Victor Lustig is the man who sold the Eiffel Tower. And no less than twice. This is probably one of the most ingenious crooks of his time.
Gifted child of bourgeois origin, Victor Lustig began his career as a pimp at 19 years old. Criminal learning that leads him to specialize in the scam.
The man who sold the Eiffel Tower
He later became player-cheater on cruise ships but the war will break his business so attractive.
It is in the new world that he continues his crook career, but tired of being prosecuted by all U.S. policies, he returned to France and surfaced in Paris in 1925.
On a beautiful morning in April 1925, Baron Lustig as he liked to be called, has got a brilliant idea by reading a newspaper article that mentions the Eiffel Tower will undergo major works.
He then decides to pass himself off as the managing adjudicator of the City of Paris.
Victor Lustig sniffs the coup of the century
Therefore, he calls in the most important scrap merchants of the city of Paris.
The meeting was held in one of the largest Parisian palaces, away from indiscreet eyes, where the managing adjudicator baron of the city of Paris alias Victor Lustig tells his audience that out of lack of profitability, the Eiffel Tower will be dismantled and the city of Paris offers the 7,000 tons of iron to the highest bidder.
Of course, this is an official secret and absolute discretion is required for all participants of this appointment. The scrap merchants have five days to make their proposals.
The golden bait was risen by a certain André Poisson, it cannot be invented, who not only gave a check to acquire the Eiffel Tower but also a second by way of gratitude for the deal we will never know the amounts paid.
As for our dear Mr. Poisson, he will not benefit from its acquisition and on top of that had wiped the laughs of the guards the Eiffel Tower when he stands with his pseudo title deed.
Humiliated, it will never complain.
Victor Lustig does not profit him neither from his ill-gotten gains.
Immediately after collecting his checks, he takes the train to Austria. After some time in Vienna, he returned to Paris to resume his scams. On the contrary, he does not have the same luck this time: the second “Mr. Poisson” quickly finds out the secret and the baron had to vanish by boat to New York, at top speed.
Victor Lustig will take no less than 22 pseudonyms during his crook career. He even affords the luxury to swindle Al Capone.
He ended his days in Alcatraz where he spent 12 years before dying.