Thursday 27 August 2015

The Millennium Dome Raid

The Millennium Dome raid was an attempted robbery of the Millennium Dome's diamond exhibition in Greenwich, South East London on November 7, 2000. A local gang including Lee Wenham, Raymond Betson and William Cockram had planned to ram-raid the De Beers diamond exhibition which was being held in the dome at the time.

The gang had then planned to escape via the Thames in a speedboat.
Police caught raiders red-handed when they foiled a massive diamond robbery at the Millennium Dome, a court has heard. Their actions stopped the robbers getting away with £200m worth of "perhaps the rarest and finest" diamonds in the world, the Old Bailey was told.

Martin Heslop QC prosecuting, spoke at the start of the trial of six men accused of plotting to rob the De Beers Millennium Diamond Exhibition.
Mr Heslop said the robbers were caught as they smashed their way into the Dome with a JCB digger, equipped with a giant mechanised shovel.
The attempted robbery was foiled by the Flying Squad of the Metropolitan Police Service, who already had the gang members under surveillance for their suspected roles in a number of unsuccessful armoured vehicle robberies. The operation to foil the robbery was the biggest operation undertaken in the Flying Squad's history and at trial the judge in the case made a special point of commending the way it was carried out.
The digger had been modified to carry four people inside. "Because of the very nature of the vehicle, it was less likely that anyone would have any chance of stopping it as they made their getaway," said Mr Heslop. Those inside came equipped with gas masks, smoke grenades and bottles of ammonia to discharge, he told the jury.

They also held a sledgehammer, wire cutters, a sophisticated nail gun and body armour.
The robbery was planned professionally and carefully down to the last detail and almost succeeded. But senior police officers, suspicious of a plan to obtain the diamonds, mounted a sophisticated operation to thwart it. On the night before the raid they removed the DeBeers diamonds and replaced them with worthless fakes, just in case the robbers succeeded.

Undercover police officers and sophisticated CCTV were ready in wait for the robbers, the court heard.
Four men who attempted to pull off a daring £200m diamond heist at the Millennium Dome have been found guilty of conspiring to rob. Gang members were caught by armed police as they smashed their way into the south east London attraction with an earth mover in November 2000.

The guilty men are: •Aldo Ciarrocchi, 32, of Bermondsey, London
•William Cockram, 49, of Catford, London
•Raymond Betson, 40, of Chatham, Kent
•Robert Adams, 57, no fixed address

Betson and Cockram were jailed for 18 years each. Adams and Ciarrocchi got 15 years each. Meredith was jailed for five years. The four had admitted conspiring to steal the 12 diamonds, including the Millennium Star, one of the world's largest gems, from the De Beers Millennium Exhibition.
The court heard how Adams - known as Bob the Builder - had confessed to police after his arrest.

He told officer Brian McNamara: "I was 12 inches from pay day. It would have been a blinding Christmas." Adams described trying to break through the £50,000 three-quarter inch armoured plated glass vault with a sledgehammer. "I cannot believe how easily the glass went. I only hit it twice," he told the officer.

Friday 21 August 2015


Masada is one of the most visited sites in Israel. It contains ancient palaces and fortifications located on top of an isolated rock plateau overlooking the Dead Sea.

Masada (‘fortress’ in Hebrew) became known for its significance in the First Jewish-Roman War ("Great Jewish Revolt"). In the first century A.D. a thousand Jewish rebels took over the fortress and were surrounded by the Roman army, which left behind the most complete siege works in the world.
When defeat was imminent, the rebels chose to commit suicide.
Located about a 90 minute drive south from Jerusalem, the fortress was built during the time of King Herod between 37 and 31 BCE.

The eastern side of the rock falls in a sheer drop of about 450 meters (1500 feet) down to the Dead Sea basin, the lowest point on earth.

Peter O'Toole as Lucius Flavius Silva
In 73 CE, the Roman governor of Judaea, Lucius Flavius Silva headed the Roman legion X Fretensis and laid siege to Masada. The Roman legion surrounded Masada, built a circumvallation wall and then a siege ramp against the western face of the plateau.

Remnants of one of several legionary camps of X Fretensis at Masada in Israel, just outside the circumvallation wall.

An ancient Roman coin. The inscription reads IVDEA CAPTA. Coins inscribed Ivdaea Capta (Judea Captured) were issued throughout the Empire
The ramp was complete in the spring of 73, after probably two to three months of siege, allowing the Romans to finally breach the wall of the fortress with a battering ram. When Roman troops entered the fortress, they discovered that its 960 inhabitants had set all the buildings but the food storerooms ablaze and committed mass suicide or killed each other. Only two women and five children were found alive.




Monday 17 August 2015

Bonhams to auction $40m Frederiksen Collection

The Frederiksen Collection consists of 48 rare and iconic motor cars, offered at an auction taking place at the home of owner, Henrik Frederiksen, Lyngsbækgård Manor, on Saturday 26 September.

The sale features predominantly pre-war motor cars, built by some of the worlds most exclusive manufacturers, including Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, Lagonda and Maybach. The cars, which are all in running condition, are estimated to be worth around $40 million

Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8A Torpedo
1933 Maybach DS8 which is expected to sell for £2.3m.

Also in the collection are thirteen Rolls-Royces (including a 1914 Silver Ghost expected to make £1 million), two Bentleys (one of which is a S1 Drophead Coupe also expected to fetch £1 million), a 1913 Sunbeam 25/30 Tornado, a Jaguar SS100 3 1/2 and a Lagonda LG6 Rapide Drophead Coupe.

The 1939 Lagonda LG6 Rapide Drophead

1914 Mercedes 28-95 Phaeton

1914 Silver Ghost

Jaguar SS100 3 1/2

Duesenberg Model J, the Hispano-Suiza H6C

A 1914 Mercedes 28-95 Phaeton stands out at the front of the collection.




Wednesday 12 August 2015

The Pogue Coin Collection

An 1804 silver dollar is worth $8 to $10m.
The world's greatest private collection of American coins was sold in a record-breaking series of seven auctions at Sotherby's and Stack's Bowers Galleries. Gathered over more than 30 years by Texas property developer A. Mack Pogue and his son, D. Brent Pogue, the collection contains coins from the early years of the American republic, from 1792 to the 1830s.

These are the most sought-after U.S. coins in existence, as the crude production techniques of the period meant that the coins were fragile, making surviving high-quality examples extremely rare.

A 1796 quarter dollar

1793 chain cent–the nation’s earliest penny

The 1795 Flowing Hair, Three Leaves silver dollar

1797 half dollar coin is worth up to $1.75m

1822 five dollar gold coin $8m
An 1808 quarter eagle led Stack's Bowers and Sotheby's sale of the Brent D Pogue collection in New York on May 20, 2015. The lot sold for $2.3m, setting a new world record for a US quarter eagle at auction.