The ART of the Heist

Four time Academy Award winning producer Stuart Benjamin (Ray) has teamed with fellow award winning producer Howard Lapides to acquire comprehensive rights to the forthcoming non-fiction thriller trilogy American Panther (Stealing Manhattan)  by Edgar Award winning author Burl Barer and Paul “Punch” Stanimirovic, son of gem heist mastermind “Mr. Stan.”

Mr. Stan: never captured, never convicted and never a day in prison

Mr. Stan

Mr. Stan is the sophisticated, charming, stylish, handsome and respected member of New York’s high-society who planned the most astonishing diamond heists and multi-million-dollar cash thefts in America for over three decades until his retirement in 2003.  Mr. Stan only robbed the over-insured. Hence, no one ever lost a dime being robbed by Mr. Stan.


Stan and his beautiful wife, Branka, owned and operated numerous successful legitimate businesses in Manhattan, and had five offices in the Diamond District – the same famed district where Stan’s crews were opening vaults and cracking the safes of the Big Apple’s most heavily insured jewelry firms.

Branka, wearing mink and diamonds with casual grace, charmed her way into the vaults of New York’s jewelry manufacturing firms, bringing back details and suggestions for the biggest heists in America’s history.

Their only son, “Punch,” made his first million by age sixteen in displays of criminal creativity and unmatched skill as a professional safe cracker.  A quick scan of NYC headlines reveals the audacity of his antics.


A brazen burglar busted into a 12th-floor jewelry manufacturer in Midtown early yesterday and made off with $1.5 million in jewelry, police said.  “The burglary was like something straight out of a movie,” said a detective on the scene.

It was Punch who trained the next generation, and conceived the techniques used today by his former crew members in the notorious Pink Panthers.

Punch was the first to recruit the security firms and their executives to work with him instead of against him, not only in the Diamond District, but also on armored car company warehouse thefts and over three hundred cold case heists in New York City alone.

In 1993,Mr. Stan and Son devised the most audacious and successful  mega-heist in the history of American crime: over one BILLION dollars in diamonds, gold and precious gems.

Punch, the only American born family member, is also the only one to serve time. Retired from crime for over a decade, he is now a successful contemporary artist whose first paint brush and canvas were gifts from Phillip Pearlstein. Praised for his brilliant command of style, unquestioned authenticity and unprecedented mastery of diverse media, Punch, a street-smart graffiti artist in the ‘80’s, is now living his crime-free artistic dreams as a multi-media savant   #motherartistfatherartist. 

The first book in the American Panther Trilogy, Stealing Manhattan, will see publication this year in advance of the first motion picture adapted from this astonishing true story.

The legitimate winner of over three million dollars at Florida’s Hard Rock Casino, Punch is also a popular true crime commentator profiled in Vanity Fair, on HBO’s VICE, in Real Crime Magazine in the UK and is a regular contributor to True Crime Uncensored, America’s premier and longest running true crime podcast. He is an exceptionally popular “larger than life” media personality with an extensive fan base already established in Russia and Eastern Europe.

Mr. Stan, retired and living outside the United States, has allowed access to his extensive personal memoirs to assist in the accuracy of this incredible one-of-a-kind true crime adventure.  His former wife,  Branka, also cooperated fully. She and Punch are both residents of Southern Florida.

Burl Barer, author of American Panther

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