In this episode, retired Kansas City Police Intelligence Unit detective Gary Jenkins dives into the thrilling story of two master thieves from Chicago, Jerry the Monk Scalise and Art the Brain Rachel. These notorious criminals were part of the infamous Wild Bunch and were involved in various criminal activities in Chicago. However, their story takes an interesting turn when they fly to London in 1980 to steal the famous Marlboro Diamond, a massive 45-carat diamond.
Lawrence Graff, the owner of Graff’s Jewelry Store in Knightsbridge, London, had acquired a reputation for luxury jewelry and had famous diamonds like the Emperor Maximilian and Idol Eye in his collection. In 1980, he purchased the Marlboro Diamond, which had an intriguing history as it originally belonged to Gladys Marie Spencer Churchill, the wife of the 9th Duke of Marlboro.
On September 11th, 1980, two men, eventually revealed as Jerry “the Monk” Scalise and Art “the Brain” Rachel, entered Graff’s store to assess its security measures. Two days later, they returned dressed in suits that allowed them easy access. Armed with a gun and what appeared to be a hand grenade, they threatened the security guard and swiftly grabbed the Marlboro Diamond along with other valuable pieces from the display.
Unbeknownst to the thieves, Colin Prothero, an alert accountant on his lunch break, and his girlfriend witnessed their suspicious behavior and promptly informed the authorities about the incident. Prothero even managed to jot down the license plate of their getaway car, which turned out to be a rental from Hertz at Heathrow Airport.
While the thieves made a hasty escape, the alert account followed them on foot through the bustling streets of London without being noticed. He observed their every move and noted important details that aided the investigation.
Meanwhile, the owner of Graff’s store had already called the police, and London detectives were on their way. The car was rented in the names of Joseph Scalise and Art Rachel, who had checked into the Mount Royal Hotel. The hotel staff confirmed their presence on September 4th, indicating that the thieves had meticulously planned their crime.
The detectives began checking flight manifests at the airport and discovered that Scalise and Rachel were on a British Airways flight bound for Chicago. The cunning thieves had already taken a cab to the airport and even sent a package along the way, leaving witnesses who remembered their actions. Scotland Yard swiftly contacted the Chicago police, who intercepted and arrested the thieves upon their arrival. Jerry “the Monk” Scalise and Art “the Brain” Rachel They were extradited to London, where the court convicted them based on eyewitness testimonies and additional evidence. Both Scalise and Rachel received 15-year sentences in a British prison.
To this day, neither of the thieves has admitted their involvement in the robbery, maintaining their innocence. Despite their advanced age, Jerry the Monk Scalise and Art the Brain Rachel are still recognized as skilled criminals. However, their return to Chicago proved to be their downfall as they were met by Scotland Yard and the FBI upon arrival. The authorities detained them, much to their confusion, as they claimed they had merely gone on a trip to London.
It is speculated that their familiarity with the leniency surrounding criminal activities in Chicago led to their carelessness in London. They likely underestimated the increased surveillance and scrutiny in a big city like London, ultimately leading to their capture.
In addition to this thrilling tale, Gary Jenkins takes a moment to remind listeners to be mindful of motorcycles on the road. Furthermore, he encourages those who have served in the military and are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to visit the VA website for assistance and access to the hotline.
He thanks you for tuning in and joining us on this captivating journey. And remember, the search for the stolen Marlboro Diamond continues, with the English Insurance Company offering a $100,000 reward for its recovery.
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Introduction: The Master Thieves from Chicago
[0:00] Well, hey, guys, welcome back into the studio here. I really appreciate you all tuning in.
And I want to tell you a story today about a couple of master thieves from Chicago, Jerry the Monk Scalise and Art the Brain Rachel.
These guys were hooked into the outfit. Really good, especially Scalise.
He was part of the Wild Bunch and was involved in some murders and a lot of really big time scores in Chicago.
And and for some reason, these guys, they got the idea.
And I don’t know if we’ll ever know how they got the idea, but they got the idea to fly to London and steal a huge, big, 45-carat famous diamond called the Marlboro Diamond. This was back in 1980.
This is a heck of a story, and it’s kind of a story of sloppiness on their part, but it’s a heck of a story nonetheless.
Now, these guys, the Brain and the Monk, are probably the two thieves that Michael Mann based the characters that James Caan and Jim Bellucci played in his movie The Thief.
So, you know, settle back, listen in. I think it’s a fun story.
Lawrence Graff and the 1960s
[1:08] Back in the 1960s, a man named Lawrence Graff, G-R-A-F-F, Lawrence Graff started.
Graff’s Jewelry Store: A Luxury Haven in London
[1:14] Graff’s Jewelry Store, and it soon became a really high-end luxury jewelry store in London, England.
It was located in Knightsbridge section of London.
They had some other stores, but their flagship store was in Knightsbridge which is a very nice section kind of close to the mid part of London England.
Mr. Graff and Annie’s store were world famous and they sold jewelry to the most wealthy and sophisticated people in the world.
They had purchased famous diamonds like the 41 carat Emperor Maximilian, the 70 carat Idyll-I.
The largest blue diamond in existence. There’s a 137 carat paragon diamond.
137 carat diamond was the largest flawless diamond in existence at the time and probably still is.
The Paragon Diamond: A Flawless Marvel
[1:59] Many times these big jewelry stores will buy these kinds of real famous.
1980 Lawrence Graff, the owner of Graff’s, had purchased a really well-known diamond with a history.
It was a 45 carat Marlboro diamond.
He purchased, it was a cushion-shaped diamond, which that may not mean anything to you and doesn’t particularly mean anything to me, other than it was kind of shaped like a cushion.
And he purchased it from Gladys Marie Spencer Churchill. Now if you think about it, two of those names are pretty famous.
Diana Spencer, the late Princess Di, of course Churchill is, we don’t even need to explain that name.
She was the wife of the 9th Duke of Marlboro. Marlboro Diamond was actually 46.01.
The Robbery at Graff’s Jewelry Store
[2:42] Carats when he bought it and Mr. Graff recut it to 45 carats and made it into a starburst design and had it displayed for sale.
On September 11th, 1980, this was a different September 11th than what we think about today, 9-11-80, two people enter Graff’s store in Knightsbridge.
After a quick look around, they check all the security measures, they left. Two days later, the same two well-dressed men in their drafts.
They were dressed in suits that would…
[3:12] Allow them entry into that store because the store was normally locked until
The Robbers’ Entrance and Threats
[3:17] they give you a look and and they had a security guard Standing there, but they looked like you know They were they could maybe buy a jewelry in that store security guard unlocks the door and one of the men immediately produces a gun Security guard report he states.
This is a robbery and quit looking at me or I’ll shoot you The other man produces an object that appears to be a hand grenade and he holds it and acts like it’s a hand grenade They don’t talk a lot during this robbery You know, the good professional thieves will act fast and keep their mouth shut and only say what’s necessary.
They know the more they talk, the more chances are that somebody might recognize their voice or somebody might…they might have to do a voice lineup, so they might get overheard on a wire and then they play that for somebody who’s a victim of a crime.
And you’re not gonna get convicted off of that voice lineup, but it certainly can focus somebody in on you. Five store employees and two customers hit the deck.
The Marlboro Diamond and Other Stolen Pieces
[4:11] Two men proceeded directly to the Marlboro Diamond and scooped it.
They also scooped up several other really nice pieces in the display.
You can imagine what kind of pieces they would have laying on on display around the Marlboro Diamond. They would have to be nice.
The total haul was, at that point in time, or in 1980 dollars, was three million dollars retail.
[4:31] Now the one thing these guys did not account for.
They bargained for about everything else, I think, but there was an alert accountant on his lunch hour with his girlfriend, Mr.
Colin Prothero. I’m not sure how you pronounce that, so we’ll just call him Colin.
Colin and his girlfriend were walking past, and they noticed a couple of guys…
Out in front, just got out of a car, I think it was a little Fiat.
They’re putting on white gloves as they walked up to the front of Graff’s jewelry store.
And he also noticed that one seemed to have a false beard because it was a little bit ill-fitting.
[5:06] He later told the Scotland Yard detectives there was something rotten in Denmark.
[5:10] Colin waited around a few minutes outside and the men weren’t in there very long.
They were only in there long enough to have everybody hit the deck, grab what they wanted.
They already knew what they wanted and left the store. So he waited around just a few minutes, and the men exited the store. So he followed them on foot.
And I don’t know if you’ve ever been in London in the shopping section in Midtown, Knightsbridge. My point is there’s a lot of people on the street.
You know, it’s a walking kind of a community or public transportation, so there’s a ton of people like Manhattan, New York City.
There’s a ton of people. So it would be easy to follow along behind somebody without them noticing.
And he followed along behind them, and he wrote down the license number of the Fiat. They got in it, they left.
He goes back to the store and he finds out what happened. London detectives were on their way, of course. The owner had called the police.
Beat policemen were there and the London detectives were notified and they were on the way.
And Colin gave them the tag number of the car and, you know, it was to a Hertz rental car agency located at Heathrow Airport.
It had been rented at Heathrow. It was rented. Now these guys, Art the Brain, he kind of goofed up here.
The car was rented in the names of Joseph Scalise and Art Rachel as being the drivers. And they gave the name of a London hotel, and you know, it was their hotel.
And they were checked in, the Mount Royal Hotel, under their same names, and they gave addresses in Chicago.
And the Mount Royal staff said they’d been there since September the 4th.
This is September the 11th, remember.
So they’d give them a few days, seven days, there for seven days, give them enough time to check everything out.
[6:39] Make a plan, and they’ve probably been in more than once, but they remembered them for sure being in there before.
They’d probably cased it for quite a while. These kind of guys, I’ve seen these guys work, and they show up early.
They go to a score, and they watch it, and they watch it, and then they leave, and then they come back and watch it, and watch it, looking for possible surveillance.
Because if they, you know, for example, they had mentioned to somebody in Chicago, or the FBI had a wire on them, or a bug on them somewhere in Chicago, and they had talked about this, and then they go do it, well, usually the government, the police, will wait until you get ready to do it.
If they know what you’re gonna do, they’ll just go and lay in wait for you until you show up and start doing it, and then take you off in the middle.
Otherwise, they don’t have much of a case. Maybe a conspiracy to commit, but it’s not quite the same case as committing. It was very sloppy.
They obviously had not made connection with local professional criminals.
They had no help. They just did it on their own. They rented the car at the airport.
They have not gone back to the hotel. They didn’t check out, but they’ve not gone back to the hotel yet. And this thing just happened.
Later that same day, detectives go to the airport and start checking flight manifests.
And the diamond thieves, the high-end thieves, they’ve got to have connections.
[7:58] You just don’t, I mean, you just don’t take those to the swap and shop and sell them.
You just don’t take them to the pawn shop and pawn them.
You need an organization who has different outlets and maybe even jewelers who can cut them up and recast them into other pieces or who can sell them kind of on the slide to certain people who will never, you don’t worry about them ratting you out. We’re in London, England in 1980.
The store had just been robbed. It was just an easy no-brainer.
[8:29] Just walk in, put a gun on the owner and the security guard, have everybody lay down on the floor, scoop up what you want, walk out, get in your car and drive off.
And they were on them right away, as I said before. They had rented the car from Hertz Rental Car.
[8:43] Mr. Collin had gotten the license number. They found out that it was rented out of Heathrow, so they figured they’re going to go back to Heathrow one of these days.
They start checking manifest out of Heathrow for later that afternoon or that day. Both names, Joseph Scalise and Art Rachel, are on British Airways flight number 298 enroute to Chicago, Illinois.
And if you remember, they gave a Chicago address when they checked in at the hotel.
So they had driven away, parked the car, got a cab, already had…
They didn’t check out of the hotel, they already had their stuff ready, and got a cab and headed to the airport.
But on the way to the airport, the Scotland Yard finds the taxi driver who took them to the airport, and he remembers that they stopped and they wanted to mail a package on the way to the airport.
And a postal clerk remembered one of them mailing a package, and he thought it was New York City, but he didn’t remember, and they don’t write down records of the address where a package is going to unless you do something like register it or buy insurance or something on it.
Otherwise, there’s no record of the package being mailed at all, and they didn’t do any of that.
They just mailed it. Scotland Yard detectives contact Chicago police because they are already winging their way across the Atlantic and a phone call would get there a lot quicker than an airplane.
So FBI agents are waiting at the airport for.
[10:03] Dosage police for the monk and the brain to land, and they snatch him up when they land.
End up, they have enough probable cause to get him extradited back to London.
[10:11] Eyewitnesses who were in the store ID them as the thieves. Mr.
Collin IDs them as the thieves.
Probably the cab driver ID them as the guys that he took to the airport and mailed a package.
They had fought extradition, of course, but they ended up back in London, and both of them are tried and convicted, and they’re given 15 years in a British prison, and they did that.
They did probably, you know, whatever, you know, short of if you have good time or however, but they did most of the 15 years.
English Insurance Company during this time had offered $100,000 reward and it’s still out there. If you can find that diamond, you can get yourself $100,000.
The Monk and the Genius: Master Criminals on the Loose
[10:43] Neither man has ever talked about this robbery to anybody that has turned around and told anybody else.
And actually what they do is they continue to proclaim their innocence.
And to this day, they continue to be master criminals. And these guys are both 74 years old. The Monk and the Genius are 74 years old.
Well, that was quite a bust for Scotland Yard and the FBI when the Brain and the Monk got back to Chicago.
I bet they bought crap when they came off that plane and there were agents waiting for them, taking them into custody.
Caught Off Guard: The Arrest of the Brain and the Monk
[11:14] They’re going, well, what? Well, what are you talking about?
We just, you know, we just want a little trip to London, England, you know, jolly old London, you know, Bobby’s on bicycles two by two.
Well, they were thieves on bicycles two by two, maybe, I don’t know.
Anyhow, it was a cool story. I think, you know, I think why were they so sloppy?
And I think they were so used to operating in Chicago that where people don’t really pay any attention, you know, look like there’s something going on in a big city in the United States.
Many times people will mainly just look the other way. Plus, they were Chicago outfit guys and they were so used to in Chicago, you know, if you get caught, the witnesses disappear, the witnesses don’t testify.
[11:59] Or they just, you know, the case goes away in some manner.
And I think they probably were so careless, and they were because they were so used to operating in Chicago.
It’s been a great story. Remember, I ride a motorcycle. So watch out for motorcycles when you’re out there.
And if you have a problem with PTSD, or you have a friend or a relative that has a problem with PTSD, if you’ve been in the service, be sure and go to the website for the VA.
So get that hotline. Thanks a lot, guys.