35th Anniversary: Love Score

Ttrue love— like the diamonds that cat burglar William Mason stole — is forever.

The Shaker Heights native spent the 1970s and early ’80s dropping in on everyone from local bigwigs to celebrities, including Robert Goulet and Phyllis Diller (twice), making off with a cool $35 million.

He also stole the heart of Francine Loveman, a socialite who left her industrialist husband for Mason. In January 1985, we profiled the surreal lives of Loveman and Mason, noting one particularly incredible heist that Mason was accused of: $1 million in jewels from “the luxurious Acacia-on-the-Green condominium of Joseph Mandel.” The night of that robbery, Mandel and his wife were eating dinner with their best friends — Francine’s parents! — Milt and Gladys Kravitz.

Later that year, a judge sentenced Mason to five years in prison; the media (including Cleveland Magazine) labeled Loveman a thrill-seeker and offered their relationship considerably less of a run. We were wrong.

“Forgive the pun, but they’re still as tight as thieves more than 30 years later,” says author Lee Gruenfeld, who told the couple’s story in “Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief.” The publicity-shy pair divides its time between New York City and a house in upstate New York where, according to Gruenfeld, “Bill spends his time building furniture. He and Fran also have a business selling jewelry — made from Bakelite, not gold or diamonds.” She is active in the cause of childhood autism, while he is using his “experience” for good: consulting on security issues for several private clients.

We may not have seen the last of Mason. “Bill and I have been talking about writing a second book,” says Gruenfeld, “a novel about a jewel thief who pulls a sensational score in New York City.”

That’s fiction, right?
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