Meyer Shapiro was born in Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville in 1908. Along with his brothers Irving and Willie, Meyer Shapiro led a gang of Jewish mobsters that controlled the local loan sharking, gambling, and extortion operations. The neighborhood of Brownsville was contentious territory among many of the local mobsters. The Shapiro gang vied for power with rival gangs led by the Amberg brothers (Hyman, Louis, and Joseph) and Abraham “Kid Twist” Reles.

Early in their careers, both Abe Reles and Martin “Bugsy” Goldstein, a fellow Murder, Inc., hit man, worked under the Shapiro brothers, but Reles and Goldstein had ambitions to move in on the Shapiro brothers’ criminal territory. When the Shapiro brothers found out about this, they set a trap for Reles and Goldstein. Unfortunately for the Shapiro brothers, the ambush failed and Reles escaped alive. One by one, Murder, Inc., hit men eliminated the Shapiro brothers. Meyer’s body was found on September 17, 1931, in the basement of a tenement building on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. He died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Artwork Information:
Meyer Shapiro, 2008
Mixed Media Silkscreen on Paper
19″ x 29″