Gentleman thief  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

In the Victorian vernacular, a gentleman thief is a particularly well-behaving and apparently well bred thief. A "gentleman" is usually, but not always, a man with an inherited title of nobility and inherited wealth, who need not work for a living. Such a man steals not in order to gain material wealth, but for adventure; and acts without malice. Gentlemen thieves rarely bother with anonymity or force, as they rely on their charm and good looks to steal the most unobtainable objects — sometimes for their own support, but also for the thrill of the act itself.

Notable gentlemen thieves in literature include E. W. Hornung's A.J. Raffles or Maurice Leblanc's Arsène Lupin. Both utilise cunning disguises and are superb at stealing while maintaining a sophisticated front. Raffles steals mostly when he is especially "hard-up", in need of money. On the other hand, Lupin steals more from the rich who don't appreciate art or their treasures and redistributes it (not unlike a modern Robin Hood). Lupin has also assisted the police, but he is primarily a thief, even having outwitted Sherlock Holmes (as the thinly veiled "Herlock Sholmes").

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Gentleman thief" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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