The Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower

V ictor Lustig – the con man who sold the Eiffel Tower twice. The Eiffel Tower gets struck by bolts of lightning around 10 times a year, according to Meteo France.

Who sold the Eiffel Tower?

The Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower. It was 1925 and Victor Lustig was sitting in his Paris hotel room reading a newspaper article about the Eiffel Tower. That gigantic structure had been built for the 1889 Paris World's Fair and was meant to be dismantled in 1909.

"Eiffel Tower" scam 

In 1925, Lustig traveled back to France. While staying in Paris, he chanced upon a newspaper article discussing the problems faced with maintaining the Eiffel Tower, which gave him inspiration for a new con. At the time, the monument had begun to fall into disrepair, and the city was finding it increasingly expensive to maintain and repaint it. Part of the article made a passing comment that overall public opinion on the monument would move towards calls for its removal, which was the key to convincing Lustig that using it as part of his next con would be lucrative. After researching what he needed to help him utilize the information from the article, Lustig set to work preparing the scam, which included hiring a forger to produce fake government stationery for him.

Once he was ready, Lustig invited a small group of scrap metal dealers to a confidential meeting at an expensive hotel, whereupon he identified himself to them as the Deputy Director-General of the Ministère de Postes et Télégraphes. In the meeting, he convinced the men that the upkeep of the Eiffel Tower was becoming too much for Paris and that the French government wished to sell it for scrap, but that because such a deal would be controversial and likely spark public outcry, nothing could be disclosed until all the details were thought out. Lustig revealed that he was in charge of selecting the dealer who would receive ownership of the structure, claiming that the group had been selected carefully because of their reputations as "honest businessmen". As part of his speech, he took in genuine insight about the monument's place in the city, and how it didn't fit in with the city's other great monuments like the Gothic cathedrals or the Arc de Triomphe.

During his time with the dealers, Lustig kept watching on who would be the most likely to fall for his scam and found his mark in André Poisson - an insecure man, who wished to rise up amongst the inner circles of the Parisian business community. As he showed the keenest interest in purchasing the monument, Lustig decided to focus on him once the dealers sent their bids to him. Arranging a private meeting with Poisson, Lustig convinced him that he was a corrupt official, claiming that his government position did not give him a generous salary for the lifestyle he wished to enjoy. Believing the sale of the Eiffel Tower would secure him a place amongst the top businessmen, Poisson agreed to pay a large bribe to secure ownership of the Eiffel Tower. However, once Lustig received his bribe and the funds for the monument's "sale", he soon fled to Austria.

Lustig suspected that when Poisson found out he had been conned, he would be too ashamed and embarrassed to inform the French police of what he had been caught up in, yet despite this belief, he maintained a check on newspapers while in Austria. His suspicions soon proved to be correct when he could find no reference of his con within their pages, and thus he decided to return to Paris later that year to pull off the scheme once more. However, when he attempted to con another group of dealers and had managed to find a mark among them willing to buy the Eiffel Tower, circumstances proved to be different - unlike with Poisson, the police were informed about the scam and sought to arrest him. Lustig was forced to flee to the United States as a direct result, to evade capture. (Copyright Source: Wikipedia)

How much money does the Eiffel Tower make each year?

The Eiffel Tower has been declared the most valuable monument in Europe - worth435 billion euros (£343 billion) to the French economy, a new study claims. The venerable Paris landmark was estimated to be worth six times its nearest rival, the Colosseum in Rome, valued at 91 billion euros (£72 billion).

How much would it cost to build the Eiffel Tower today?

The Eiffel Tower itself would be relatively simple to construct with modern engineering and construction - it's, after all, a tower constructed largely of iron. The original tower cost just shy of 8 million francs in 1889 (roughly, $40 million US in modern currency).


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