky to have consultants in the team involved in the real events. We believe they will help us successfully and accurately bring the story to life,” the duo said in their official statement. Hence, ‘Everybody Loves Diamonds’ is based on a real heist that shook the world in 2003.

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