Arnold Rothstein, nicknamed “The Brain,” was an American racketeer, businessman and gambler who became a kingpin of the Jewish mob in New York City. Rothstein was widely reputed to have organized corruption in professional athletics, including conspiring to fix the 1919 World Series. Take a look below for 30 more interesting and strange facts about Arnold Rothstein.
1. According to crime writer Leo Katcher, Rothstein, “transformed organized crime from a thuggish activity by hoodlums into a big business, run like a corporation, with himself at the top.
2. According to Rich Cohen, Rothstein was the person who first realized that Prohibition was a business opportunity, a means to enormous wealth, who, “understood the truths of early century capitalism (giving people what they want) and came to dominate them.”
3. His notoriety inspired several fictional characters based on his life, portrayed in contemporary and later short stories, novels, musicals and films.
4. Rothstein refused to pay a large debt resulting from a fixed poker game and was murdered in 1928.
5. His illegal empire was broken up and distributed among a number of other underworld organizations and led in part to the downfall of Tammany Hall and the rise of reformer Fiorello La Guardia.
6. Ten years after his death, his brother declared Rothstein’s estate was bankrupt.
7. Rothstein was born on January 17, 1881, in Manhattan, New York, into a well established Jewish business family.
8. He was born to Abraham Rothstein and Esther and grew up with an older brother.
9. His father was one of the most well respected men in his circles and was known typically as “Abe the Just.” He was a man with great character and self respect.
10. Rothstein was good with numbers at a very young age and hence, he did well in mathematics while in school.
11. He didn’t have any interest whatsoever in any other subject in school, which led to him dropping out of high school at the age of 16.
12. His father always favored his older brother, who later went on to become a rabbi.
13. Aspiring to create something of his own, Rothstein started working as a travelling salesman for many companies.
14. He initially liked it, but soon he was bored of it as it paid less than he expected and didn’t allow him to make full use of his tactical skills.
15. During his late teenage years, he started drifting towards crime. He was the opportunity in organized crime as they were mostly just fighting each other and losing out on many lucrative business opportunities.
16. What motivated him the most was the hatred he harbored for his family. He thought his parents didn’t love him enough and that was why when he was asked by his father to stop gambling, he didn’t.
17. By the time Rothstein was in his later teenage years, he already making money off gambling.
18. By the age of 20, he started his very own casino from the money that he had made through winning cards and gambling over the years.
19. He has become a known figure in the New York gambling scene owing to his winning streaks, which were somehow unnatural and more than just luck.
20. He invested in a horse racing track at Havre de Grace, Maryland, where he was reputed to have fixed many of the races that he won.
21. Rothstein had a wide network of informants; very deep pockets from some among of his father’s banking community associates; and the willingness to pay a premium for good information, regardless of the source.
22. His successes made him a millionaire by the age of 30.
23. There is a lot of evidence both for and against Rothstein being involved in the 1919 World Series fix. In 1919, Rothstein’s agents allegedly paid members of the Chicago White Sox to “throw”, or deliberately lose, the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. He bet against them and made a significant profit in what was called the “Black Box Scandal.”
24. Under the pseudonym “Redstone Stable,” Rothstein owned a racehorse named Sporting Blood, which won the 1921 Travers Stakes under suspicious circumstances.
25. Rothstein allegedly conspired with a leading trainer, Sam Hildreth, to drive up the odds on Sporting Blood. Hildreth entered an outstanding three year old, Grey Lag, on the morning of the race, causing the odds on Sporting Blood, to rise to 3-1.
26. Rothstein bet $150,000 through bookmakers, allegedly having been informed that the second favorite, Prudery, was off her feed. Just before post time and without explanation, Hildreth scratched Grey Lag from the starting list. Rothstein collected over $500,000 in bets plus the purse, but a conspiracy was never proven.
27. On November 4, 1928, Rothstein was shot and mortally wounded during a business meeting at Manhattan’s Park Central Hotel at Seventh Avenue near 55th Street.
28. He died two days later at the Stuyvesant Polyclinic Hospital in Manhattan.
29. The shooting was reportedly linked to debts owed from a three-day long, high-stakes poker game in October. Rothstein hit a cold streak and ended up owing $320,000. He claimed the game was fixed and refused to settle up.
30. The hit was intended to punish Rothstein for failing to pay his debt. The gambler George “Hump” McManus was arrested for the murder, but later acquitted for lack of evidence.