New Jersey has been home to mob legends, both real and made up, from Tony Soprano as the born and bred Jersey street boss to Jimmy Hoffa who some people say is buried in cement at New York Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. In real life, one of the most notorious mobsters was Albert Anastasia Jr who terrorized rivals for over three decades. His elegant New Jersey mansion goes to auction on December 8th.
Anastasia was born in 1902 in Italy and moved to the United States at age 17 where he found work on the Brooklyn docks. Within two years, he was convicted of murdering a fellow longshoreman and sent to Sing Sing Prison, but won a new trial on a technicality and freedom when a few witnesses conveniently disappeared. In 1928, Anastasia was charged with another murder but more witnesses disappeared and Anastasia went free again.
Always looking for an opportunity for advancement, Anastasia teamed with Lucky Luciano and Bugsy Siegel to assassinate a rival crime boss at a Brooklyn restaurant in 1931. As a reward, Anastasia was promoted to under boss of New Jersey’s most prominent crime family where he ran Murder Incorporated out of the back room of a Brooklyn candy store. Law enforcement officials believe Murder Incorporated was involved in as many as 500 murders.
By the late 1940s, Anastasia was a leading crime kingpin and extremely wealthy. In 1947, he purchased one of New Jersey’s premier estates – a Fort Lee mansion on 1.3 acres on the cliffs of the Hudson River with Manhattan skyline views. The Italianate-style home includes five bedrooms, pool and pool house, red-tile roof, marble fireplaces, theater, bar and a long gated driveway. According to the auction listing, “It was no wonder that the estate’s many spacious rooms, complete privacy, and proximity to New York City directly across the Hudson made it the ideal setting for many gangland gatherings.”
In the 1950s the feds were cracking down on organized crime and Anastasia was losing some of his mob partners. He told friends that he expected to be killed and was worried about his wife and son. Anastasia added bodyguards, attack dogs and surrounded his mansion with a 10-foot high metal fence and barbed wire. He was convicted of tax evasion in 1955, the case largely based on the government’s question of how someone with no income could afford such a ritzy home. Anastasia died as he lived when he was murdered in 1957 while sitting in a barber chair at New York’s Park Sheraton Hotel. The two masked gunmen, each wearing one black glove and sunglasses, were never captured. The barber chair is now on display at the Mob Museum in Las Vegas.
Anastasia’s life and death have been portrayed in several films and television shows including “Analyze This,” “Mash” and “The West Wing.” He was the inspiration for one of the main characters in 1954’s Academy Award winning “On the Waterfront” and a 2010 rap song “The Albert Anastasia EP” by Rick Ross.
After Anastasia’s death, celebrity home owners included real estate developer and New York Yankees owner Del Webb and comedian Buddy Hackett. The estate is being auctioned by New York City’s Guernsey’s Auctions and New Jersey real estate agency Prominent Properties with a reserve of $5.5 million.