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Victor Lustig

The Man Who Conned the World

Christopher Sandford

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Sachbuch / Biographien, Autobiographien


The period after the First World War was a golden age for the confidence man. ‘A new kind of entrepreneur is stirring amongst us,’ The Times wrote in 1919. ‘He is prone to the most detestable tactics, and is a stranger to charity and public spirit. One may nonetheless note his acuity in separating others from their money.’

Enter Victor Lustig (not his real name). An Austro-Hungarian with a dark streak, by the age of sixteen he had learned how to hustle at billiards and lay odds at the local racecourse. By nineteen he had acquired a livid facial scar in an altercation with a jealous husband. 

That blemish aside, he was a man of athletic good looks, with a taste for larceny and foreign intrigue. He spoke six languages and went under nearly as many aliases in the course of a continent-hopping life that also saw him act as a double (or possibly triple) agent. Along the way, he found time to dupe an impressive variety of banks and hotels on both sides of the Atlantic; to escape from no fewer than three supposedly impregnable prisons; and to swindle Al Capone out of thousands of dollars, while living to tell the tale. Undoubtedly the greatest of his hoaxes was the sale, to a wealthy but gullible Parisian scrap-metal dealer, of the Eiffel Tower in 1925.

In a narrative that thrills like a crime caper, best-selling biographer Christopher Sandford draws on newly released documents to tell the whole story of the greatest conman of the twentieth century.

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Victor Lustig, The Man Who Sold the World, thriller, al capone, eiffel tower, rumanian box, con-man, conman, con artist, austro-hungar, alcatraz, france, germany, french archives nationales, crime, true crime, world war