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Posts Tagged ‘Murder Inc.’

The Death of Albert Anastasia Featured Image Park Central Barbershop

Address:870 7th Avenue

Status: Starbucks  

Now a Starbucks like everything else in New York City, the old barbershop in the Park Central Sheraton Hotel may be one of the most infamous spots in Manhattan. The Park Sheraton hosted two of Manhattan’s most notorious mob hits. On November 4th, 1928, Arnold Rothstein walked into the Park Central’s front door and few hours later he spilled out of the service entrance with a bullet in his gut (click to read the Death of Arnold Rothstein). 29 years later, the Park Central would see blood again, but this time in its barbershop.

 

Two hitmen rubbed out Albert Anastasia in the Park Central Sheraton Hotel located at 870 7th Avenue.

Two hitmen rubbed out Albert Anastasia in the Park Central Sheraton Hotel located at 870 7th Avenue.

Albert Anastasia’s Last Shave

 

At 10:30 A.M., October 25, 1957, Albert Anastasia, the highlord executioner of the mob and retired CEO of Murder Inc., strutted into Grasso’s Barber shop in The Park Sheraton Hotel with his pint sized godson and protege, Vincent Squillante. The duo plopped down into barber chairs (now in the Mob Museum) and ordered shaves and haircuts, unusual behavior considering a massive mob war had just been averted.

 

The old barbershop in the Park Central Sheraton Hotel is now a Starbucks like everything else in New York City. Death of Albert Anastasia

The old barbershop in the Park Central Sheraton Hotel is now a Starbucks like everything else in New York City.

 

Anastasia nearly went to the mattresses five months earlier by declaring war on Vito Genovese for an attempted rubout of Frank Costello (Click to read the story about Frank Costello). After threatening scorched-earth revenge, The Highlord Executioner had assurances from the Five Families that there would be no bloodshed. According to Joseph Bonanno:

 

“…Anastasia and Genovese met at a select dinner gathering… Albert and Vito exchanged accusations and made counter charges. They clarified and rationalized their positions. But at last, though reluctantly, they renounced going to war against each other. The rest of us raised our glasses in a toast for peace. Albert and Vito kissed each other on the cheek.” – Joseph Bonanno, Man of Honor

 

Now at the apex of his power, Anastasia sat back and let his barber cover his face with piping hot towels. The bad blood had coagulated and Genovese could be trusted, or so Anastasia thought. According to Bonanno, Albert finally conquered his explosive temper. He had matured, and it would cost him his life.

 

The Trifecta: Gambino, Genovese, Lucchese

 

Rather than blood feuding with Genovese, Anastasia spent the next few months expanding his empire into Cuban casinos with Santos Trafficante and built a mansion in Fort Lee., while Genovese maneuvered to overthrow the CEO of Murder Inc.

Genovese and Lucchese crept through the underworld seeking tacit approval for the death of Anastasia. They contacted Meyer Lansky and wooed Carlo Gambino, Anastasia’s underboss, to set up Anastasia’s downfall.

 

The Missing Bodyguard

 

For a man who dealt in death his entire life, Al Anastasia threw caution to the wind. Arrested for homicide six times with diverse weapons which ranged from ice picks to revolvers, Anastasia perfected the unsolvable mob hit and the “one way ride”.

 

Squillante

Anastasia’s protege, Vincent Squillante survived the barbershop attack.

 

Despite the homicidal resume, Anastasia had gotten lax. On the day of his assassination, his bodyguard and chauffeur, Anthony Copolla, was nowhere to be found. Copolla dropped Anastasia off at the barbershop, parked the Chevy in a lot and never returned. Even more unthinkable, the mobster took a barber chair with his back facing the door. A setup loomed and the new mature  Anastasia missed the tell-tale signs.

 

The Barbershop Quintet

 

The attack was a classic mob hit. Two identically dressed gunmen hidden beneath aviator sunglasses, fedoras, and scarves wrapped around their faces walked into the hotel lobby. A wheelman and lookout in the lobby were waiting for them outside.

 

DSCN0802

The renovated lobby of the Park Central Hotel. The door into the barbershop (now Starbucks has been removed).

 

Entering from the lobby, the gunmen walked around a partition which screens the shop’s chairs and walked directly to Chair No. 4, taking aim at Anastasia’s back. One hitman strode to the left of Anastasia and pushed aside the barber with the muzzle of his gun. The other killer strode to Anastasia’s right. Suddenly, they opened fire with their .32 and .38 caliber revolvers.

Five bullets tore into the mafia chieftain. Dazed, Anastasia lunged at his own reflection in the mirror before collapsing into a heap of bloody towels. The hit squad fled through the lobby sparing both the barber, and Squillante, Anastasia’s protege, who yelped, “Let me outta here!”

Albert Anastasia was gunned down in the Park Central Hotel.

Albert Anastasia was gunned down in the Park Central Hotel.

Who Murdered Anastasia?

 

The police never apprehended the mob hitmen and the crime remains unsolved. According to New York magazine, a police informant named Sidney Slater claimed Crazy Joe Gallo bragged that the rubout was the handywork of his hit team. According to New York Magazine, Crazy Joe remarked:

 

“From now on Sidney… You can just call the five of us the barbershop quintet.” New York Magazine, 1972- The Mafia at War.

 

Unsanctioned by the Mafia Commission, the hit squad consisted of Crazy Joe Gallo, Joseph Gioielli, Carmine Persico, Albert Gallo and an unidentified co-conspirator.

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Salvatore Maranzano, Helmsley Building, New York Central Building

The Helmsley Building is the site of the Salvatore Maranzano Murder.

230 Park Ave.

Status: Landmarked

 

By the fall of 1931, Salvatore Maranzano had clawed his way to the pinnacle of the New York underworld, one bullet riddled corpse named Giuseppe at a time. During the 1930-31 Castellammarese Mafia War, the Julius Caesar obsessed mob chieftain and his allies roved the Five Boroughs in bulletproof Cadillacs, equipped with swivel mounted belt-fed machine guns, popping Giuseppes like squirrels.

 

First to eat lead was Giuseppe “The Clutch Hand” Morello, the claw fingered capo de tutti capo of the New York Mafia, and his aide, Giuseppe Pirariano. Next to be fitted for pine overcoats by Maranzano’s torpedos were Giuseppe “Fat Joe” Pinzolo and Giuseppe “Joe the Baker” Catania, leaving behind one last living Giuseppe. Maranzano’s arch rival: the corpulent, bullet dodging, Giuseppe “Joe the Boss” Massaeria.

 

GiuseppeMasseria

Giuseppe “Joe The Boss” Masseria was the last Giuseppe to feel Maranzano’s bite.

 

Walking with Vanderbilts

 

Working with the vigor of a machine age tycoon, Maranzano put the blast to last of his rivals, convinced Lucky Luciano to betray his overlord, Joe the Boss, and unified the American Mafia, like Rockefeller had monopolized oil. And like Rockefeller, Gotham’s newest kingpin needed a headquarters befitting his swollen ego, a command center that projected opulence and power and sophistication, a place where Maranzano could rub shoulders with Vanderbilts, stock brokers, and advertising execs.

 

That place was the New York Central Railroad Building at 230 Park Avenue.  A sky-scraping, neo-renaissance, 32 story spire, rising out of the center of Park Avenue, the New York Central Building (now the Helmsely Building), as it was then called, towered over Grand Central Station, giving William K. Vanderbilt II’s office a majestic panorama of the city. It would be a picturesque spot for a gangland assassination.

 

HelmsleyBuilding2Web

After unifying the the American Mafia, Salvatore Maranzano moved his offices to the New York Central Railroad Building, a place where he could rub shoulders with stock brokers and Vanderbilts.

A Vast Criminal Empire

 

From the 9th floor office of his Eagle Building Corporation, Maranzano oversaw a vast criminal empire of speakeasies, hard cider farms, and a fishing fleet that fronted for a $20 million a year immigrant smuggling network. However, a scant three months into his reign, the empire began to crumble. IRS agents were battering down the doors, the INS wanted him deported, and Lucky Luciano wanted him dead, a problem Maranzano hoped to remedy at 2:00pm, September 30, 1931.

 

Helmsley_Building

Now known as the Helmsley Building, The New York Central Building would be a picturesque location for the murder of Salvatore Maranzano.

 

Double Booking A Meeting with Death

 

It seems Maranzano had double booked a meeting with Luciano to coincide with a courtesy-call by noted machine gun artist, freelance assassin, and all around psychopath, Vincent “Mad Dog” Coll. But as usual, Lucky was lucky.  A four man team of Murder Inc. shooters from Meyer Lansky’s and Dutch Shultz’s mobs arrived on Luciano’s behalf, beating Coll to the punch.

 

Salvatore Maranzano, Lucky Luciano, Mad Dog Coll, Joe the Boss Masseria,

Maranzano’s office was in the New York Central Building, 230 Park Avenue.

 

Whipping out detective’s badges, the revolver brandishing assassins howled, “We’re the police,”  before lining-up everyone in the office against a wall. Snapping open switchblades, they stormed Maranzano’s private chamber, hoping to silently eliminate the mob boss, but their target proved tougher than a billy goat.

Murder_Inc

Yelling, “We’re the police” Four Murder Inc. gunmen posing as plain clothes detectives stormed Maranzano’s office.

Maranzano Tough as an Old Billy Goat

 

A flurry of rights and lefts knocked the fedoras from the gunmen’s heads, and they let Maranzano have it, stabbing him six times and pumping five bullets into his body as Mad Dog Coll made his way up to Maranzano’s office. The gangsters scrambled down the steps, bumping into Coll as they ditched their revolvers and bloody knives, before disappearing into the crowds of Midtown. Lucky Luciano was now the new king of the New York underworld.

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