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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Stolen: The Empire State Building

William Sherman (shown at right), a reporter for the New York Daily News, engineered what must be one of the grandest thefts ever: the entire Empire State Building.

And it took him just ninety minutes to do it.

Sherman and the Daily News forged documents and even faked a notary stamp, then presented it all to the clerks in charge of New York City's deeds and mortgages. Among the witnesses for the fraudulent transfer was Fay Wray, the starlet of 1933's King Kong. An hour and a half after beginning the paperwork in the city's offices, Sherman walked out with the Empire State Building in his pocket (figuratively 'course).

The whole plot was hatched by the New York Daily News to focus attention on the shoddy attention that the city's personnel pays to property transfers and the like. There have been some real problems with con artists taking advantage of the lack of oversight. One man skipped town with over a half-million dollars gained through mortgage fraud, and another wound up heisting seven city-owned buildings in Queens.

I wonder how far someone could get away with doing this trick on the Jefferson Pilot Building in Greensboro... :-P