Gerald Blanchard

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Gerald Daniel Blanchard
Born c. 1972
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[edit]

In 1998, Blanchard stole the Star of Empress Sisi, one of 27 diamond-and-pearl hair ornaments worn by 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 Palace grounds. Blanchard later said that he parachuted onto the Palace roof from a small airplane in the middle of the night to make the swap. A few days before the heist, he toured the palace 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 offered to turn the jewel over to police following his arrest in Canada on robbery and fraud charges. Blanchard took police to the Sisi Star where he had hidden it in his grandmother's basement in Winnipeg. In return for the Star and other information, Blanchard's co-accuseds would only receive conditional sentences. Blanchard never identified his accomplices in any of his global heists, and he was the only one to do serious prison time. The priceless Köchert Diamond Pearl 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 of robbery and fraud in Canada and elsewhere in the world. Blanchard faced a maximum of 164 years in prison for the sixteen charges to which he pleaded guilty but was sentenced to just eight years in prison in the Winnipeg court as part of a plea deal in which he cooperated with authorities and turned over the Köchert Diamond Pearl. He was paroled after serving fewer than two years.

After prison[edit]

In January 2010, Blanchard was released and was reported to be attempting to develop himself a new career as a security consultant.[1]

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.[2]

A book about Blanchard's infamous theft titled, Stealing Sisi's Star: How a master thief nearly got away with Austria's most famous jewel by journalist Jennifer Bowers Bahney details Empress Elisabeth of Austria's life, the history of the Star, and why it meant so much to Austria.[3]

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