Published December 03, 2008
In what has been described as one of the biggest heists in American history, the Empire State Building was reportedly stolen this week by a New York City newspaper in less than 90 minutes.
The New York Daily News drew up fake documents, created a bogus notary stamp and filed paperwork with the city and successfully took ownership of the $2 billion property on Monday.
The heist illustrates what it descibes as a gaping loophole in the city system that doesn't require clerks to actually verify information.
The office of the city register, upon receipt of the phony documents prepared by the newspaper, transferred ownership of the 102-story building from Empire State Land Associates to Nelots Properties, LLC. Nelots is "stolen" spelled backward.
To further enhance the absurdity of the heist, included on the bogus paperwork were original "King Kong" star Fay Wray as witness and Willie Sutton, the notorious bank robber, as the notary.
"Of course, stealing the Empire State Building wouldn't go unnoticed for long, but it shows how easy it is for con artists to swipe more modest buildings right out from under their owners," the paper concluded.
Nearly 24 hours after the fake deed was filed, the newspaper returned the building to its rightful owners.
The Daily News says it will not report all elements of how the scam works.
"Crooks go where the money is. That's why Willie Sutton robbed banks, and this is the new bank robbery," Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell told the Daily News.