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Irving Wexler was born in 1889 to Polish-immigrant parents living on New York City’s Lower East Side. As a child, Wexler was an extremely skilled pickpocket. He earned the nickname “Waxey” for his ability to remove his marks’ wallets as easily as if they were waxed. Waxey worked his way up the criminal ladder, serving stints in jail for pick pocketing. Eventually he earned a job breaking strikes for “Dopey” Benny Fein due to his muscular, stocky build. Arnold Rothstein hired Waxey away from Fein and used him as a rum-runner during Prohibition. Waxey rose through the ranks of Rothstein’s organization, eventually running all of Rothstein’s East Coast operations. He reputedly earned $2 million a year and lived lavishly to demonstrate it.

In 1928, Rothstein died and Waxey’s fortunes began to wane. He attempted to ally with Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano, the founders of the National Crime Syndicate, but his inability to cooperate led to a gang war. To get rid of Gordon, Luciano and Lansky provided New York District Attorney Thomas Dewey with evidence that led to his conviction on tax evasion charges in 1933. When Waxey was released from Leavenworth in 1940, he declared, “Waxey Gordon is dead. From now on it’s Irving Wexler, salesman.” However, Irving Wexler did not mend his ways. He was arrested several more times for larceny and drug trafficking, ultimately dying of a massive heart attack in a prison hospital on June 24, 1952.

Artwork Information: Waxey Gordon, 2009 Mixed Media Silkscreen on Paper 19" x 29"
Filed Under: Celebrity Arrests


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