Housed in an Historic Speakeasy this Tiny Museum is a Great Stop for any History Buff
& why it made the Carpe City list
Rumor had it that Frank Hoffman had two safes filled with his bootlegging earnings — a total of $12 million. In 1933 Hoffman mysteriously disappeared and his second-in-command, Walter Scheib, took over the bar. Shortly after, Prohibition was repealed and Scheib’s Place became one of the first legal bars in the city. Scheib did not open the safes out of loyalty (but mostly fear) of Hoffman if he were to return. Inevitably, in 1964, Scheib sold the bar to actor Howard Otway, who discovered the safes. Scheib laid claim to the belongings in the safe but made Otway open them. One was empty, but the other held $2 million worth of gold certificates as well as the pungent remains of a 40-year-old clam linguini dinner. Another surprise Hoffman left was the myriad of explosives he lined the basement with in preparation for an escape from a police raid.
Henry Hill, that guy we mentioned who donated some artifacts to the museum, was played by Ray Liotta in the movie Goodfellas. You may be wondering, “How did he contact the museum? Wasn’t he in the Witness Protection Program?” Well, yes, kind of, maybe. Hill was quite an interesting man. Henry Hill hated his boring, conventional life in the Witness Protection Program, so naturally, he hosted a neighborhood BBQ where he got drunk and high on numerous drugs and announced his real identity. This proclamation happened a couple more times, and eventually, Hill was expelled from the Witnessed Protection Program. (Yes, Hill was awarded the “Most Talkative” superlative in his high school yearbook.) Hill returned to his beloved New York City and, in 2010, hosted a screening of Goodfellason its 20th anniversary at the Museum of the American Gangster. He also donated a bloody icepick, his suit from the Lufthansa Heist, and a painting of the New York City skyline. While it is speculated whether the stories behind the icepick and suit are actually true, it’s never good to let the facts get in the way of a good story!
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