November 30, 2023


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The Bank Job True Story: Real Life Robbery Explained

5 min read
The Bank Job True Story: Real Life Robbery Explained

The Bank Job true story is stranger than fiction, so it’s little surprise Lionsgate decided to adapt the bizarre events of the 1971 Baker Street Robbery into the equally-bombastic 2008 heist film. But is The Bank Job accurate? The answer, like the Baker Street Robbery itself, is complicated. In the movie, the robbery is masterminded by Martine Love, an ex-model who is in a romantic relationship with British Security Services Agent Tim Everett. Martine convinces a group to rob a bank containing a safe deposit box owned by black militant Michael X, which contents include compromising photographs of Princess Margaret. What ensues is a wild ride.


The Bank Job movie, directed by Roger Donaldson (Al Pacino’s The Recruit), explores the real-life Lloyds bank robbery of 1971 which took place on Baker Street in London. The value of the goods that were stolen during the heist is still unknown as the police only managed to retrieve a small sum. However, it is estimated the total amount stolen lies between £1.25 and £3 million. The true purpose of the Baker Street heist remains shrouded in mystery too, and this robbery still has many unanswered questions, even fifty years after it happened. Here is The Bank Job true story explained.

Related: The 10 Best Heist Movies Ever

The Real Heist That Inspired The Bank Job

Jason Stathem on a walkie-talkie The Bank Job

Part of the reason why The Bank Job, which stars Jason Statham (The Expendables), was made is the producers wanted to reveal to the public some seemingly never-before-known truths regarding the robbery. The Bank Job tells the events of the heist and its aftermath in a manner that is fictionalized in more ways than one, most notably regarding the character portrayed in the movie and how they compare to the real perpetrators. For instance, the individual who planned the Baker Street heist, Anthony Gavin, is not portrayed in the film. Instead, a fictional woman named Martine Love planned the heist and assembles the crew to carry it out.

Anthony Gavin was initially inspired to conduct the heist portrayed in the bank movie based on a true story when he read The Red-Headed League, a short story written in 1891 by Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle about the famed detective Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson’s attempt to foil burglars. Gavin and his crew broke into the Lloyds bank by tunneling from a nearby store they rented and used gelignite — known as a blasting jelly — to open a way up into the bank from the ground, unlike in The Bank Job movie.

While inside, they communicated via walkie-talkie with a lookout who was stationed on the roof. Unfortunately, the walkie-talkie’s signal was picked up by Robert Rowlands, an amateur radio enthusiast, who called the police to make arrests. Initially, the police didn’t believe Robert which gave Gavin and the crew enough time to leave with the stolen goods. It didn’t take the police long to find some of the suspects but the money and gear were gone forever. Gavin’s motivations were definitely one thing that The Bank Job movie embellished for narrative effect, but there were other elements that detracted from The Bank Job true story.

The Bank Job Movie Wasn’t Accurate

Jason Statham looking off camera in The Bank Job

The Bank Job movie alludes to the method used by the original burglars, but the movie version is almost entirely fictionalized. According to the film, compromising pictures of Princess Margaret — who was played by Vanessa Kirby on The Crown — were being held in one of the safety deposit boxes belonging to Trinidadian radical Michael X so MI5 set up the burglary to secure the photos. This might explain why the British Government issued a D-Notice which censored any press releases about the robbery after it occurred and newspapers about the robbery are still being held under embargo at the National Archives until 2071.

It seems odd the government would go to such lengths to cover up the details of the robbery. Whether it had something to do with Princess Margaret or someone else’s personal life, whatever was inside the safety deposit boxes at Lloyd’s Bank in 1971 remains unknown to this day. The Bank Job movie’s version of events serves to add fictionalized flavor to what really happened that night in Central London, and it will likely be many more years until the truth is unearthed.

Pierce Brosnan Made A Documentary About The Real Bank Job Robbery

the heist in the movie The Bank Job

Pierce Brosnan has teamed up with the History Channel to create the series Greatest Heists With Pierce Brosnan, and season 1, episode 3 focuses on none other than The Bank Job true story. Titled “The Baker Street Bank Burglary,” the documentary history crime show chronicles the aspiring thieves’ mission to tunnel underneath the Lloyds Bank and break into a safety deposit box. However, the real focus is the game of cat-and-mouse that ensues when a radio enthusiast inadvertently stumbles upon their walkie-talkie conversation and contacts Scotland Yard.

The episode is one of the more highly rated of the bunch, and uses dramatic reenactments to depict the high-stakes true story. For those looking to see the realities of The Bank Job true story, Greatest Heists With Pierce Brosnan is a great option. It doesn’t shy away from some of the murkier details of the tale, and chronicles the intriguing chase between cops and robbers. While The Bank Job movie focuses more on the lead-up to the heist, Greatest Heists takes a different route in telling The Bank Job true story and is an engaging watch for fans of crime history.

The Baker Street Robbery Was Always Surrounded By Misinformation

The Bank Job two characters looking at a document

Princess Margaret’s personal life aside, The Bank Job true story has always been surrounded by misinformation, thanks to the contents of the security deposit box remaining unknown. While The Bank Job certainly took some creative liberties, rumors and falsehoods surrounding the case have run rampant over the years, muddying its true events. One rumor is that a government-issued D-notice, a formal request for the media not to cover a specific story due to national security, was brought about. This has been proven false as the robbery was widely reported.

Another rumor that The Bank Job addresses is that the safe deposit box contained photos of Princess Margaret and the criminal actor John Bindon, which has again, been debunked. Finally, its also been said that the safe deposit box had evidence that a conservative cabinet member was abusing children, which was left behind by robbers for police to find. True story heist films like the A24 movie The Bling Ring are bound to take creative liberties, but The Bank Job true story has always been shrouded in mystery — which makes the extreme creative liberties it takes not only forgivable but fitting.


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