BULL STREET - The art of the Con

Worth His Salt

Everyone who is anyone knows who Sherlock Holmes is. And if you are a fan of Arthur Conan Doyle’s favorite fictional character, than you are equally as familiar with the infamous Professor Moriarity. Moriarity was evil personified and he would regularly get the most famous fictional detective in history into more harrowing experiences that you can shake a stick at. Moriarity seemed such a bizarre and brilliant character that essentially his persona was literally unbelievable. However, it turns out that he really lived and Conan Doyle had copied Moriarity’s character from the life of Adam Worth.

Worth eventually became a master criminal who primarily got his start by becoming a human chameleon. His family had emigrated to the United States without any knowledge of English whatsoever. He grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts where his father was a tailor. He was reaching his formative years when the Civil War commenced. He found out that both warring governments were paying a bounty in exchange for an enlistment. Worth enlisted early and often for both sides of the Mason Dixon Line. He played no favorites when he enlisted over and over again under one alias after another. He would form up with his new unit and then steal away in the darkness of night to re-up in another place. Every once in a while, Worth or whatever his name happened to be at the time was caught in a battle and became one of the only people to actively fight on both sides. However, he was probably the only one that did it using different names. His claim to fame during that period was that under one of his numerous identities, he was killed in the Battle of Bull run.

The war ended and the easy money vanished. He became a common pickpocket working the streets of New York.

“New York was then home to only 800,000 inhabitants; the city nevertheless supported 30,000 thieves, 20,000 prostitutes, 3,000 drinking dens and 2,000 gaming houses... His associates early on in the big city were folks with names like, Oysters Malloy, Gyp the Blood, Hell-Cat Maggie (who filed her teeth to points and had brass fingernails), the pirate Scotchy Lavelle (who later employed Irving Berlin as a singing waiter), Hungry Joe Lewis (who “diddled” Oscar Wilde out of $5,000 at banco) and Gallus Mage of the Hole-in the-Wall Saloon (who periodically bit off the ears of obstreperous customers and kept them in a pickle jar above the bar)..”[37]

However, his career came to a sudden halt when he was arrested while his hand was deeply immersed in another person’s pocket. Jail, especially the environment at Sing-Sing, didn’t sit well with him and he soon escaped by sliding down a drain the emptied into a railway tunnel. At the tender age of 20 he was back on Gotham’s streets once again, but this time he was working under the employ of the illustrious and large, Marm Mandelbaum who it has been said was the first to make crime operate similarly to a successful corporation.

He learned the lessons of organizing crime from soup to nuts from Marm and soon had outgrown here boisterous and domineering ways. This time he had become the headmaster of a gang that would do just about anything that he would think up for a fair share. As time passed, Worth started robbing banks, the pinnacle of that profession. He had as a reasonably young man accomplished literally everything that he had strived for in the New World and was determined to do the same in Europe.

In 1870 he headed for England where he immediately assumed the identity of Henry Raymond, an American that had first been a Congressman and then a Senator. The fact that Raymond had died some time earlier did not bother Worth a bit. As a matter of fact, being an ex American Senator held a lot of cache in Europe and Worth become so fond of his new identity that he carried it with him to the grave. Senator Raymond as he was now known decided to open an elegant Bar in central Paris and in 1871 it opened. He had gotten money from the Boylston Bank where the officers involved in his loan were of the belief that this American expatriate was really Senator Raymond. Naturally he had forged numerous documents, which insured his acceptance. This opulent palace soon developed a global reputation for loose women and had a convenient gambling casino located on the second floor. The American Bar soon became the hangout for most of the upper level con artists on the Continent as well as the officers and directors of Boylston Bank who didn’t have a clue about anything.

Worth ne Raymond was now hob knobbing with the royalty of Europe’s Criminals had was totally taken into their confidence. However, in the middle of this success, the Paris Police raided the gambling casino but the Senator escaped and took a fast ferry back to London. It was from fortress London that the Senator as he became know, organized the elite of the criminal element in Europe into a cohesive force and spent the next decade or pillaging the entire continent with the use of his highly loyal, remotely controlled army. He operated from a mansion in Clapham Common that had all of the accoutrements, the tennis court, the shooting gallery and the swimming pool. He had the box at the derby as well as the opera and owned just about the largest personal yacht in the country, an elegant vessel of 110 feet, which needed a score of hands just to guide it out of the harbor.

He wracked up some impressive hauls such as the Gainsborough owned by the Duchess of Devonshire which was always under his bed when he slept, diamonds which were pilfered directly from the safe at DeBeers in South Africa and the proceeds of the robbery of one of the biggest banks in Germany. Nevertheless, the Senator could have lived out his life without never again getting his hands dirty because while he plotted most of the serious crimes in Europe, nothing could ever traced back to him and his cohorts were not about to give him because he treated them well but ruled when necessary with a brutal iron fist. For whatever reason, the Senator actually become physically involved with the robbery of a train in Belgium and when Scotland Yard opened up their file to the police in that country, Worth had become a cooked goose without the basting.

He was not treated as an ex-American Senator while in the Belgium hoosegow. As a matter of fact the master of identities had been ruffed up a tad and summarily stuffed into a particularly dank section of facility. When Worth was released after five particularly long years, he was a broken man. His friends had stolen his money, his gangland friends had found greener pastures and he was so destitute that he returned the Gainesboro he had stolen years before from the Duchess in exchange for a paltry sum that he endowed to his children for their needs. The reigning regent of Criminal Societe and the absolute master the art of theft of identity died in 1902, and no one either knew or cared.

 

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