On this day in 1957 Albert Anastasia, the Lord High Executioner was shot while sitting back in a Barber’s chair at the Park Sheraton Hotel on 870 7th Avenue (which is now renamed to the Park Central Hotel on 56th and 7th Avenue).
Anastasia was one of the most feared members of the mob in his day, running Murder Inc which was the Mafia’s enforcement arm as well as being the boss of what we now know as the Gambino Crime Family.
The Build up to The Assassination of The Mad Hatter
The publicity of the Schuster murder and Anastasia’s general greed would have played a big part in his assassination but the role Vito Genovese had would be the pivotal point in Anastasia’s downfall.
Genovese wanted to be a crime boss, the only thing to stand in his way was Frank Costello (the current boss). To take out Costello he needed to take out Anastasia and seek approval from Meyer Lansky (who at this point was acting boss while Luciano was in jail, running the US business for him).
Genovese also offered Carlo Gambino the chance to run the Anastasia family if he supported him in taking out Costello and Anastasia.
After a botched attempt at Costello, which saw him survive in May 1957, he stepped down as boss. Next on the list a few months later was Anastasia.
What Happened to Anastasia?
Allegedly two men rushed the shop in scarves and rang out a tirade of bullets at Anastasia as he sat there. Anastasia actually got up out of the chair and charged at the men, unfortunately what he saw in the moment of panic and confusion was the reflection of the men in the Barber’s mirror.
No one was charged with the murder, and a New York journalist was reported to say:
“The vivid image of a helpless victim swathed in white towels was stamped in the public memory.”
11 witnesses were at the scene and a total of 10 shots were fired at Anastasia. A high profile investigation was to take place, and the start of the Mafia unveiling itself was about to begin.