New information and exclusive interviews with members of the burglary gang who—in typical early-aughts meta-fame fashion—became celebrities because they stole from celebrities are included in the new Netflix docuseries The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist, which premiered today. The three-part documentary's most startling revelation, though, concerns an old accusation.
Bling Ring member Nick Norgo (born Prugo) recalls breaking into Paris Hilton's house: "We found a big bag of drugs one time." "Her coffee was similar to Scarface coffee; that was the greatest coffee I had ever made. Who the f**k can suggest that we're doing Paris Hilton's coke?"
It's a claim Norgo has previously made, and Hilton has refuted it (including in this movie: Although there is a warning at the end stating that "A representative of Paris Hilton has denied that illicit substances were found at her home," it's still surprising to hear someone who openly stole from her describe how they allegedly used her narcotics.
Hilton was taken into custody in 2011 after a traffic stop resulted in the discovery of.8 grammes of cocaine in her hands. She was given probation after entering a guilty plea to two crimes.
Norgo made headlines in the 2010s for breaking into the homes of Orlando Bloom, Lindsay Lohan, Rachel Bilson, and Audrina Patridge (who also appears in the documentary), among others, and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of property. Alexis Haines (née Neiers), who also appears in the film, and a group of acquaintances were also involved. The Bling Ring, a 2013 movie directed by Sofia Coppola, stars Emma Watson as Neiers, who, although saying she was little involved, ended up being the group's face. The new documentary offers greater timeline clarity and features Norgo and Haines telling their often-conflicting testimonies in parallel.
Bladen-Ryall and executive producer Larry Walford are hopeful that the passage of time will help us empathise with and comprehend the criminals—really kids—who committed these crimes, as well as their motivations and mental states.
According to Walford, "When Myles and I first read the story, we felt that we should convey it as truthfully as possible in terms of the chronological story, but that there was also a thesis here for a documentary filmmaker about a sort of cautionary morality tale. Many people believed that [the Bling Ring] were simply wealthy children. However, the events were actually caused by the fact that they all had incredibly difficult upbringings. Additionally, those were hardly ever recorded."
On the short-lived E! reality series Pretty Wild, Haines' chaotic home life was documented. Since then, she has been honest about her life at the time, particularly her drug use, and she has graduated as a substance abuse counsellor. The impact of a young addict whose lawyers, TV producers, and even parents all put fame before concern for her as a person and how it led into a pattern of behaviour are both shown in Hollywood Heist.
As he describes his struggles with his sexuality and his inability to truly connect with people before meeting Rachel Lee, the suspected leader of the Bling Ring, Norgo also describes his mental condition at the time of the robberies.
Bladen-Ryall stated, "I believe it to be pretty simple in this instance, and much of the press and media at the time really did nothing more than point and blame the young people for what they did. That doesn't mean they shouldn't own up to their mistakes or that they aren't accountable for their deeds. Of course they are, but the situation is more intricate and nuanced than just blaming those responsible for atrocities. You must consider the bigger picture, their upbringing, their environment, their culture, and the society they live in. And occasionally, I believe it's necessary to consider whether we might be somewhat [tacitly complicit]."
The documentary transports viewers back to the early days of blogs like Perez Hilton (the blogger appears as a talking head) and round-the-clock monitoring of celebrities like Paris and Kim Kardashian, who, for the first time ever, introduced a type of celebrity that was still novel at the time: the one who was famous for being famous (or in their particular cases, famous for having sex tapes leaked). In that regard, Norgo, Haines, and the other Bling Ring members—who were all ultimately charged—were not unlike to Hilton.
By disclosing in her 2020 documentary, This Is Paris, a history of anxiety resulting in part from repeated trauma at adolescent treatment centres, notably Utah's Provo Canyon School, which she visited at the age of 17, Hilton has recently provided context to her hard-partying early-aughts reputation. She testified before Congress in 2021 to demand federal change for youth congregate-care institutions. She shared her story in The Washington Post "One night, two men in handcuffs woke me up. As they carried me away from my house while I cried out for assistance, they asked me if I wanted to go "the easy way or the hard way." I was being taken against my will, and I had no idea why or where. I soon discovered that I was going to hell." Hilton also introduced the podcast Trapped in Treatment in 2021.
Walford said to Newsweek how they came to the decision to include Norgo's drug revelation regarding Paris "Obviously, they have the right to respond. They now have the chance to refute the claim that has been levelled. Additionally, since every instance is unique, you can never approach this with a broad brush. However, from what I hear, this was not the first time this had been reported. I believe that this has already been covered by the media."
Norgo has asserted time and time again that he and his companions stole a bag of cocaine when they broke into Paris' house.
Walford continued "As a result, if you can call it that, the accusation as a whole becomes less accusatory. However, as long as we hear from everyone who is advocating for the right to apply, that is OK legally. I believe that you really need to be careful about what you're allowing in and what you're allowing out if we're talking about something much more serious, like violent crimes or, you know, domestic abuse of some kind. However, after giving it due consideration in this particular instance, the attorneys determined that the comment may be left in as long as Paris was given the opportunity to respond, which she did."
The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist is currently available on Netflix in its entirety.
Paris Hilton's agents have been contacted by Newsweek for comment.