|Excerpt from Rothstein:
Charming, dapper, 6'6" Jules W. "Nicky" Arnstein (alias
Nick Arnold; alias Nicholas Arnold; alias Wallace Ames;
alias John Adams; alias J. Willard Adair) was the husband of
musical comedy star, the 5'7" Fanny Brice. When Fanny
sang her heart-wrenching "My Man" in the 1921 edition of
Flo Ziegfeld's Follies, she emoted about her troubles with
Nicky —and all America knew it.
Nicky didn't rob with a gun. He used his wits, and made
victims befriend him while fleecing them at cards or
confidence games. Like Arnold Rothstein, Arnstein came
from good stock. Like Carolyn Rothstein, he came from
mixed stock. Nicky's father, Berlin-born Jew Moses
Arndstein, fought with distinction in the Franco-Prussian
War. His mother, Thekla Van Shaw, was Dutch, and they
raised Nicky as an Episcopalian. "No boy could have been
brought up with more love and care than was I," he recalled.
"and I always have loved the beautiful things of life--beautiful
pictures, good books, and birds and flowers. My fondness
for gambling, however, led me to live a life rather apart from
my family. It is one of the penalties I have paid for my
fondness for the cards, the dice, and the horses."
"Nicky" was short for nickel plate, a sobriquet bestowed in
the 1890s, when Arnstein raced a gleaming nickel-plated
bicycle, in the then-popular bike racing craze. However, he
spent more time throwing races than winning them. Before
long he fell in with the legendary Gondorf brothers, Fred and
Charley, master con-men who specialized in fleecing rich
suckers in elegant settings. Arnstein graduated to gambling
on transatlantic liners and in European casinos, eventually
being arrested in all the best places: London, Brussels,
By 1912, he met Arnold Rothstein. "I knew him," Arnstein
gushed in admiration. "not only as the king of the gamblers,
but as the whitest [most honorable] of them all! . . .
"He was interested in everything involving chance, to the
point of a passion. Racing thrilled him . . . He never gave one
a wrong tip in his life."
After A.R.'s death, when others uniformly derided him as a
cheat and welsher, Arnstein held firm:
What an exceptional man! Can you picture or imagine
a gambler with higher instincts? [He was] a real man
and a human gentleman to the fingertips. I termed him
a gambler. I guess he would not have denied it, but he
was a shrewd businessman as well.
I know that much will be said about him now that will
not be pleasant with his memory. But to me he was an
honest man, with an outstanding integrity. He had
I have seen him lose a cool half million dollars in one
night, a fortune that would dwarf any of them at
Monte Carlo. Rothstein lost this money one night
without batting an eyelash, without flinching or
showing any signs of being disturbed. . . .
I know that he earned millions as a builder, in the
insurance business and with a stable . . . of the finest
race horses in the country. He was one of the most
tireless workers I have ever known, for sixteen hours
at work when I knew him was his average day. And
in those sixteen hours he helped many people. I do
not believe he ever said "No" to a friend.
|Arnold Rothstein. History remembers Arnold Rothstein as
the man who fixed the 1919 World Series, the underworld
genius, who as F. Scott Fitzgerald observed, played "with
the faith of fifty million people" with the single-mindedness of
a burglar blowing a safe." A.R. was so much more--and less.
Loan Shark. Pool Shark. Gambler. Bookmaker. Operator
of Illegal Gambling Houses. Thief. Fence of Stolen Property.
Perjurer and Suborner of Perjury. Political Fixer. Wall Street
Swindler. Real Estate Speculator. Labor Racketeer.
Rum-runner. Mastermind of the Modern Drug Trade.
Nicky Arnstein. Debonair international con man.
Multimillion-dollar bond thief. Wandering husband of Fanny
Brice. Arnold Rothstein's admirer, partner, and fall guy.
Fanny Brice. Broadway's "Funny Lady" found husband
Nicky Arnstein's illegal schemes with A.R. no laughing
matter, nor the collateral he demanded to provide bail for her