DISCLAIMER: In no way is this blog intended to advocate theft--museum theft or otherwise. It is pure speculation in the interests of character-based research.
The museum heist. It's a staple of cat-burglar fiction, from Entrapment
to even one of the Pink Panther
sequels. It's been done and done and done
And of course, Selina's pulled her fair share of museum jobs. She's the world's greatest cat burglar--at least, within the confines of the DC comics universe. But just because she's the greatest doesn't necessarily mean she doesn't put any thought into what she's doing.
Today, we're going to play a little game called "This, Not That".
When planning a museum heist, what do you go for? What's the biggest payoff? What's the easiest route to take?
Today, we're going to plan a heist. But not just any heist. We're gonna plan to knock off the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History--the place where the Hope Diamond is kept.
But we're NOT going to steal the Hope Diamond.
"But, Dr. Von Fangirl," you ask, "isn't that the whole point of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History?"
Well, invisible interjector, for some, perhaps, but not for us. And not for Selina. Aside from the fact that the Hope Diamond is supposedly cursed
(not that we're the cowardly or superstitious types, oh no), it's housed inside this:
What that photo doesn't show you is the series of video cameras and electronic eyes scattered all over the room. The glass case the gem is kept in is also pressure and weight sensitive, there's no way in from above (no matter what the movies may try to tell you) and there are no entrances or exits to the second floor room that aren't protected by security measures--not even an air vent.
"Well, darn," you say. "Is it impossible to steal from the Smithsonian?"
Nope. In fact, it's happened before--and recently, not sixty years ago when it was 'easier' to steal from a museum if you had the right tools and know-how. A series of fossils were stolen--and not just one or two, but nearly a dozen
. So it's possible--so long as you choose your target wisely.
When wandering the Smithsonian the handful of times I've been there (as research for this piece, I assure you. Ahem.) it's impossible not to note that some exhibits are better secured than others--even on the second floor, where the gems and mineral exhibits are kept.
The layout of the museum is this: the Hope Diamond room leads into a room of similarly valuable mounted stones--pieces by Harry Winston and Cartier, etc.--which then gives way to a room filled with huge display cases of precious and semi-precious stones--both loose and mounted--before finally giving way to the rocks, metals and other minerals displays.
Now, we've already established that the Hope Diamond is a poor target for us. What about the other jewelry the Smithsonian houses? There are dozens of valuable pieces--both from a historic and monetary standpoint. From Marie Antionette's earrings to a diadem worn by Napoleon's wife Josephine, there's a literal treasure trove of pieces that are more than worth their weight in gold.
There's even 'The Mystery Diamond'--a diamond of unknown origin that is on display:
But, aside from the fact we're not
the Riddler (because really, that would be so
his style), these gems--valuable though they are--are almost as much of a hassle to get to as the Hope Diamond. Each piece of jewelry--with only a couple of exceptions (as shown above) are kept in separate sealed cases with each case boasting what appears to be a series of electronic eyes and
pressure sensitive glass. While one of these pieces may fetch a pretty penny on the black market, it's a lot of risk for what is--in the long run--not much reward.
But what other options are there?
Why, the room beyond with all the raw gems, of course!
"But," you say, brow furrowing in confusion, "those aren't shiny and pretty and faceted and from Cartier!"
Well, actually, invisible interjector: they are.
Amidst all the raw gem stones--the huge chunks of Amethyst and Quartz that are unpolished--are hundreds
of loose, faceted gems--including dozens of diamonds AND jewelry.
What these pictures don't show you is that each display case houses dozens
of gems behind a single
piece of glass. This includes the diamond display where several faceted gems of unbelievable clarity and quality reside. Here's an example of one of the cases:
In that example, I see at least ten faceted stones/jewelry settings. That's a lot of payoff for very little effort, don't you think?
In half the time it would take to break into the Hope Diamond case--were it ever deemed possible--or one of the cases that holds a pair of Harry Winston earrings, you could crack open each and every one of the loose mineral cases, pick out all the most precious loose faceted stones and pieces of jewelry and be well on your way out the door.
And if you're feeling especially greedy, you can even duck around to the raw minerals display and take every single piece of raw gold
And can you imagine the museum curator's reaction to the break-in the next morning?
"Sir, we've had a theft."
"Oh no! Is the Hope Diamond safe?"
"Then what did they get?"
Not only is it a massive payoff, it's a statement
. The kind of statement that I think our beloved Catwoman might like to make:
"Sure, I could take the Hope Diamond if I really wanted to...but everyone goes for that
. I'll just completely clean you out instead."
Of course, the question of fencing the goods is bound to come up--but unlike a high profile item like the Hope Diamond, it's possible to just sit on any of the pieces you can't fence immediately. Gems don't go sour like milk, after all, and there's always a buyer somewhere in the world looking for what you've got.
Next time on "Think Like Selina Kyle", we discuss handcuffs and how to escape them.
Or maybe, Art: You Wanna Be a Cat Burglar? You Better Know Your Shit.
Or maybe even Whip Cracking: The Finer Art of Not Smacking Yourself in the Face Accidentally.