An exhibition in New York shows the dark side of American finance

Through newspapers and historical documents, the museum offers visitors a first-hand experience of the ins and outs of some of the history scandals.

Deluxe scammers and the biggest white-glove criminals in US history today star in the Scandal! At the Museum of American Finance in New York, which reviews the darker face of the financial world of this country.

Through newspapers and historical documents, the museum offers visitors first-hand insight into the ins and outs of some of the most shocking financial scandals in American society, from the first crack of the New York Stock Exchange to the Bankruptcy of Enron. All the characters in the exhibition have played tragic chapters of the US economy, mixing elements of greed and corruption typical of film productions that have undermined investor confidence.

Among the “illustrious” protagonists of the show are Bernard Madoff, who is serving 150 years in prison for committing one of the biggest scams in history, or William Duer (1743-1799), former Treasury Secretary and one of Who were responsible for the first Wall Street crisis in 1792. Duer, the forerunner of the financial picaresque in the United States, created a system to speculate with government funds and reached such a magnitude that, when the scam was uncovered, he was imprisoned and New Yorkers arrived To surround the prison to the cry of “we will take to Duer, he took our money”.

Leena Akhtar, director of exhibitions and archives at the museum, said today that the latest financial scandals have been a challenge for the institution since most of the material available is virtual, such as emails or electronic transactions. Akhtar explained that to portray the Lehman Brothers scandal the museum counted on the donation by its creator of the statuettes with which the investment bank rewarded the employees who participated in great economic agreements, before declaring itself bankrupt on the 15th Of September 2008 and thus precipitate a crisis that made the financial system tremble all over the world.

Madoff’s personal objects

In addition to these figurines, the exhibition has other curious objects among which stand out different personal objects of financier Madoff, like a baseball bat that has inscribed the name of the investment firm with which he swindled thousands of people, or some balls Golf and other sports equipment.
Nor could the fraudster who gave name to the famous “Ponzi scheme” the system he used to defraud both Madoff and thousands more financiers in the history of this country. Charles Ponzi, an Italian immigrant from Ravenna who settled in Boston in 1911, took his greatest blow in 1919 after discovering that he could get a fortune by trading in the coupons his compatriots sent by letter from the United States to relatives in Italy.

Thus, Ponzi initiated a pyramid scheme of scam similar to the one that later used Madoff, that was to distribute coupons between the poor immigrant families promising a profits of the 50 percent that materialized thanks to the money that new investors gave to him. Even the most scandalous case was “Scandal Oil” (1963) in which Allied Crude Vegetable Oil obtained numerous loans, making banks believe that their ships carried oil, when in fact they only carried water with a minimum proportion of fat.

The small amount of oil that carried the tanks and floated in the water managed to deceive the inspectors who inspected the boats and caused losses of more than 150 million dollars to companies like American Express or Bank of America, who had granted loans. With its extensive review of these and other scandals, which can be visited for a whole year, the New York museum allows to understand that recent scandals that have grabbed the front pages of newspapers around the world are not a novelty in the financial world.