(From left: Blanchard at age 8; with his then-wife and father-in-law in Vienna, 1998; Blanchard's girlfriend enjoying his proceeds in 2006. Photos: Courtesy of Gerald Blanchard)
Joshuah Bearman wrote a terrific article in the new issue of Wired called "Art of the Steal: On the Trail of World’s Most Ingenious Thief." Here's how he described it to me:
It's an epic tale about a cat burglar slash jewel thief slash all around criminal mastermind named Gerald Blanchard. By high school, the dude managed to become a local king-pin and escape from jail (twice!) and later went on to establish a wide-ranging criminal enterprise, fueled by a savant-like technological savvy that enabled him to, say, knock off banks in the night without leaving a trace. He once parachuted from a plane on to the roof of the castle and stole some beloved Habsburg jewels -- no joke! That's the kind of dude he is. And yet, Blanchard didn't quite look the part of a criminal mastermind, as you can tell by his pictures, some of which are in the piece, along with some extra photos on my blog.Art of the Steal: On the Trail of World’s Most Ingenious Thief
Looking more like the student volunteer at the school computer center, Blanchard seems an unlikely guy to be at the center of a fifteen-year career of badass heists. And badass they were. For years, Blanchard dodged authorities while escalating the sophistication and scope of his crimes. Eventually, though, he made a mistake. And that mistake was exploited by Mitch McCormick and Larry Levasseur, two small town cops from Winnipeg, who picked up a cold case on a local burglary and wound up unraveling Blanchard's whole network. It's a crazy story, and I figure you'd like it. There's excitement, intrigue, parachuting in, and swapping the jewels from a weighted alarm, Indiana Jones-style. But that's not all! Jet-plane getaways, money stuffed beneath burqas, police impersonations, and yachting with the prince of Monaco.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.