Arnold Rothstein: The Modern Jewish Gangster

Reference: JSource Original

With “Big Jack” Zelig and Harry “Gyp the Blood” Horowitz, out of the picture, a new Jewish gangland emerged under the Prohibition years of 1920 – 1933. The most prominent participant in this new craze was none other than Arnold “The Brain” “The Big Bankroll” Rothstein (January 17, 1882 – November 5, 1928), who remains among the most influential Jews in organized crime and is often called the first modern Jewish gangster, transforming crime into a lucrative business and dressing the part. He is most notable for his hand in fixing the 1919 World Series where he bribed members of the Chicago White Socks baseball team to intentionally lose against the Cincinnati Reds. Rothstein was born and raised in NYC’s upper Manhattan, coming from a wealthy Jewish immigrant family. His father, a big-time businessman and racketeer groomed Rothstein to take over the business, but his son’s criminal ambition far surpassed that of his own.

After dropping out of school at sixteen, Rothstein moved to the corrupt Tenderloin district where he began gambling and fixing horse races by exploiting his father’s connections. When prohibition became law, Rothstein began bootlegging alcohol, making arrangements for the forbidden swigs to be shipped from overseas and Canada. He soon became the main provider, distributing alcohol to other bootleggers throughout gangland, while engrossing an enormous income. He was well respected, often dispensing advice to the younger generation of criminals. After an unexpected loss following a three day poker game, Rothstein found himself out $320,000 and proclaimed that the game had been fixed. He was allegedly shot on November 4, 1928 during a business meeting at the Park Central Hotel and died of his wounds the next day. The mystery surrounding his murder has never been solved. Gambler, George “Hump” McManus was initially arrested on the grounds that Rothstein refused to pay the money he owed, however McManus was acquitted due to lack of evidence. Another theory surrounds the Bootleg Wars where German Jewish gangster “Dutch” Schultz (born Arthur Flegenheimer; August 6, 1901 – October 24, 1935) competed against Rothstein and his associate’s Irving “Waxey Gordon” Wexler (January 19, 1888 – June 24, 1952) and Jack “Legs” Diamond over control of the liquor industry, with Schultz’s men presumably killing Diamond. Rothstein upheld the gangster code even on his deathbed, refusing to identify his killer.

 For Further Reading

  1. The Real Jewish Gangsters of NYC
  2. General Theodore Bingham vs. The Jews
  3. The Eastman Gang
  4. Big Jack Zelig: The “Big Yid” of the Lower East Side
  5. The Becker-Rosenthal Trial
  6. Detective Abraham Shoenfeld Infiltrates Jewish Criminal Underworld
  7. Arnold Rothstein: The Modern Jewish Gangster
  8. The National Crime Syndicate
  9. The Murder of “Bugsy” Siegel
  10. The Kefauver Committee and Aftermath
  11. Jewish Gangsters Today

Table of Contents

Arnold “The Brain” “The Big Bankroll” Rothstein


1919 World Series Fix

“Dutch” Schultz

 “Waxey” Gordon