Here's What We Know About The Real-Life Ocean's 11 Heist

Outlandish heist movies like "Ocean's 11" captivate audiences with their daring, wildly imaginative plans and quick-thinking improvisation that have the masses briefly rooting for criminals. While real-life robberies tend to be much more mundane — and violent — some are so carefully thought out and generally successful that the public is sent into a media frenzy, eagerly awaiting any details about the perpetrators and sometimes quietly wishing for their escape.

One such heist occurred in July 1976 at the Société Génerale bank in Nice, France (via Today I Found Out). The bankers were just returning from the long weekend to find the ATM and vault doors weren't functioning correctly. After prying the vault doors open, the employees were shocked to see it ransacked, with nothing left but checks, bearer bonds, and a message reading "Without Weapons. Without Violence. Without Hate." Authorities discovered dirty dishes, stoves, and a 2-foot-wide tunnel leading to the sewers and reached the conclusion that a gang of robbers had cut through the wall and stayed in the vault throughout the long weekend to bleed the place dry — and vanished.

Most of the money has never been recovered

The police estimated that the equivalent of around $10 million USD was taken, but since several victims refused to detail what was in their security deposit boxes, the exact value will never be known. Some criminals were traced back to an empty villa on the outskirts of town, but authorities wanted to apprehend the brains of the operation. After weeks of interrogation and dead ends, police were finally able to make some Marseille crime bosses drop a name: Albert Spaggiari (via Reservation Riviera).

Spaggiari had a past filled with petty theft and organized crime, and, ironically, once worked for the company that made the vaults in the Société Génerale. Having settled down raising chickens on a farm and working as a photographer, Spiaggiari reportedly got inspired by a novel where a bank vault is accessed from the sewers. After contacting his organized crime connections, Spaggiari supposedly had two teams of 10 men who set about securing supplies, scouring the sewers, and digging through 10 feet of concrete to get to the treasure within. Spaggiari was apprehended and only gave details when authorities threatened to arrest his wife. 

In a final twist of drama, Spaggiari made a daring escape from his trial, jumping out the window and hitching a ride from a friend nearby. He lived the rest of his life in exile, occasionally sneaking back to France to visit his wife, before reportedly dying of lung cancer. The money, meanwhile, has mostly vanished from the record, marking one of the most sensational heists in history as a near-complete success.