Wednesday, April 18, 2012

If You Ever Need to Escape with Your Wealth from a Totalitarian State...

Keep this story in mind, which was told to me yesterday.

During the height of the Soviet Empire a physicist was planning to escape the USSR. He was cleared to travel, but, of course, he was not allowed to take with him any wealth he had.

The man cleared the Soviet checkpoint with one piece of luggage and a couple of suits thrown in. And, oh yeah, he managed to take all his wealth with him.

How did he do it?

Before he left, he sold off all his assets and bought platinum with the funds. He stretched the platinum into wire and made coat hangers out of the wire. He threw his suits over the "hangers" and cleared the checkpoint without incident.


  1. But really that would only work in the soviet union where suits were 'boxy' and the guards wouldn't pay any attention to anything converted into coathangers. in the US hangers are uniformly plastic and metal ones would be spotted.

    1. You should take your suits to the cleaners more often.

  2. In a perverse way, an obvious totalitarian state, such as the USSR, fosters a certain creative survival mechanism, closely related to entrepreneurship. On the road from a relatively free society to a nanny state, but not yet an obvious totalitarian state, the US has instilled no such skills at any level.

  3. I think this is most likely a story about Herman Francis Mark, who was part Jewish and escaped the Germans in Austria in 1938.

  4. And don't forget the movie 'Charade' with Audrey Hepburn for another idea on how to smuggle out with your wealth. Don't remember? Good reason to watch it. Enjoy.

  5. What's really amazing is how many people view the "smuggler" as the criminal, and not the state's thugs trying to rob travelers.

  6. The Overseas Chinese, those who were forced to flee China under regimes back as far as 2,000 years ago, have their caches of precious metals made into all kinds of day to day necessities, from buttons and buckles, files, pens, clippers, razors et al and transport their wealth easily as they go from country to country.

    The great jewelers in history were very adept at camaflaging wealth as necessities and objet d'artes not known too well to the average government thug.

    This kind of capital transfer has been the stuff of history and I doubt that anyone can claim a new concept since it has all been done before!

  7. This is part of the story from CBS Radio Mystery Theater #208, The Precious Killer.