INTERVIEW. Patricia Tourancheau recounts the “heist of the century” against Kim Kardashian

INTERVIEW. Patricia Tourancheau recounts the “heist of the century” against Kim Kardashian
INTERVIEW. Patricia Tourancheau recounts the “heist of the century” against Kim Kardashian

Interview with the Vendée journalist Patricia Tourancheau, author of the book Kim and the robber grandpas.

Thieving grandpas, American star Kim Kardashian and a robbery: what is this juicy news item recounted in your book?

The theft of Kim Kardashian’s jewelry by hooded men during the Fashion Week from Paris, in 2016. This caused a lot of talk. The extremely wealthy social media star was hacked in the bathroom of his luxury hotel by fake police officers. The men suspected of having committed this robbery are not serious criminals but five grandpas, aged 60 to 72, who took off on bikes with loot of nine million euros. They were quickly found using DNA and street CCTV cameras.

Were you able to meet the protagonists?

Yes, I went to meet them. It was not easy to collect their testimony. It took me up to two and a half years to just have coffee with some of them!

“Talbin”, “lazaro”, “faf”… Your book is a dictionary of local slang…

I deliberately wanted to highlight this slang, this flowery language, because it is the best way to characterize these worlds, to understand how these characters are made up. When the cop, former head of the “armed robbery” group at the Banditry Repression Brigade (BRB), tells one of the robber grandpas that he is “making his urine”: but what is he talking about? In fact, this means that he will go through his criminal record. I’ve learned words over the years and I’m learning them all the time. The slang dictionary can be found at the end of the book.

Was this story complicated to write?

Ten times more than a “normal” story. I pushed the writing because there are three universes in this news story. That of the old thieves, that of the old-fashioned “chickens” and the world more bling-bling of the American star Kim Kardashian. We must therefore respect the language of these three worlds. I even had my 26-year-old son reread a few passages to see if he stumbled over certain expressions.

“The technical and scientific police have revolutionized investigations”

These grandpas like no other have something “endearing”. You also say you differentiate between thugs who attack people and those who attack property. In which way ?

It will be said that I have more empathy for this type of old thieves, who do not commit extreme violence. They have a gun and it must be shocking to be robbed in the middle of the night but there is no excessive violence. Afterwards, there are still victims. My sympathy also goes to Kim Kardashian’s driver and the hotel bouncer, involved against their will in the robbery. They are collateral victims. For the first, exiled, his company collapsed and he is no longer in France. The bouncer went back to Algeria and did not finish his studies.

The journalist Patricia Tourancheau, a diversifier at heart, is originally from Vendée. | DAVID ADÉMAS / WEST-FRANCE
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The journalist Patricia Tourancheau, a diversifier at heart, is originally from Vendée. | DAVID ADÉMAS / WEST-FRANCE

We also discover that the means and methods of investigation to track down the robbers of the 1990s and those of today have evolved significantly. Against the bandits?

Technical and scientific police have revolutionized investigations. In 1998, telephony appeared. At the beginning, the police collected 5 kg of paper, with detailed invoices (fadettes) and everything was covered with a pen. Today, the cell phone is a spy. At the time, genetic fingerprinting was also taking its first steps. The few rare young people who “climbed the braco” (were carrying out a robbery) were equipped with overalls wrapped in adhesive tape from head to toe to avoid leaving marks. This technical police slowed down the big blows but the thugs adapted.

What happened to the suspected attackers?

The twelve people involved will be tried before the Assize Court from April 28 to May 23, 2025. Nine men and one woman are being prosecuted. An eleventh will be judged solely for another criminal project, on which the judges suspected part of the gang of working after that which targeted Kim Kardashian. The twelfth will appear for a related offense linked to a weapons law offense.

“An audiovisual adaptation is in progress”

What have you been unable to say, reveal or write in this matter?

[Un long moment de réflexion, sourire au coin des lèvres]. It was on the second shot that they were supposed to have prepared with one of the characters, with a story about a wheelchair for the disabled and locations in Paris. But since I know more than the BRB, I’m not going to say more. I’m not a snitch.

Is your book going to be adapted for television?

An audiovisual adaptation is in progress. I can’t reveal more. We can say international in scope…

You are also publishing a new version of your book on Grêlé, this former police officer, rapist and serial killer, who ended his life in 2021. For what reason?

In the new pocket version of Hail at Point Editions, I updated a final chapter, with lots of scoops on his life. But I must admit that I was hallucinated to see images of his participation in a Nagui game show, in 2019. This video was revealed last March by the journalist Jean Arca who had read my book and who followed my interviews. It’s appalling to see this criminal move, enter the set thinking he’s a star and tell his story.

He also makes a cheeky joke about the fact that Nagui does not frequent the Bois de Boulogne. Do you know the bottom line?

This is a salacious allusion because I reveal that in 1986, while he was a Republican Guard at the gendarmerie in Paris, Le Grêlé was caught in flagrante delicto in the woods in the company of a transvestite. He was arrested for ten days. At the time of his participation in this TV game, he had been wanted for 33 years. He took no risk of being recognized except for recent victims but as he would have stopped from 1997 or 1998, he feared nothing…

Kim and the robber grandpas, Seuil editions, 240 pages, €19.


1959. Born in Chantonnay, in Vendée.

1990. Enter in Release as a journalist specializing in criminal affairs and news items

2004. Publish a book on Hairpieces (Éditions Fayard), a gang specializing in bank robberies and break-ins which operated in Paris between 1981 and 1986.

2015. Join the magazine The Obs.

2019. Co-directed a documentary series on the affair of little Grégory, broadcast on Netflix.

2021. Publishes a book about the French serial killer Guy Georges. Arrested in 1998 by the Crime, the elite brigade of the Quai des Orfèvres, this assassin was sentenced in 2001 to life imprisonment for the murder of seven young women.



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