Friday, August 14, 2015

Tricky Vic: The Impossible True Story of The Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower


Tricky Vic: The Impossible True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower
by Greg Pizzoli
Viking, 2015.  39 pgs. Biography

     Robert Miller was born in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) in 1890. He was smart, did well in school, and looked to have a bright future as he pursued a degree at the University of Paris. Instead, "he left home to become 'an artist.' A con artist." At first he made his living as a professional gambler. When he got into trouble at the poker table, he took to the seas, and he took a new name: Count Victor Lustig, so he could mix with rich people and relieve them of their valuables. In the United States he even conned Al Capone who gave him his blessing to move around Chicago selling a fake money-making machine. When the States got too hot, Count Victor went back to Paris where rumors of the demolition of the Eiffel Tower allowed him to "sell" the structure to a Monsieur Poisson (the fish). Too embarrassed to call the police, Poisson lost his savings to Tricky Vic who went back to the United States where he was arrested on a counterfeiting charge but escaped jail by pretending to be a window washer, though he finally was caught and sent to Alcatraz. Tricky Vic, though certainly not a role model, was a master of his craft and his story, along with Pizzoli's charming illustrations (Count Victor's face is always a fingerprint), should interest and delight both young and old.

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