Is The Jewel Thief A True Story
Is The Jewel Thief A True Story -: A documentary titled The Jewel Thief that debuts on Hulu on July 13 explores the life of Gerald Blanchard, once dubbed the “world’s most ingenious thief.” The movie explores Blanchard’s intricate, multidecade criminal career, which spanned the globe, in addition to the story of the investigators who eventually apprehended him.
When Blanchard made global headlines in 2007 for returning an Austrian crown diamond known as the Sisi Star that he had stolen in 1998, filmmaker Landon Van Soest first became aware of him. Van Soest sought to learn more about Blanchard and his misdeeds than was initially apparent while producing the documentary. According to him, there was a lifetime of criminal desire and ambition for him. “When I dug into it, I realized that [the jewel] was just the tip of the iceberg,” he tells TIME. He kept progressing to these bigger, more intricate, more sophisticated series of heists.
The documentary’s subject, Blanchard, is proud of his contentious ascent. In the movie, he explains, “My tale is probably quite compelling because everyone wishes they could do the things I’ve done. People often have dreams about stealing from banks when they are young. Most people probably have this fantasy, but they don’t actually act on it as I did.
Who is Gerald Blanchard?
Before relocating to Omaha, Nebraska with his mother and sister, Blanchard, who was born in 1972, spent his formative years in Canada. Blanchard’s mother, Carol Phegly, recalled that he was a shy child who enjoyed disassembling electronics. She states in the movie, “If he had told me he’d be a mastermind international thief, I would have blown it off.”
In The Jewel Thief, Blanchard’s memories are interspersed with those of people he knew, proving him to be an unreliable narrator with a propensity for exaggeration. In the movie, he claims that as a child, he stole milk from his neighbors, escaped a heist by jumping out of a plane, and dodged a media frenzy. Others in the documentary, such as Blanchard’s mother, who recall the same events in less imaginative detail, dispute these claims.
In the film, Blanchard’s old instructors and close friends from his youth recall him, mentioning his fixation with attention and being in the spotlight. The majority of Blanchard’s life was captured on video cameras, including his criminal acts, which contributed to his eventual downfall.
Van Soest claims that while some of the details in Blanchard’s stories were inaccurate, many of his most astounding encounters rang true for all of the people interviewed for the movie. We really wanted to let him tell those stories while also trying, where we could, to call bullsh-t.
When a bank tried to foreclose on the Nebraska home that Blanchard and his family shared, it soured his early interactions with banks. In the film, he claims, “I’ve always had this grudge against the banks.” He would go on to rob banks, finding excitement in the difficulty of carrying out complicated crimes—and emerging as a well-known personality.
A stolen Austrian gem is the result of a life of pickpocketing and bank robberies.
When Blanchard was a youngster, he first ventured into shoplifting and pickpocketing jewelry and other items. After that, he started stealing electronics and fabricating bogus receipts for his looted stuff, but he was still not pleased. I asked myself, “Why am I working so hard for so little when I can just get the money from a bank?”
After starting more complex schemes, Blanchard was apprehended at the age of 15 and accused of grand theft. After being released after three months, Blanchard resumed stealing and began earning a sizable sum of money; the movie claims that Blanchard had $100,000 hidden in waste bags and had purchased a home at the age of 16.
Before being deported to Canada in 1997, Blanchard twice avoided capture by driving away in a police car and crawling through the ceiling of a police station.
“I could have quit long ago, but sometimes you just need that rush. Because I’ve received tens of millions of money throughout my life and I still continued doing crimes, it’s basically an addiction, he claims in the documentary.
In what is undoubtedly his most famous robbery, Blanchard stole a priceless jewel from the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna in 1998 and replaced it with a duplicate from a souvenir shop. The jewel belonged to Empress Elisabeth of Austria. In the movie, Blanchard claims that stealing the jewel was a component of a larger scheme; he intended to use it as a bargaining chip for more crimes while dealing with the law. Plus, he continues, it looked good.
In Winnipeg, Canada, a Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) ATM was due to open, and Blanchard managed to successfully steal roughly $500,000 from it. It was one of many financial crimes he had committed at the time, but it would ultimately be the cause of his downfall. The same evening, a Walmart worker who was positioned close to the bank noticed the car Blanchard had been driving. Due to the fact that the car was rented in Blanchard’s name, detectives had access to wiretap his phone and follow his every move.
In 2007, authorities apprehended and detained Blanchard after a failed criminal career in Egypt and Europe and a persistent probe into the CIBC heist by Canadian detectives. His former partner, Angela James, helped the authorities.
Blanchard meticulously researched every action he took prior to being apprehended, but his sins would eventually catch up with him. It’s like playing a game of chess. Your freedom is gone after one mistake, he warned.
What has become of Blanchard?
Blanchard cooperated with the police after being apprehended, confessing to his crimes and detailing them in precise detail. He surrendered the prized Sisi Star that he had been keeping in his grandmother’s Winnipeg house.
The video claims that Blanchard was charged with 16 counts of theft and fraud and could receive a sentence as high as 164 years in prison. His sentence was lowered to eight years in prison when he admitted to his crimes, turned over the Sisi Star, and paid the CIBC all of his reparations. No prison sentences were given to Blanchard’s collaborators as a condition of his guilty plea.
After his release on April 23, 2012, Blanchard went on to create a public image, detailing his bizarre crimes and appearing in numerous books and documentaries about his life. “I won because the public character and image they helped me build helped me get where I am now. So I was a superstar in prison,” he claims.
In later years, Blanchard continued to engage in criminal activity. He and an accomplice were detained in 2017 for stealing PlayStations from an Ontario Best Buy. Similar to the CIBC theft, investigators linked Blanchard to the crime since a car was rented in his name and was found at the location.
It’s not entirely surprising, a detective who looked into the case that led to Blanchard’s imprisonment claims in the movie. He says, “I believe the desire to dominate is definitely still present.
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