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Diamond Doris: The True Story of the World's Most Notorious Jewel Thief

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Soon to be a Major Motion Picture

In the ebullient spirit of Ocean’s 8, The Heist, and Thelma & Louise, a sensational and entertaining memoir of the world’s most notorious jewel thief—a woman who defied society’s prejudices and norms to carve her own path, stealing from elite jewelers to live her dreams.

Growing up during the Depression in the segregated coal town of Slab Fork, West Virginia, Doris Payne was told her dreams were unattainable for poor black girls like her. Surrounded by people who sought to limit her potential, Doris vowed to turn the tables after the owner of a jewelry store threw her out when a white customer arrived. Neither racism nor poverty would hold her back; she would get what she wanted and help her mother escape an abusive relationship.

Using her southern charm, quick wit, and fascination with magic as her tools, Payne began shoplifting small pieces of jewelry from local stores. Over the course of six decades, her talents grew with each heist. Becoming an expert world-class jewel thief, she daringly pulled off numerous diamond robberies and her boyfriend fenced the stolen gems to Hollywood celebrities.

Doris’s criminal exploits went unsolved well into the 1970s—partly because the stores did not want to admit that they were duped by a black woman. Eventually realizing Doris was using him, her boyfriend turned her in. She was arrested after stealing a diamond ring in Monte Carlo that was valued at more than half a million dollars. But even prison couldn’t contain this larger-than-life personality who cleverly used nuns as well as various ruses to help her break out. With her arrest in 2013 in San Diego, Doris’s fame skyrocketed when media coverage of her astonishing escapades exploded.

Today, at eighty-seven, Doris, as bold and vibrant as ever, lives in Atlanta, and is celebrated for her glamorous legacy. She sums up her adventurous career best: “It beat being a teacher or a maid.” A rip-roaringly fun and exciting story as captivating and audacious as Catch Me if You Can and Can You Ever Forgive Me?—Diamond Doris is the portrait of a captivating anti-hero who refused to be defined by the prejudices and mores of a hypocritical society.

ISBN-13: 9780062917997

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication Date: 09-10-2019

Pages: 288

Product Dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

Doris Payne is the daughter of a coal miner and the youngest of six siblings. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Mined

April 1956 3

Part I Color

1 I Wasn't Born a Jewel Thief 11

2 Greed 17

3 My Declaration of War 25

4 Mr. Benjamin 33

Part II Clarity

5 Trickster in Practice 43

6 Finding My Way Out 48

7 My First Big Heist 61

8 Hot Ice, Cold Feet 68

9 Making Good on My Crimes 77

10 Taking Things to the Next Level 88

11 Racial Backfire 104

12 It's Who You Know, but You Don't Own Me 115

13 Family Ties and Known Associates 125

Part III Cut

14 Going International 137

15 Diamond Fever 156

16 Returning to Baby Jesus 174

17 Fault Line 181

18 Off My Game 186

19 Throwing Dust at Disaster 199

Part IV Carat

20 Snared 209

21 Telling People What They Want to Hear 223

22 Tokyo Diamonds and the Mohair Coat 229

23 The Long Game 235

24 Dry Snitches 249

25 Reckoning 254

Epilogue: DVVS

December 2018 265

Acknowledgments 267