New York Magazine


The Lufthansa Kennedy Heist
June 4, 1979

When: December 11, 1978

The crime: $5.8 million in cash and jewels swiped, for years the biggest robbery in American history. The money was never recovered.

The place: JFK Airport

The robbers: Louis Werner, an insider who had worked for Lufthansa Airlines for years, needed money to pay off his gambling debts. He conceived of the crime and would be the only man ever convicted for it. Henry Hill, a mobster who specialized in heists and planned the crime would later testify against two mob bosses and be placed in a witness protection program. Ray Liotta would play him in the movie Goodfellas. Mobsters across the crime families played a role and claimed a cut. With a car and a van, eight men known as "Robert's Lounge Crew" actually pulled it off.

Greed got 'em: Although no one was killed during the heist, fourteen people associated with it were later murdered or reported missing.

Trivia: A story by Nick Pileggi in New York Magazine about the heist led to GoodFellas.