Wealthy eccentrics

Sometimes the rich are a little different.

Jim Fisk (1834-72)
Jim Fisk (1834-72)
"Big Jim" or "Jubilee Jim" Fisk was a robber baron par excellence. In his hectic youth, he worked as a circus traveler, waiter and peddler, then struck it rich during the Civil War by selling moldy blankets to the Union army and smuggling cotton up from the South. Setting up shop on Wall Street after the war, he and fellow rascal Jay Gould battled, and beat, Cornelius Vanderbilt for control of the Erie Railroad. Now rich, Fisk grew bold: An attempt to corner the gold market in 1869 caused a financial panic and damaged the presidency of U.S. Grant, whose brother-in-law was implicated. Fisk enjoyed his wealth, favoring velvet vests and lots of bling. He died when a business rival shot and killed him in a fight over a showgirl.

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