Ocean’s 8, the female-powered revival of the popular heist franchise, walked away with $53.7 million on opening weekend, a number that would have made Debbie Ocean proud. The reboot, lavishing in both the glamor and logistics of crime, followed the con woman and her team as they attempted to pull off a brash and impossible heist: steal a $150 million dollar necklace from the Met Gala.
While the Ocean family might be limited to on-screen capers, their heists are not. Here are some of history’s most notorious bank heists that make Ocean’s 8 look like child’s play; and how lucrative they were for the con men and women involved — because doesn’t everyone want to be a millionaire?
Agricultural Bank Of China
In 2007, a group of conspirators felt very confident that fortune would favor the bold. Their plan? To rob a bank, win the lottery, replace the stolen money, and reap the rewards. At the time, one of the conspirators, Ren Xiaofeng, a bank manager at the Agricultural Bank of China, probably did feel pretty bold — he had successfully pulled this off in 2006 with the help of two security guards, stealing over $25,000, buying a bunch of lottery tickets, and winning. Fast forward to spring of 2007, when, with the help of another bank manager, Ma Xiangjing, he steals nearly $7 million only to spend $6 million on perhaps the lottery’s worst losing streak in history. Within three months, the pair was caught and sentenced to death.
If Ren Xiaofeng was suffering from a lack of luck, it may have been because six robbers in London found themselves with a surplus of it — temporarily. In 1983, the team planned a hit on the Brink’s-MAT warehouse at Heathrow Airport, where a rumored £3 million in cash was stored in the vault. With the help of a security guard, they found their way in to discover an Ocean’s 8-worthy twist: the money was there, along with nearly 7,000 gold bars and two boxes of diamonds. Within two hours, the team made off with £26 million (about $110.44 million today), but while the heist proved easy, selling it did not, and the police soon tracked down and arrested two of the robbers.
The Great Train Robbery
Just its name makes it the perfect inspiration for books and movies, and the real event was just as cinematic. On August 8, 1963, a Royal Mail train was heading from Glasgow to London with a larger sum of money than usual, thanks to the bank holiday weekend in Scotland. Fifteen robbers orchestrated a complex plan to derail the train, including cutting phone lines at the emergency call box, rigging the trackside signals to strand the train in a remote area, and making off with £2.6 million, or about $50 million today. The most impressive part? The entire operation took less than 15 minutes. The less impressive part? Officials were able to close in on the robbers when they used some of the stolen banknotes to play a game of Monopoly.
Dar Es Salaam Bank Robbery
Iraq had been the target of several bank heists — including the notorious robbery of Iraq Central Bank in 2003, when Saddam Hussein stole $1 billion — and had started to amp up security. In 2007, a group of security guards at Baghdad’s Dar Es Salaam Bank saw this as an opportunity. The three employees, who normally slept at the bank, walked away with an Ocean’s 8-approved $282 million, along with 220 million Iraqi dinars ($176,000). When bank employees showed up for work the following day, they found the front door open and both guards and money gone.
While Ocean’s 8 may be just a figment of Hollywood’s imagination, as the above bank heists prove, some people are willing to go to great lengths in order to get their money. But, we have to ask, was it really worth the risk?
Lead image via YouTube