How 3 Beach Bums Pulled Off an Epic Jewel Heist


Inside Edition


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[Music] these are people who lived life truly on the edge truly on the edge of a razor blade [Music] nobody expected somebody would try this the gem room that many gold nugget rubies emeralds sapphires it just didn't occur to anybody that this stuff was really in danger detectives have been engaged in an effort to recover jewels stolen from the American Museum of Natural History guys it's not Tiffany's it doesn't make sense to me at all he's gonna Rob the Museum of Natural History the American Museum of Natural History located on Manhattan's Upper West Side is the largest of its kind in the world it attracts over five million visitors a year to see its exhibits which include everything from meteorites to dinosaur bones but 1964 three beach bums turned burglars set their sights on a much more dazzling exhibit a rare collection of jewels for Inside Edition calm I'm Sal bono and bits are gritty [Music] in the 1960s Jules and Jen will hide but not necessarily in a good way Joel fevery in the mid-60s was a thriving industry there was a jewel heist of an average every 32 seconds in the United States in 1960 for 27 years before the movie Point Break would come out the ex-presidents are surfers an unlikely trio of surfers from Miami had an idea the three guys Roger Clark Jack Murphy and Allen Kuhn had all been working in Florida at various hotels clubs and they had developed this second more lucrative sideline as jewel thieves they had relationships with insurance agents or the manicurist who would give them a tip as to when people would not be in the room or whether who had just gotten a new insurance policy and they would go in and they would steal the good stuff and they got bored after a while and they thought they would drive up to New York and it was kind of a lark and once they got here they suddenly got intrigued by the jewels these were famous jewels that were part of the JP Morgan gem collection they were displayed I believe on the fourth floor of the Natural History Museum and they've always been a big draw for the museum JP Morgan was a Titan of American Finance amassing a fortune that today would land him in the top 20 of for versus billionaire list during his lifetime he accumulated a vast collection of art jewels much of which he left to various museums upon his death in 1913 one recipient was the American Museum of Natural History among the precious gems on display were one-of-a-kind pieces like the star of India the DeLonge ruby and the midnight star the value of the main jewels I think was around $400,000 I think was the figure that was used I think that's three million in today's money but the thing was they're priceless because they cannot be replaced under any circumstances and it turned out that the premiums were so prohibitive that the museum just never paid to insure them despite the lack of financial protection on these you those reports say the museum didn't do much to physically secure them either Museum of Natural History blamed city budget they didn't have the money to keep the security system going I think that in a weird way it just didn't occur to anybody that this stuff was really in danger and tons of changing in the 60s but the windows were left open in the Museum of Natural History so there wasn't a level of fear and paranoia all of these conditions made this collection a target for some out-of-town thieves looking for a lucrative score they did various rehearsals and then finally one night they went to the museum I had a rope they could you know one of them climbed up and dropped a rope for the other they went up all four floors they opened the window they waited no sounds nothing and they began smashing cases and grabbing all the jewels they could and then they realized at a certain point that we Watchmen were supposed to make their rounds and they left and they went back and they were just unbelievably gleeful excited happy what a testimony they had seen the movie topkapi which was about the theft of the crown jewels and they decided we can do that and they did [Music] happy ever old but they won't be there for much longer I hope they were professional burglars and although there were professional burglars they really weren't very good burglars they couldn't keep their mouths shut particularly when it came to the starving me they spoke to many other people and they were everybody get tidbits of information along the way two of the thieves made it all the way back to Miami with the loot but not before throwing one epic party inside their Manhattan hotel room to celebrate their success their large room service orders generous tips to staff and loud bragging about the crime helped police identify and capture the crooks pretty quickly the culprits became overnight celebrities but we went to all the points of interest including the museum's while we were in New York it's a fact everyone knows this you like museums - mr. Murphy I'm an avid museum goer we've been to museums all over the country they were released on bail and went back to Florida they were the toast of the town because he was such a spectacular caper they went back to Florida and they they lived a very high life it was a crime but hey who was hurt the JP Morgan jewel collection who's gonna cry for them while that may have seemed like a victimless crime there were real implications for a treasured cultural institution I would have a hard time believing that any potential donor once-in-a-lifetime artifact would trust the museum to hold their prized possessions if the JP Morgan collection is not safe what's good safe I'll let mr. Ned Jerry who was seen that describe it for you mr. no Jerry an assistant district attorney in Manhattan named Maurice Maggiore was tasked with getting the stolen goods back but their window was closing his son Doug was only six when the crime occurred but says it was a case that became legend in his family initially these three defendants were arrested the case was assigned to him he was told by his bureau chief here you go it's a lemon we don't expect much from you and there was something about him that was not enough he wanted to do more you don't object to going back to New York tomorrow under different circumstances well we definitely not we don't object it probably won't be as enjoyable as it was there the first time Jack Murphy Allen cube and Roger Clark were all charged with the theft and were being held in a Manhattan jail Majoris mission was to get just one of them to lead him to the loot and he placed his bets on cue any more museum visits in store but he wasn't as cooperative as maggiore whole team but they had to drag Allendale Kuhn all around Florida and he was a quirky guy so CUNY would decide you know what it's 2:00 o'clock Bugs Bunny's on a three I'm going back to the hotel room no Bugs Bunny no gems Maurice told me that the very first thing that Alan did was say that the black regulation sedan that they had rented was not for him he wanted a red sports car the way my dad tells the story was that it took every ounce of strength that he had not to strangle Kuhn kill him there in the end Allen Kuhn proved to be little help investigators were able to find the man who purchased some of the stolen jewels from the heist that led them to a locker at a bus terminal where they hit the jackpot it was a waterlogged let a bag with wet inner paper wrappings some of the jewels were recovered including the Star of India and midnight star but the long movie wasn't in the bag but was later tracked down by a report in 1965 Huhn Murphy and Clark all pleaded guilty to burglary and grand larceny they were sentenced to three years in prison the [Applause] [Music] Museum of Natural History recovered most of the important stolen jewels particularly because they were hard for the thieves to sell that left many to believe that this crime wasn't about the money as the thing evolved it was as much about the publicity they garnered from it as about making the Hall gave them a reputation that they otherwise would not have had I don't think they felt any remorse I think it was something that made them smile [Applause] hindsight there was almost a little we can't believe we got away with it they were all released from prison in 1967 after he served his sentence Clarke moved to New England and lived a quiet life he died in 2007 Allan Kuhn spent a year in federal prison for conspiracy charges but later moved to California and lived out his days on a marijuana farm he died in 2017 Jack Murphy went down a darker path he was found guilty of killing two women in Florida in 1967 and was sentenced to life in prison behind bars he became a pastor and mentor to other prisoners he was paroled in 1986 and now travels the country preaching he declined to participate in this story but it's the crime that this trio pulled off together that still has people talking today we can all imagine sitting safely and in our law-abiding lives what it might be like to break the rules and get away with them I think it's vicarious it's something we would never do but we're kind of impressed by people who do those sorts of things and get away with it the star of India the long ruby and midnight star were safely returned and continued to be put on display but surely under better security