Jewelry Heists · Viking Hoards · Dorothy Stratten

Plus Olympics cheats, and Olivia Jade and Jada

Fiiiive goooold riiiiings…an embarrassment of riches, as it were, for the fifth day of 12 Days Of Best Evidence, or so it would seem. I’d originally had it in mind to talk about an attempt to rob Fort Knox, but discovered in the course of researching that apparently nobody’s ever bothered…which was part of the point of its design. Business Insider has a fun explainer about what we know about the Kentucky fortress (i.e., not a whole lot), from which I learned that a number of priceless international documents bunked therein during World War II.

So, let’s switch our focus to the “rings” part, and jewelry heists — like the Green Vault robbery, in which two thieves broke into Dresden’s Green Vault in November of last year and made off with a billion-dollar haul. Head to CNN’s list of notorious jewel grabs to see where the Green Vault job fit in…at least, as of a few days after the robbery. The case continued to unfold over the course of 2020; authorities concluded it was an inside job earlier this year, and made three arrests just last month. Read more in this highly informative piece at DW.com:

Prosecutors indicated the suspects belong to the "Berlin clan network," an organized crime syndicate. One of the suspects had already been convicted for the theft of a 100-kilogram (220 pound) gold coin called the "Big Maple Leaf," which was taken from the Bode museum in Berlin in 2017.

It was valued at roughly €3.8 million ($4.4 million). The thieves had used a wheelbarrow to move the coin to their getaway car. It was an inside job: A freshly hired security guard was discovered to have been in on the theft.

A mothereffing WHEELBARROW. Love it.

But if we’re going to talk about five rings and crime, we have to talk about the Olympics, and our esteemed correspondent Margaret Howie mentioned 30 For 30’s “9.79,” and while it might not seem to qualify as a crime, I’ll allow it (plus I’ve seen it twice and it’s really good):

In the history of the Olympics, there's never been a controversy quite like what ensued over the 100 meter race at Seoul in 1988. The match brought together Carl Lewis (USA) and Ben Johnson (Canada) who had been fierce competitors. Lewis was known as a savvy careerist who became an American hero at the previous Los Angeles Olympics. Johnson was his chief rival, considered an underdog due to his recovery from a pulled hamstring. In less than 10 seconds, Johnson edged out in front of Lewis to win the Seoul race. But that wasn't the end. Three days later, in a reversal of fortune, the Olympic committee announced that Johnson had failed a drug test, losing his medal to Lewis in disgrace. A mystery still shrouds the race. Was Johnson exceptional in his drug usage or merely the fall guy for a widespread practice? Six of the eight finalists in the 1988 race have since been implicated for drugs -- although some still deny any wrongdoing. 

And of course there’s Erin Lee Carr’s At The Heart Of Goldand, if you’d like to marinate in some Olympian tragedy but just can’t with Nassar’s monstrous crimes, there’s the 30 For 30 on the Kerrigan-Harding contretemps, “The Price Of Gold.”

There are so many candidates for this day (the Five Families…), but we’d love to hear yours, too. — SDB

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If you “detectorists” in the UK find a Viking hoard and don’t declare it, you might wind up in this feature next year. Rebecca Mead’s piece from the November 16 New Yorker talks about the literal buried treasure found by “metal-detector hobbyists” George Powell and Layton Davies in 2015 — which did include a gold ring! — which “was worth a fortune” but “became a curse” when the two men failed to obey the Treasure Act and submit their haul to a local Finds Liaison Officer. Mead also gets into fun process-y detail about how the Treasure Act came to be, why Vikings buried caches of treasure (and why they might have failed to come back for them), and how these hoards contain crucial insights into Anglo-Saxon history. — SDB


It’s a bit of a shorter edition today, for reasons I’ll explain later. But if you, like me, are behind on your holiday shopping, might I suggest a paid subscription to this newsletter?

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Olivia Jade Giannulli is going the redemption-tour route with Red Table Talk. What I don’t know about Facebook Watch period is a lot, never mind RTT, although I did know that it’s Jada Pinkett Smith, daughter Willow, and mother “Gammy” talking about “important and provocative topics.” Not sure how “important” it is to make sure OJG, the “influencer” whose parents, Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli, are currently incarcerated thanks to trying to get her into college, understands how unchecked privilege brought us all to this place…and based on her face in that snap, Gammy agrees with me. In fact, Gammy didn’t want Olivia on RTT at all, based on the highlights transcript the show’s PR team helpfully sent over to me yesterday:

You know, I fought it tooth and nail. I just found it really ironic that she chose three Black women to reach out to for her redemption story. I feel like here we are, [a] white woman coming to Black women for support when we don’t get the same from them. It’s just, it’s bothersome to me on so many levels. Her being here is the epitome of white privilege to me.

Gammy goes pretty hard at Olivia, with Jada kind of trying to bridge the gap all “oh but she gets it now, right, and now she can be the change!”…the dynamic of it is really interesting, because Gammy’s basically saying she needs Olivia and other kids like her to not need her to sign off on their awakenings? Not to paraphrase the lady when you can watch it yourself, which even if you avoid FB content might be worth doing. — SDB


As someone who thinks Star 80 is an underappreciated film — but can’t “recommend” it because it’s so difficult to watch — I’m very curious about Wondery’s latest, Death Of A Starlet: The Murder of Dorothy Stratten. Two episodes dropped today, and if you belong to Wondery+ you can listen to the other four as well; if any of you guys have listened, pop down to the comments and let me know if it’s worth my time.

Worth YOUR time is Teresa Carpenter’s 40-year-old piece from the Village Voice, “Death of a Playmate,” which won the 1981 Pulitzer for feature writing and which Bob Fosse based Star 80 on.


Thursday on Best Evidence: Geese! Geragos! Gosh, Staten Island is weird!


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