Barracuda Queens: Is the Swedish Series Based on a True Heist Story?

Created by Camilla Ahlgren, Netflix’s ‘Barracuda Queens’ is a Swedish crime-drama series. Set in 1995 in Stockholm, the plot revolves around a group of young Djursholm women from affluent and privileged backgrounds who commit a series of burglaries on their rich and annoying neighbors. Lollo (Alva Bratt), Klara (Tindra Monsen), Frida (Sandra Strandberg Zubovic), and Mia (Tea Stjärne) call themselves the “Barracuda Queens” as they spend time partying on the Barracuda Beach. After incurring a considerable bill for their wild lifestyle, the four friends decide to break into the house of their new neighbor, Amina (Sarah Gustafsson).

Even though things don’t turn out as the girls initially intended, Amina reveals that she has no desire to report the girls to the authorities. Instead, she wants to join them. ‘Barracuda Queens’ uses the 90s girl power trope as the setting, focusing on characters who are diligent students and loving daughters by day and ruthless and adventurous criminals by night. As the series progresses, the series explores themes such as liberation, exploitation, and revenge. If you wonder whether ‘Barracuda Queens’ is inspired by actual events, we have you covered.

Barracuda Queens: Young Women’s Heist in 1995 Stockholm

‘Barracuda Queens’ is based on a true story, but very loosely. Series creator Camilla Ahlgren shares writing credits for the show with Veronica Zacco, Tove Forsman, and Sofie Forsman. According to Fatima Varhos, one-half of the indie production company, Asp Varhos, ‘Barracuda Queens’ is an original concept. “Basically, we were having dinner with Camilla Ahlgren, and the three of us started to brainstorm ideas. Fatima said she liked heist series, with girls in the lead. Then a year ago, we chatted with Netflix – they said we’d like to do a heist type of series, and we said – we have something!” Varhos’ partner, Frida Asp, stated in an interview with the Nordisk Film & TV Fond.

‘Barracuda Queens’ is inspired by the real-life burglaries committed by a group named the Lidingöligan, which was almost exclusively made up of young men from affluent and privileged backgrounds. In the adaptation process, the real-life male individuals were changed to women, but their backgrounds remained unchanged. Asp and Varhos also reportedly drew references from their upbringing for the series. Primarily active in the late 1990s, the Lidingöligan burgled houses in Stockholm’s wealthy municipalities, including Lidingö, Djursholm, Östermalm, and Danderyd.

The gang stole etchings by Anders Zorn, lithographs signed by Marc Chagall and Pablo Picasso, expensive wines, exclusive collectibles, and pricy antiques. Comprising six individuals, it got its name because most members were from Lidingö. In 2000, a part of the group was arrested. Its leader was reportedly convicted of a large-scale burglary, receiving a four-and-a-half-year sentence for using a false document, false representation, and weapons offenses. The authorities found a large portion of the stolen goods in Tidaholm, where some members of his family resided.

According to the Swedish daily newspaper Aftonbladet, the Lidingöligan had been active for about two decades as of 2012. Just like the girls in the show, the Lidingöligan members sometimes used to make toasts with expensive champagne or wine and leave the empty glasses and bottles as calling cards. In 2004, French-Swedish author and journalist Jan Guillou published his book on the Lidingöligan, titled ‘Tjuvarnas marknad,’ and dedicated a copy to the head of the Lidingö gang, who since had become an Östermalm-based entrepreneur and owned several companies.

In October 2010, the said entrepreneur, then 46, was arrested after burglars broke into Guillou’s home a month earlier and stole his Hamilton medals and several bottles from his wine collection. In the typical Lidingöligan fashion, they toasted the author with a bottle of champagne and departed after emptying it. “I sign several thousand books a year. The fact is, however, that this book was at the leader’s home with a dedication, where I thanked him for the tips and help,” Jan Guillou said in an interview with the Swedish evening newspaper Expressen after the arrest.

Other members of the Lidingöligan have since become successful in finance and real estate. The group also reportedly broke into the homes of former SAS chief Jan Carlzon and late attorney Henning Sjöström. In 2014, it seems that the entrepreneur mentioned above was tried for embezzlement after the authorities discovered a stolen car in a barn in Tidaholm. The Audi RS6 Avant car was stolen alongside a second luxury vehicle from the home of a billionaire in Djursholm in the summer of 2008. In 2016, the same man, or another Lidingöligan member of the same age, was arrested on suspicion of involvement in a failed drug smuggling attempt. All in all, the Netflix series takes inspiration from the real Lidingöligan and mixes fiction into it to create an engaging tale.

Read More: Where is Netflix’s Barracuda Queens Filmed?