The 7 most shocking revelations from Netflix’s “The Real Bling Ring” docuseries

The three-part series spotlights two members of the infamous crew along with investigators and attorneys

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published September 22, 2022 7:25PM (EDT)

Paris Hilton (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Paris Hilton (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Years after their string of celebrity burglaries, The Bling Ring still remains an infamous name in Hollywood.

Between October 2008 and August 2009, the crew of seven fame-hungry teens broke into the homes of several celebrities — including Paris Hilton, Audrina Patridge, Rachel Bilson, Orlando Bloom and Lindsay Lohan — and stole an estimated $3 million in cash and belongings. The members were subsequently tried and convicted and were all found guilty on several counts of residential burglary despite their pleas.

A year after their misdeeds were publicly blasted, The Bling Ring earned a Vanity Fair profile, written by veteran journalist Nancy Jo Sales and aptly titled "The Suspects Wore Louboutins." And three years later, the piece garnered a film adaptation — Sofia Coppola's glitzy satirical crime film, simply called "The Bling Ring" — with Emma Watson, Katie Chang and Israel Broussard starring as the group's ringleaders.

Now, the bombshell tale is being spotlighted again in Netflix's latest docuseries, "The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist." The three-part series stars two members of the group, Nick Prugo and Alexis Neiers, who recount their involvement and attempt to set the record straight on the crimes, despite their contradictory firsthand accounts. A swanky real estate agent, a celebrity stylist and the investigators and attorneys who were all part of the case provide additional insight and background information to really provide a "fly-on-the-wall" viewing experience.

Here are 7 shocking revelations from the docuseries: 

Prugo's string of vehicle thefts
The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood HeistNicholas Prugo from "The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist" (Netflix)The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood HeistThe Real Bling Ring: Hollywood HeistNicholas Prugo from "The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist" (Netflix)
Prugo said he went through a rough patch in his life during his early teen years. He struggled to come to terms with his own sexuality and appearance and suffered from newfound anxiety, which became so overwhelming that he stopped pursuing his passion for acting. To make matters worse, he and his family moved from the quiet, middle class neighborhood of San Fernando Valley to the wealthier Calabasas (which is home to celebrities like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Drake and The Weeknd).
"Going to school, you would literally see Mercedes, Range Rovers, Porches, BMWs," Prugo recalled. "My mom was dropping me off in a Honda. You feel like you're sticking out, and not in a good way."
Things seemingly got better when he met Rachel Lee, a girl at his new school who Prugo described as everything he wasn't — Lee was incredibly confident, popular, social and pretty.
"She kind of took a shine to me," he said. "She brought me out of my shell." Similar to Prugo, Lee was fascinated by entertainment, celebrity culture, gossip and partying.
One night, the pair was leaving a party in the Valley when Lee broke into an unlocked car after playing with its door handle. They stole all the credit cards that were left inside and the following day, went on an extravagant shopping spree.
Prugo said he felt confident around Lee and continued helping her carry out vehicle thefts in order to maintain their friendship. After a night of partying, they would drive around Calabasas and search for unlocked cars to steal from. Prugo would drive while Lee, from the passengers seat, would discreetly stick her hand out to check the door handles.
On a separate night, Lee came across an unlocked car with the keys still inside the vehicle. She stole the keys and the car, later replacing its license plate and driving the vehicle to school.
Neiers' sticky family situation
The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood HeistAlexis Neiers from "The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist" (Netflix)Alexis Neiers from "The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist" (Netflix)
Unlike Prugo, Neiers grew up in an affluent household with her father Michael, who worked as the director of photography on "Friends;" her mother Andrea, a former Playboy model turned actress; and her sister Gabbie.
Neiers' parents were heavy drinkers and partiers and her mother also used cocaine for years, even following her birth.
"But when she was having kids, my mom was kind of ready to grow up, and my dad was not," Neiers said. Andrea and Michael split after the latter was caught cheating.
"After the divorce, we probably moved nine times," Neiers continued. "I was like a needy, broken, damaged kid at that point. And I was angry."
Neiers, Andrea and Gabbie quickly fell into debt because of Andrea's extravagant purchases. Although the family didn't have a steady income, thousands of dollars would be spent on expensive beauty treatments and procedures.
"My mom had a cellulite machine that cost like $30,000," Gabbie recalled. "We had different facial infrared light machines. Everything was [centered] around beauty and weight loss."
The family eventually filed for bankruptcy and to make up for their lack of money, Andrea became a minister at the Church of Religious Science, which was said to be a cross between Buddhism and witchcraft. The church preached the importance of using one's thoughts and emotions to create their desired life — also known as the Law of Attraction — which Andrea embraced wholeheartedly. She created a vision board covered with magazine clippings, family photos and, oddly, a single million-dollar bill in hopes of successfully "attracting" careers for herself and her family in the entertainment industry.
Andrea also wrote a lengthy affirmation for her family to recite daily. Every morning, they would gather in a circle, hold hands and recite their affirmation.
"My mom really dove into that church specifically because she wanted to believe that she could think away her problems," Neiers said.
Prugo and Lee break into their first house
The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood HeistNicholas Prugo from "The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist" (Netflix)Nicholas Prugo from "The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist" (Netflix)
The pair eventually ran out of cars to steal from and began breaking into and robbing homes. Their first victim was an old acquaintance of Prugo who announced online that he was traveling to Jamaica for 11 days. Both Prugo and Lee broke into his house via the back door, which was left unlocked, and stole a case filled with $8,000 in cash.
"It was like, you know, the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other," Prugo said. "This was different than stealing cars. This felt more personal."
Thus far, Prugo and Lee had not been caught for their crimes which encouraged them to move onto bigger, more risky endeavors — robbing celebrity homes. 
Neiers' exploitative modeling gig
The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood HeistAlexis Neiers from "The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist" (Netflix)Alexis Neiers from "The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist" (Netflix)
During her teen years, Neiers' childhood best friend, Tess Taylor, moved in with her and her family. According to Neiers, they both spent most of their time smoking weed and doing drugs until Andrea encouraged the girls to find a job. Together, they pursued careers in modeling and per Andrea's request, Neiers and Taylor worked as pin-up models.
"It's everything I had been doing my entire life from the time I was 14, using my looks and my personality to earn money," said Andrea, who also claimed in the documentary that her daughter willingly chose her profession. "And they started to have some success."
At just 17 years of age, the girls starred as background dancers in Marilyn Manson's music video for "Arma-goddamn-motherf**kin-geddon," where they appeared naked behind a thin sheet of cloth next to Manson. Neiers said she and Taylor had also been drinking pretty heavily and that the set felt like a "night-long party."
"I liked the rush and the excitement. It was unlike anything that I had experienced," Neiers recalled. "And I remember just thinking to myself, like, 'Wow. If I can just party like that and get paid, we are golden. This is all that I need for the rest of my life."
She added, "You sell your soul to the devil."
Prugo and Lee break into Paris Hilton's house
Paris HiltonParis Hilton (Pascal Le Segretain/amfAR12/Getty Images for amfAR)
The duo settled on Paris Hilton as their first celebrity victim after they learned from several gossip sites that Hilton was on vacation in Miami. Per Prugo, Hilton gave off a stereotypical dumb blonde persona which made her "more prone to leaving something unlocked."
Prugo also came across a website that included a list of celebrities' home addresses. The pair used Google Maps to scope out the surrounding trail and terrain of Hilton's house before breaking and entering via the front door, which was left unlocked. Prugo recalled that Hilton's house was obscenely large and had multiple photographs of herself in each room. Lee and Prugo spent most of their time in Hilton's closets, stealing her valuables, clothes, jewelry, shoes, sunglasses, spare change and luxury attire. Collectively, the pair stole an estimated $50,000 worth of Hilton's property.
After the burglary, the pair went partying at a nearby club where they met Neiers and Taylor. In order to sustain this newfound friendship, Prugo said he and Lee continued robbing Hilton of more goods — kind of using Hilton as their "personal ATM machine." Between the months of October and December, the pair broke into Hilton's home an estimated four or five times.
During one of these break-ins, Prugo and Lee stole a bag of Hilton's cocaine. "Her coke was like 'Scarface' coke," Prugo enthusiastically recalled. "That was the best coke I'd ever done, I mean, just pure, like 'F**k!' you know?"
"We were doing Paris Hilton's coke. Who the f**k can say that?"
Eventually, Prugo and Lee stole all of Hilton's spare cash that was stashed in her purses and safe. Knowing that they would be caught once Hilton returned home and that the news would break out immediately, they enlisted Lee's old friend — Courtney Ames' coworker, Roy Lopez — and attempted to frame him for their crimes. Prugo gave Lopez the key to Hilton's residence and he used it to steal two million dollars' worth of Hilton's jewelry. The following day, news of Hilton's home burglary broke out with Lopez positioned as the main suspect.
Prugo, Lee and Neiers rob Orlando Bloom's house
Orlando BloomOrlando Bloom (David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Neiers eventually moved in with Prugo and per the latter, first expressed interest in joining Prugo and Lee.


"This was me and Rachel's thing," Prugo said in the documentary. "I didn't really want to expand the enterprise. I think I was smart enough to realize, you have to share more the more people that are there, it's less of a profit. So it was on to the next."


Their next victim was actor Orlando Bloom who, at the time, was working on a movie and away from his Los Angeles home. Prugo said he was initially planning on robbing Bloom's house with Rachel, but Neiers had "begged" him to join. Neiers, however, refuted the claims, stating, "I wasn't saying, 'Hey, Nick, next time you rob a house, involve me.' But I was open to the idea of robbing a house to get money for drugs." She also said she was unaware that the trio were going to Bloom's house, adding that she was under the influence of opiates and Benzodiazepine. But Prugo asserted she was aware and sober.


Prugo and Lee spent most of their time in Bloom's closets, stealing his clothes, a Louis Vuitton computer bag, Rolex watches, cash and accessories. Neiers recalled feeling sick throughout the burglary while Prugo said she was enthusiastically stuffing her bag with stolen goods.


The following morning, Bloom's home break-in became public news. Investigators also noted that the same group of teens who broke into Bloom's house had also broken into Audrina Patridge's home just a few months prior.


"We felt like criminals in the most chic way," Prugo said. "We felt like we were these, like, maybe sexy bandits committing these intelligent cat burglaries…We wanted to be our own celebrity, just using other people's shit."


Prugo said he continued committing these burglaries alongside Lee to promote a lavish lifestyle he concocted on social media. On August 23, 2009, the duo, alongside their classmate, Diana Tamayo, broke into Lindsay Lohan's Hollywood Hills residence and stole approximately $130,000 worth of clothes and jewelry. Unfortunately, Lohan's security cameras were able to provide clear footage of the perpetrators' facial features. Prugo and Lee were eventually arrested after Neiers and Taylor called the Hollywood Police Department and turned them in.

The subsequent criminal proceedings
Nicholas Frank Prugo and Courtney Ames flank Prugo's lawyer Sean ErenstoftNicholas Frank Prugo (R) and Courtney Ames (L) flank Prugo's lawyer Sean Erenstoft (C) as he speaks at the arraignment of Prugo and Ames at criminal court in Los Angeles, California on December 2, 2009. (ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
Following his arrest, Prugo confessed that he and Lee were planning on stealing from more celebrities, which prompted the Los Angeles Police Department to issue search warrants for the accompanying Bling Ring members. Neiers and Tamayo were eventually arrested after police found that they were in possession of stolen goods.
Neiers' court proceedings were publicly documented on her family's reality television show, "Pretty Wild," which she described as being an incredibly traumatic experience. Amidst the hoopla, Neiers said that the show's producers made her reenact and sensationalize key moments from her arrest which greatly took a toll on her mentally and fueled her heroin addiction.
"By the time I got to jail, I had nothing," Neiers said in the documentary. "The show was over. At that point, my addiction was really bad and I was literally losing my mind. I just wanted to die. I was done."
Neiers pleaded no contest to residential burglary and was officially sentenced on May 10, 2010 to three years of formal probation and 180 days in county jail; in addition to owing $600,000 in restitution to Bloom. She was released after serving 30 days of her sentence. Currently she has been sober for 11 years, has two children and works as an advocate for people recovering from substance abuse.
As for Prugo, he dropped his initial attorney, Sean Erenstoft, for attorney Markus Mueller-Dombois and was officially sentenced to two years in prison on April 15, 2013 after pleading no contest to the residential burglaries of both Patridge and Lohan.
Per the documentary, Prugo is currently applying for a certificate of rehabilitation and a Governor's pardon. He also runs an online business with his husband of five years. 

"The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist" is available for streaming on Netflix. Watch a trailer below, via YouTube:


By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon, covering Culture and Food. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


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Burglaries Documentary Docuseries Lists Netflix Paris Hilton The Real Bling Ring True Crime