Brink’s heist saga: How do you fence stolen gems worth millions? Inside the jewelry black market
The story of how a jeweler was robbed and his house of diamond jewelry was later returned to the owner is a great tale of American dreams and greed – the story of the so-called heist.
But it’s also a cautionary tale of how the theft of gemstones can create chaos in the lives of the people that own them. How does a high-minded, rich man like Steven Brill get robbed blind and, ultimately, have only a handful of diamond engagement rings?
Brill’s story starts with a robbery, but not a “heist” — a jeweler’s sense of humor. He actually never intended to “fence” the gems, as it wasn’t his idea in the first place. In the late 1990s, Brill was in the jewelry business with his friend Dave Johnson, who owned a company that made custom-engineered gemstones. Brill’s goal was to sell the stones through his company — he’d eventually found a buyer and paid the seller, but Brill wanted his jewelry back.
Johnson had just had a heart attack and was in the hospital, so Brill decided it would make a great investment for “our business.”
The idea was to fence the diamonds with a fence, and use the money to finance the rest of the inventory by selling them for more than they’ve already been sold for.
Johnson’s heart was no match for Brill’s entrepreneurial spirit, so Brill took the diamond he had just purchased at a jeweler’s shop and decided to return to his office. He had a back-alley meeting with another jeweler, and Brill suggested an idea: he wanted to use a new computer program to digitize his gems and sell them on the Internet.
The jeweler, and Brill, both laughed, and Brill explained that he never intended to fence the diamonds. Brill’s plan was simply to sell them.
Johnson came up with the idea to use Brill’s name on the computer program,