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The Truth About The Bling Ring

Sofia Coppola's latest film The Bling Ring documents the exploits of privileged Hollywood teens who ransack celebrity homes. It premieres at Cannes Film Festival today - but before you think this is a case of Spring Breakers-ish part two, consider the fact this story actually happened.

Emma Watson's character Nicki - a fame-obsessed and materialistic teenager - is based on the now infamous Alexis Neiers, one of the gang's ringleader who looted several stars' mansions including those of Paris Hilton and Orlando Bloom between October 2008 and August 2009 to steal designer clothes, jewellery and cash.

emma watson bling ring

But Neiers, 21, is not happy about Coppola's version of events and shared her dissatisfaction with her 26,000+ followers on Twitter last month, branding the trailer "trashy and inaccurate". She also claimed she had "no intention" of seeing the film.

So what actually happened?

Neiers - along with friends Rachel Lee, Nick Prugo, Diana Tamayo, Courtney Ames and Roy Lopez Jr. - was involved in the burglaries which resulted in the theft of approximately $3m in cash and belongings. She was sentenced to 180 days in prison in May 2010 but ultimately served just 30 days.

the bling ring

Most of the goods were looted from Paris Hilton's home, which the group burgled several times but they also stockpiled jewels and riches stolen from Rachel Bilson, Megan Fox and Lindsay Lohan - and there was nothing random about their hit list of addressed.

The group targeted the stars they considered to be fashion icons, using Google maps and a site called Celebrityaddressaerial.com, as well as Facebook and Twitter to work out when their victims were likely to be out at events.

More recently Neiers - pictured following her arrest in 2010 below - returned to Twitter going back on her previous criticism of The Bling Ring, saying, "It's going to be a great movie. But trust me, the truth is more interesting."

alexis neiers bling ring

So what was it about this story that makes it so intriguing? Vanity Fair journalist Nancy Jo Sales, who exposed the bling ring and their antics in 2010 and has since written a book about the burglaries, The Bling Ring: How a Gang of Fame-Obsessed Teens Ripped Off Hollywood and Shocked the World, said, "The Bling Ring kids did outrageous things, stealing celebrities' designer clothes - and jewelry, makeup, underwear and art - but in many ways they were no different than a lot of kids in America."

"The problems some of them struggled with are epidemic ones: drug and alcohol addiction; ADD and ADHD diagnoses; anxiety and depression," she added in a blog for the Huffington Post.

"Not to mention a pop culture that led them to believe that living the lifestyle of the rich and famous - a lifestyle actually available to one percent or less of the nation - was the most desirable thing possible."

The curious thing about the group is that they were already privileged. Rachel Lee drove a white Audi A4 to school, while Neiers herself is the daughter of a former playboy model. Sales argues there's more depression and suicide among kids today "and more sense of entitlement".

She adds, "The story of the Bling Ring, which touches on all of these themes, isn't just about a bunch of burglar kids, but America now."

According to reports, the group became so brazen in their actions that Lee - pictured below - was said to have paraded the key to Paris Hilton's mansion (which they found under her doormat) like a trophy and even used the toilet at the celebrity homes she was looting.

rachel lee

Lee is now serving a four year sentence behind bars for her part in crimes, while things have gone from strange to completely bizarre for Neiers.

Before she faced a judge, a police search of her family home led to the discovery of a Marc Jacobs handbag apparently belonging to Rachel Bilson and a Chanel necklace allegedly Lindsay Lohan's.

On March 14, 2010 Pretty Wild premiered on E!, a reality TV show based on the lives of Neiers, her unofficially adopted "sister" Tess Taylor, her younger biological sister Gabby Neiers, and their mother Andrea Arlington.

The show focused on the modeling careers of Alexis and Tess, as well as their LA "party lifestyle." Shortly after filming the pilot episode, Alexis was arrested for her involvement in the bling ring robberies and the show ended up chronicling her arrest, eventual plea bargain and jail time.

On May 10, 2010, Neiers pled no contest to a felony charge of first degree residential burglary of Orlando Bloom's home and was sentenced to 180 days in county jail, with three years' probation. Neiers began her sentence on June 24, 2010, and was released on July 24, after serving one month of a six-month sentence. For the last five days of her sentence, she lived in a cell next to Lindsay Lohan - who was also one of her alleged victims.

bling ring

Since her stint in jail, Alexis married Canadian businessman Evan Haines, whom she met in rehab, in Mexico in front of just 20 guests, and given birth to a baby girl. MyDaily attempted to contact Neiers, however she declined to comment.