Once upon a time, there was an Eiffel Tower, built for the 1889 World’s Fair, which was the subject of the maddest and cheekiest of scams. The monument was originally meant to be temporary, in place for just 20 years.
And so it was, in the 1920s, that one of the greatest swindles in the world took place, after an article published in the press on the future fate of the Eiffel Tower. The article criticized the “scrapheap” whose upkeep came with a colossal price tag. Victor Lustig, the son of a bourgeois Czech family, was a con artist and no stranger to shady dealings, So, he came up with the idea of selling the Tower to a scrap metal dealer! Thanks to his knowledge, he was able to summon the five biggest scrap dealers by official letter, calling himself the State’s special representative.
How much does the Eiffel Tower weigh? No fewer than 7,300 tonnes of iron! A scrap metal dealer, Mr Poisson, would fall victim to the fraud. The amount was never revealed, and no complaint was ever lodged. Victor Lustig went into exile in the United States. After attempting new scams there, he eventually died in 1947, while imprisoned at Alcatraz. What a funny character! And indeed, “lustig” is German for funny! 😉