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The Bling Ring’s Rachel Lee Speaks Out for the First Time: ‘Prison Was a Blessing in Disguise’ (Exclusive)

The Bling Ring’s Rachel Lee Speaks Out For the First Time: ‘Prison Was a Blessing in Disguise’
Rachel Lee, who recently graduated from cosmetology school for hairstyling, is working on a screenplay for a TV drama. Courtesy of Rachel Lee

Rachel Lee has broken her silence on her involvement with The Bling Ring nearly a decade since the group of teenagers and 20-somethings robbed the homes of celebrities including Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton.

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Lee, 28, became infamous in 2010 after she and a few of her peers — Alexis Neiers, Nick Prugo, Diana Tamayo and Courtney Ames — were exposed as the burglars who had made headlines for breaking into the homes of Lohan, Hilton, Audrina Patridge, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson and many others. The group, also known as the Burglar Bunch, robbed an estimated $3 million-worth of designer clothing, jewelry and cash between 2008 and 2009. Lee, who was known as the ringleader of the Bling Ring, was sentenced to 16 months in prison for her role in the robberies. Neiers and Prugo also served time for their participation in the heists.

“As a teen, I was chasing love in all the wrong places and by the time I realized, it was too late and I was in prison. I truly feel prison was a blessing in disguise — the best thing that ever happened to me,” Lee exclusively tells Us Weekly. “It made me realize you can only trust yourself at the end of the day.”

The Bling Ring’s Rachel Lee Speaks Out For the First Time: ‘Prison Was a Blessing in Disguise’
Rachel Lee, mugshot. Courtesy of LAPD

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The group’s antics inspired two movies — one directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Emma Watson — and a book by New York Times best-selling author Nancy Jo Sales. Life nearly imitated art when Lee ran into Watson, who played Pretty Wild’s Neiers in Coppola’s adaption, at a bar during the Super Bowl in 2017. “I walked up to her and I said, ‘Hi, my name is Rachel. I just wanted to introduce myself because you were in a movie based upon my life. I actually had the chance to work on the movie but I didn’t feel comfortable at the time.’ And she put out her hand and said, ‘It’s nice to meet you.’”

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Following her prison stint, Lee retreated from the spotlight and most recently graduated cosmetology school. But she acknowledges her mistakes — and is eager to put the past behind her. “If I could do it all over again I would’ve made the right choices instead of the wrong ones,” she tells Us. “I would’ve changed a lot.”

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