8 celebrities who were kidnapped … and survived: Kim K was tied up in Paris, Jessica Alba got abducted at 15, Benedict Cumberbatch was held at gunpoint – and Carina Lau faced a media nightmare
Being rich and famous obviously has its upsides, but the downsides can be notoriously dangerous. As many celebrities have experienced from being in the spotlight, fans – and haters – can become obsessive, and sometimes it can go too far. However, in most cases of celebrity kidnappings, it’s really about the money.
So, which A-listers have been kidnapped … and survived?
1. Jessica Alba
Alba was acting in Flipper at age 14 when she began getting strange phone calls on set. Soon after, she disappeared from filming and went missing for 14 hours. According to reports, she was found blindfolded, gagged and restrained in the boot of a car. The Fantastic Four star never spoke publicly about the horrific incident, and apparently, the case was closed as she was unable to provide further information. These days, understandably, she keeps her private life under wraps.
2. Benedict Cumberbatch
3. Justin Long
In 2019, Long revealed on Dax Shepard’s podcast Armchair Expert how he was drugged and kidnapped back in 2008 during the filming of Youth In Revolt in Michigan. People were starting to recognise him from films and he was also known for dating Drew Barrymore at the time.
He spoke about how two men had approached him and a handful of others working in the film in a bar, and asked if they wanted to get in their car and go to a casino. At one point, they convinced him to take a hit of marijuana, but Long believes it actually contained a hallucinogen, likely PCP. Long said that the men discussed filming videos of him and joked that they’d send them to TMZ. Panicking, Long decided to jump out of the vehicle, injuring his leg in the process. His two PAs also managed to escape, but Long said he never went to the police to report the case.
4. Kim Kardashian
Kardashian was in her hotel in Paris when two men knocked on the door dressed as policemen, she recalled to David Letterman in an interview. Wearing just a dressing gown, she was tied up with plastic cables and they put duct tape over her eyes, mouth and legs.
It’s believed they made off with her US$4 million engagement ring from Kanye West in addition to two diamond Cartier bracelets and a gold Rolex, People reported at the time. In total, around US$10 million worth of jewellery was taken. A source told the publication that she managed to free herself and screamed for help.
Safe to say, Kim has upped her security since. According to E! Online in 2021, 12 people were charged in connection with the armed robbery, and one of them even wrote a book about it, J’ai Séquestré Kim Kardashian (I kidnapped Kim Kardashian).
Welsh singer Duffy disappeared from the spotlight for a decade after surviving a traumatic incident. In 2020, she wrote a 3,600-word post on her website with details about her assault and captivity, but did not reveal the identity of the kidnapper.
“I was drugged at a restaurant, I was drugged then for four weeks and travelled to a foreign country,” she said, “I was put into a hotel room and the perpetrator returned and raped me.” She concluded, “I can now leave this decade behind … and I am free.”
6 and 7. Shin Sang-ok and Choi Eun-hee
Beloved South Korean actress Choi Eun-hee was kidnapped at the behest of North Korean leader-in-waiting Kim Jong-il in 1978, with her film director ex-husband Shin Sang-ok suffering the same fate just months later.
According to the BBC, the couple had divorced two years before, and Choi’s star was starting to wane. She was approached by someone pretending to be a businessman and was lured to Hong Kong, where she was captured and sedated, according to a book about the case, A Kim Jong-il Production. Shin arrived in Hong Kong to try look for her, but was also abducted.
Kim was believed to be something of a Hollywood film buff, and wanted the pair to make films to put North Korean moving making on the international map. Shin and Choi managed to win his trust enough to be sent to Vienna and promote the films. Here, they sought political asylum at the US embassy before returning to South Korea years later, where they remarried.
8. Carina Lau
When her husband heard what happened, he was in the middle of shooting, but immediately told the director to stop and accompanied his friend Jacky Cheung to go out looking for her. Three hours later, she suddenly reappeared back at the house. According to Reuters, she didn’t report it to the police.
A close call: Victoria Beckham
- Hong Kong icon Carina Lau was on her way to TVB’s Eric Tsang’s house when she was kidnapped, and her husband Tony Leung and friend Jacky Cheung began a frantic search
- Duffy disappeared from the spotlight after a traumatic abduction, while Shin Sang-ok and Choi Eun-hee were taken by North Korea’s Kim Jong-il to make films for him