Is Netflix’s ‘Money Heist’ based on a true story?
(Credit: Netflix)

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Is Netflix’s 'Money Heist' based on a true story?

Red overalls and Dali masks galore, Money Heist, is the series set in Madrid. A charming and mysterious man called “El Professor” recruits an oddball and idiosyncratic group of eight to carry out heists in the Royal Mint of Spain. They also sack the Bank of Spain, deal with hostages and police, and other enemies while the Professor, the mastermind, conducts the entire heist. 

Created by Alex Pina, the show has not only subverted the typical heist genre but also given it a strong Spanish identity. Unlike every male-centric hypermasculine heist film, this Money Heist has plenty of strong female leads who change the course of the story with their shrewd cunning as well as wit. 

After the greatest heist in history came to an end with the fifth and final season of Money Heist in a nail-biting finale that finally saw the gang crooning to Bella Ciao, fans have bid a bittersweet goodbye to their favourite show whose legacy and impact lives beyond mere ratings and revenue.

A silent call for revolution, Money Heist has also helped popularise the language and induce an innate interest in Spanish pop-cultural elements. 

However, many wonder if the show is based on actual events or totally fictional. Here, we attempt to debunk myths regarding whether Money Heist is based on a true story or not: 

What does ‘La Casa de Papel’ mean? 

The Spanish phrase ‘La Casa de Papel’, which is the original title for Money Heist, translates to The Paper House or The House of Paper. Paper is a colloquial reference to money which basically makes the title refer to The House of Money. In Germany, the show is called Haus des Geldes. 

Is Money Heist fact or fiction? 

The premise of Money Heist involving the Professor and his ragtag team of idiosyncratic robbers who carry out the dangerously ambitious 11-day heist is purely fictional, bereaved by the creative ingenuity of the showrunner Alex Pina. 

However, the show does derive certain elements from real life. Firstly, the show catapulted the remix bop version of the Italian Resistance folk song ‘Bella Ciao’ to fame after using it for some of its most crucial scenes. The robbers are also seen wearing the iconic Salvador Dali masks that are considered an emblem of transcending social conventions due to the painter himself rejecting social norms via his surrealist works in the early 20th century. The red overalls the robbers are clad in are also a direct reference to socialism and the all-governing idea of equitable distribution of wealth among the masses. 

Did the Royal Mint of Spain ever get robbed? 

The Royal Mint of Spain has never been robbed. However, during the civil war, the gold reserves of the Bank of Spain had allegedly been moved to the URSS for protection which has not been returned to date. 

Although the series is based in the Royal Mint of Spain, the building shown in the series is the Spanish National Research Council.

How did Alex Pina and Netflix create Money Heist

The show was originally aired on Spanish channels, where the lack of viewership made them cancel the series after the first season. The cast and crew, including Ursula Corbero and Alvaro Morte, had said their goodbyes and moved on with their lives.

Although Pina never wanted to helm the failed project again, he believed in its potential and chased the VP of Spanish Original content at Netflix, Diego Avalos, down a hotel corridor to give him the pen drive that contained the idea for the show. In his flight back to Los Angeles, Avalos was so invested in the riveting premise that he had supposedly chanced upon the streamer’s next show.

This proved to be the best decision he ever made as Money Heist, finally headed by Pina after much persuasion, went on to become one of Netflix’s most popular ventures. The original cast and crew returned to create this blockbuster with revamped content that saw four long years of drama, frenzy, glory, and political commentaries with a brilliant genre-defining legacy.