Anastasia's Home with "Strange Tiled Room" for Sale

This first ran in late December of 2015...

In North Jersey's Fort Lee sits a mansion for sale that was once owned by one of the most powerful and feared Cosa Nostra bosses in the American Mafia's history: Albert Anastasia.
The former Anastasia estate was to set for a Dec. 8 auction, which was reportedly postponed due to an ongoing renovation project.
Anastasia's home in Fort Lee includes a "strange tiled room."

Described as a sprawling Mission-style estate, it's located at 75 Bluff Road and, according to a recent published report, it hasn't changed much since Anastasia had it built in 1947.

The house was bigger than others in the area back then. In fact, the 25-room luxurious spread ruined the scenic view of Manhattan for at least one family, though they aren't known to have complained.

North Jersey has been described as a gangsters paradise. The list of previous North Jersey residents includes the enigmatic Joe Adonis, Willie Moretti and Longie Zwillman, though the last owner was the "most famous and feared of all, the head of Murder Incorporated, Albert Anastasia," as the New York Times noted. New Jersey itself was and is a key area of activity for many crime families; in fact, as noted, at least seven were known to have operated there.

The former Albert Anastasia estate was to set for a Dec. 8 auction, which was reportedly postponed due to an ongoing renovation project. The wealthy Mafia aficionado might be able to pick it up for a song considering the $5 million minimum. (The seven-bedroom, 13,500-square-foot estate next door, built in 2007, sold this past June for $18.9 million). Trucking and ferry mogul Arthur Imperatore Sr., is the current owner looking to sell the mansion.

Anastasia's view of Manhattan.

After his infamous 1957 barbershop execution, Anastasia's family departed the estate.

Del Webb, the powerful Southwestern developer and former Yankees owner, helped buy the 25-room property for friend Buddy Hackett.

Imperatore, 90, decided to sell after his wife's death this year. "Part of the reason for the home’s relatively modest price could be that the Anastasia estate is remarkably intact, perhaps too much so," the Times reported.

Slot machine located in the basement, along with other things.....

The Hacketts and the Imperatores left the house as it was, making few changes. It hasn't even gotten a paint job, so the original paint is peeling. The plaster also is crumbling I places. 

Some of the original parts of the house are in excellent condition, such as a tiled roof and marble fireplace. Also preserved are the estate's grounds.

The Times article also notes that some "plush carpeting and single-pane windows will probably go, but the views stretching from the George Washington Bridge to the World Trade Center cannot be replaced." Anastasia's power over others may be exemplified in the home's "vintage kitchens and bathrooms have almost as much tile as Pompeii."

Anastasia was dubbed "the Lord High Executioner"
by the press but was better known as Don Umberto.

Anastasia's Connections
“Given his connections, I could see Anastasia going down to the tile union, and before you know it, a dozen of their best guys were up here,” Arlan Ettinger, the president of Guernsey’s and Imperatore friend, said during the Times's tour last week.

The report also noted that, despite its breathtaking facade, the home includes "some details [that] betray its violent foundations."

The stucco exterior walls are at least a foot thick, and every room has two or more doorways, for quick getaways. Sandy Hackett, the comedian’s son, recalled a false wall in his sister’s closet that led to a guest bedroom (the passage itself appears to have vanished today), and there were rumors of a tunnel into the cliffside. The basement could rival most homes in size and opulence, with a dozen rooms, including one that the elder Mr. Hackett converted into a screening room, complete with a bar and fake candy stand...
And then there was the strange tiled room with a drain in the floor and nothing else. The younger Mr. Hackett said his father turned it into a dark room for developing film, but when he asked about it as a child, he was told it was originally used to carve up deer after hunting trips. 
“Whenever you went in there, it was always five degrees colder, just chilly and eerie,” Mr. Hackett said in a phone interview from Los Angeles. “I don’t know about deer, but they were definitely slaughtering something in there.” The Imperatores replaced it with a sauna and Jacuzzi room.

Joe Adonis

Who Was Joe Adonis?
Adonis was probably Anastasia's closest neighbor. As I haven't written much about him and Zwillman on this blog, I thought I'd include some basic background information.

Adonis eventually settled in Fort Lee as well, on Dearborn Road, about a quarter-mile from Anastasia's house.

Born in Italy's Montemarano, which is near Naples and within the province of Avellino, he arrived in the U.S. with his family as a child. A longtime Brooklyn mobster, he was affiliated with such Mafia luminaries as Frankie Yale and Anthony Carfano -- aka "Little Augie" Pisano. In fact, following Yale's murder, Adonis --along with Pisano, Vito Genovese and Mike Miranda -- were among the most prominent Neapolitans working within Giuseppe Masseria's organization in 1920s New York.

Adonis was known to have directed activity on the Brooklyn docks alongside Anastasia. He also ran a Brooklyn eatery, Joe's Italian Kitchen on Carroll Street and Fourth Avenue.

He was among a select group of non-Sicilian gangsters targeted for elimination by Maranzano following the Castellammarese War in 1931, when New York's "official" Five Families were established. Maranzano was assassinated before he could strike first.

Known to be a major player in the reorganized underworld, amazingly few basic details are even known about Adonis.Also unknown is precisely which crime family he belonged to and what rank he'd held -- though sources narrow his affiliation down to either the Brooklyn-based Mangano crime family or Luciano's Manhattan-based borgata. Whatever crime family he was formally tied to, Adonis's primary allegiance remained with longtime personal friends Luciano and Frank Costello.

Adonis went on to run a range of rackets that included booze, gambling, drugs and labor racketeering. He and Costello, along with Meyer Lansky and Benjamin Siegel, owned the Colonial Inn casino in Miami Beach. Adonis also shared a gambling empire in New Jersey with Mafioso Willie Moretti.

Colonial Inn advertisement

Threatened by legal troubles in 1953 that grew progressively worse, he voluntarily deported himself to Italy. (See famous headline about this here.) Otherwise, he'd have faced a perjury charge from his discourse at the Kefauver Committee hearings. (How bad would a perjury pinch have been?) The Italian government wasn't crazy about getting Adonis, either. So he found himself in an exile-within-an-exile position. On June 20, 1971, a Milan court ordered him to stay within the confines of the town of Ancona, where Adonis died months later, on Nov. 26, 1971.

His remains were returned to the United States and buried in Fort Lee's Madonna Roman Catholic Cemetery.

"Longie" Zwillman
Abner "Longie" Zwillman was among North Jersey's most powerful and influential figures during the Prohibition Era and beyond. Known as the "Al Capone" of his state, he also was known as a political powerhouse. Zwillman amassed a fortune through rum-running, gambling and coin-operated machines.


On Feb. 26, 1959, Zwillman was found dead in his West Orange home. That morning, his wife discovered his lifeless body suspended from its neck by a loop of electrical cord tied to a basement rafter. She told police she recalled her husband getting up in the middle of the night complaining of chest pains.

The Essex County Medical Examiner Dr. Edwin Albano almost immediately ruled the death a suicide by hanging. Zwillman's stepson revealed that the racketeer had been depressed for some time and worried about the jury bribery cases. Zwillman had reportedly battled deep depression since Senate investigators recently began examining his role in the jukebox industry.

An estimated 150 mourners paid their respects on the evening of Feb. 26, and Zwillman's funeral was held the next day. Reporters identified Manhattan restaurateur Toots Schor and movie producer Dory Schary at the funeral.