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|Gerald Daniel Blanchard|
|Occupation||computer and security system expert|
|Criminal charge||theft, fraud|
|Criminal penalty||8 years prison (paroled after two years)|
|Conviction(s)||7 November 2007|
Gerald Daniel Blanchard is a Canadian criminal described by police as one of the most sophisticated criminal masterminds the country has ever seen, who orchestrated never seen before high tech crimes crossing 3 continents.
He orchestrated midnight robberies without violence and was never seen while cleaning out financial institutions at night.
Sisi Star Heist
In 1998, Blanchard stole the Star of Empress Sisi, a diamond-and-pearl piece of jewellery that belonged to Elisabeth of Bavaria, consort of Francis Joseph I, from the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria. Police thought that, accompanied by his wife and father-in-law posing as tourists, Blanchard disabled the alarm and replaced the jewel with a replica purchased at the souvenir shop. A parachute was found hidden near the Castle grounds. It was later discovered that Blanchard parachuted from a small airplane in the middle of the night to make the swap. A few days before the heist, he toured the castle with his wife and father-in-law while video recording the layout. Police recovered a video tape seized from one of the many raids of Blanchard's high-end properties he owned, leading up to the theft and the calculated planning. It took two weeks before the swap was discovered. The loss of a priceless part of Austria’s history remained unsolved until Blanchard admitted to the crime in court. Blanchard showed police where they could find the Pearl Diamond in his grandmother's basement in Winnipeg. In return for the Pearl Diamond Star, his co-accuseds would only receive conditional sentences. Blanchard never identified his accomplices in any of his global heists, and he was the only one sent to prison. The priceless famed Koechert Pearl Diamond was returned to Austria by a Canadian Crown Attorney in 2009.
Blanchard pled guilty at the Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba on 7 November 2007 to sixteen charges for his involvement in robberies and fraud in Canada and elsewhere in the world. Blanchard was sentenced to eight years in prison in the Winnipeg court. Blanchard faced a maximum of 164 years in prison for the sixteen charges to which he pleaded guilty.
In January 2010, Blanchard was released and was reported to be attempting to develop himself a new career as a security consultant.
On 22 March 2010, Wired Magazine posted an article online from their April 2010 issue called "Art of the Steal: On the Trail of the World's Most Ingenious Thief", written by Joshuah Bearman. The piece follows Blanchard's life profiling many of his heists, capture, prosecution and subsequent release.
- "Super-thief eyes career as security consultant". CBC news. 11 January 2010. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
- "Art of the Steal: On the Trail of World’s Most Ingenious Thief". Wired magazine. 22 March 2010. Retrieved 22 March 2010.
- Sentencing of Gerald Blanchard - CBC news story
-  - art hostage blogger says give Gerald Daniel Blanchard a Chance
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