The Story Of Lucky Luciano: 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Lucky Luciano
Today we’re talking about criminal mastermind and Italian mobster Lucky Luciano. Born in Sicily in 1897, Salvatore Luciana immigrated with his family to the United States in 1906, where he quickly saw that life wasn’t fair. In order to gain power and wealth, he saw that he would have to break the law. Lucky Luciano became the father of organized crime, managing five families and forming a commission, which set the rules of gang activity and attempted to stop gang wars. As the head of the Genovese crime family, he grossed 12 million dollars a year on average, not bad for a poor kid from Sicily.
15 things you didn’t know about Lucky Luciano:
1. Lucky Luciano got the name lucky by surviving a brutal attack that should have left him dead
In 1929 Lucky Luciano was abducted beaten and stabbed and left for dead on a beach in Staten Island. Fortunately for him a police officer found him and took him to the hospital. The men involved were never caught. But it was widely speculated they were sent by a rival crime family, run by Joe the boss Masseria, who was having a turf war with Lucky’s boss Salvatore Maranzano. Though the suspects were never found, Lucky helped to organize a grisly end for Masseria a few years later. Lucky arranged to have dinner with Masseria and then while the men played cards, he excused himself to go to the bathroom, which was the cue for his henchmen to rush in and shoot Masseria to death.
2. Lucky Luciano was the wealthiest and most powerful crime boss of his time.
In 1925 Lucky was worth four million dollars which would be worth around 60 million dollars today. Mind you this is after he paid off various police and politicians with a whopping 8 million dollars, so he could continue his racketeering business. That would equal out to a 114 million dollar bribe today.
3.He started his career in organized crime at just 9 years old.
Lucky Luciano immigrated to the Lower East Side of New York from Sicily in 1906, when he was just 9 years old. Speaking no English, he struggled in school finally dropping out in 1914. He did however start a protection racket as a child, making other schoolchildren pay him, so they wouldn’t get beaten up. What would happen if they didn’t pay him you ask well then he would beat them up.
4. Lucky Luciano lived in the extravagant Waldorf Astoria towers.
When Lucky Luciano finally started cashing in on his life of crime he decided he wanted a more upscale place to live in New York City so he rented out some of the rooms of the famous Waldorf Astoria towers for $800 a month. The equivalent to almost $12,000 a month today with a parking garage and private elevator to bring him to his suite he easily evaded the law. He also bribed the front desk clerk with $200 a month to tip him off if any policeman came looking for him.
5. He raked in over one hundred and twenty million dollars a year.
Lucky Luciano raked in millions from prostitution, heroin, protection money and selling liquor during Prohibition. Part of his downfall was trying to explain to a jury, how he was able to live so extravagantly while claiming to only make $22,000 a year.
6. He was tapped by the United States to use his connections in Italy to help win World War 2.
During world war two in 1942 the United States Naval Intelligence needed help getting opposing forces off of Sicily. They knew the Mafia’s power was what ran the small island so they asked lucky to use his connections to find out who was controlling the waterfront in Sicily. The whole plan was a success for the US and a result in 1946, lucky was released providing he did not resist deportation to Italy.
7. After that, to avoid deportation to Italy lucky fled to Cuba and lived in the most luxurious hotels.
Lucky fled to Cuba where he and his friend and Mafioso companion Meyer Lansky had built a luxurious playground for the rich to escape to. He stayed at the National, a 467 room luxury hotel that would put Las Vegas hotels to shame. Casinos, pools, state-of-the-art lighting furniture and design were like nothing anyone had ever seen, while there he took under his wing a young Frank Sinatra the two became very close. Having come from the same village in Sicily with lucky financing Sinatra’s career and Sinatra acting as a lure for the rich and famous to play in Cuba, Havana became a playground for the wealthy. It was no secret that Cuba was the gateway for mobsters like lucky to bring heroin to the US. But in 1946 Cuba served as the hub to avoid being deported back to Sicily. While in Cuba he arranged the Havana conference, bringing the Mafia’s control of the global drug trade to reality.
8. Meyer Lansky was the financial mastermind behind luckiest fortune.
Meyer Lansky best known for being the head of the Jewish mob, was a close ally of Lucky Luciano. He had kept a close eye on the Fed government’s dealings with mobsters and perfected a way to launder money so gangsters would no longer be caught with money that had been gotten in an illegal way. It was Lansky who encouraged the development of hotels, casinos and other businesses so mob bosses could clean their money. The two men built a successful money-laundering Empire in Cuba through their hotels and casinos. While at the same time pumping drugs from Cuba back into the United States.
9. A $1 silver certificate signed by Lucky Luciano was auctioned off for 8750 dollars.
The famed Christie’s auction house put a $1 certificate signed by Lucky Luciano in 1955 up for auction expecting to get around $1,000 for it. But when the auction hammer finally fell the price was over 8000 dollars. More recently someone went to the famed pawn stars pawn shop in Las Vegas claiming they had Lucky’s pinkie ring. Unfortunately, the authenticity of it could not be confirmed. If it had been deemed as real it possibly could have fetched up to a million dollars at auction.
10. He ran a prostitution syndicate worth over 12 million dollars.
Lucky Luciano became public enemy number one for the state of New York. He was wanted for running a prostitution ring that was estimated to have brought in 12 million dollars. The manhunt followed him all the way across the country. The special prosecutor made it his mission to track down lucky and bring him back to New York to face racketeering charges.
11. Lucky Luciano almost lost it all after a drug deal gone badly.
In the early 20s Lucky was involved with a drug deal gone bad which damaged his reputation in the criminal world. To fix the situation Luciano wound up buying 200 expensive tickets to the famed Jack Dempsey Lewis Firpo boxing match in the Bronx. And sent half to top gangsters and half to top politicians in New York City. He then went out and bought the most expensive tailored suit he could attended the match. It worked like a charm and he was back in business.
12. Lucky Luciano had meals specially prepared for him in prison.
When lucky was in Clinton Correctional Facility, the authorities reserved a special kitchen where another inmate prepared meals just for lucky. While he was there he convinced authorities to build a church, the only freestanding one at a prison in the United States.
13. When another crime boss tried to take over, Lucky Luciano had him arrested.
In 1957 while Luciano was still in Sicily, crime boss Genovese got all the bosses together in New York to discuss his takeover of the Luciano crime family. Unfortunately, things went terribly wrong and law enforcement wound up raiding the meeting and arresting over 60 high-ranking officers of the Cosa Nostra. Immediately after Luciano called a meeting with two of the big crime family heads: Costello and Gambino, and decided to put Genovese out of business. Luciano paid $100,000 to implicate Genovese in a drug deal. His scheme worked and Genovese was sent to prison for 15 years. While, Luciano held onto the control of all the crime families in the United States.
14. Lucky Luciano was impeccably dressed in tailored suits and handmade shoes until the day he died.
Lucky Luciano was known to have all of his suits tailored. Sometimes ordering them a dozen at a time. He also owned more silk underwear than any of his cohorts had ever seen. He had a reputation of putting mobsters in suits and white shirts. And even giving away suits and hats to anyone who looked like they needed a boost. Though, his taste was expensive it was understated and it said that he dressed more like a banker or businessman instead of a mafia king.
15. In 1998 Time magazine named Lucky Luciano one of the most influential builders and Titans of the 20th century.
Lucky Luciano was named one of the most influential men of the 20th century. of lucky they said quote “ He downsized he restructured and he used Standard & Poor’s as much as Smith & Wesson, to change forever the face of organized crime… this is true Luciano changed the way mobsters ran the world.. Creating a global drug economy and working closely with government officials and law enforcement to get it done…”
Bonus fact of Lucky Luciano:
Lucky Luciano never had children. Italians have always been known for having big families so it’s really surprising that Luciano never had children. This is odd for the time period and the fact he came from a culture that embraced having a big family. It also meant he would have no one to leave his organized crime family business to. When asked of why he never had children, Luciano replied “I didn’t want no son of mine to go through life as the son of Luciano the gangster… that’s one thing I still hate Dewey for making me a gangster in the eyes of the world… Dewey was the man who successfully sent him to jail”