(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.
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.