The bold jewel heist at a popular city museum

Could the Museum of Natural History have made it any easier for two thieves to break in and make off with $400,000 in gemstones?

Probably not. It happened on October 29, 1964. Robbers Jack Murphy (right, a former surfing champion) and Alan Kuhn, both from Miami, had already cased the museum and found security at the fourth floor jewel hall to be pretty deficient.

The main burglar alarm hadn’t worked in years, and the alarms in the display cases never had the batteries replaced.

And there was that window left open, which allowed the robbers to get inside the museum via a rope.

Murphy, Kuhn, and an accomplice waiting outside that night made off with the 563-carat Star of India, a blue sapphire donated to the museum by J.P. Morgan, as well as diamonds, rubies, and other rare gems valued at over $400,000.

The thieves didn’t have the loot for long, reports this piece from Mental Floss:

“[They] were apprehended two days later in Miami; according to Murphy, Interpol identified them because they were spending too much money and they were ‘partying too strong.’ The Star of India was recovered from a locker in a Miami bus station.”

All three thieves got three years in prison, and Jack Murphy ended up there again after he was convicted of murdering a young woman in 1967.

The Museum of Natural History hopefully has installed better security since then.

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3 Responses to “The bold jewel heist at a popular city museum”

  1. Alex Baugh Says:

    My dad was worked at the Museum of Natuarl History and I remember the day this happened very very well.

  2. chas Says:

    “Murph The Surf”…is he still with us..and what tells of the other s involved or have the melted into obscurity as well…

  3. BabyDave Says:

    Yes, Murph the Surf!
    Unfortunately he went beyound cat buglary and into murder. Sentenced to life in prison inflorida, today Jack Murphy is an ordained minister, working with inmates in the field of prison ministry. (According to Wikipedia.)

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