Dutch Schultz's secret buried treasure

Arthur Flegenheimer, aka Dutch Schultz, was a 1930s German-Jewish-American gangster who was killed while taking a leak in a New Jersey bar. After he was shot, Schultz delivered a fantastically strange stream-of-consciousness rant involving "French Canadian bean soup" and this brilliant bit:

You can play jacks, and girls do that with a soft ball and do tricks with it.
Oh, Oh, dog Biscuit, and when he is happy he doesn't get snappy.

Of course, Schultz's last words later inspired writers William S. Burroughs, Robert Anton Wilson, and Robert Shea. Besides his mastery of avant-garde poetry, Schultz is also famous for a secret he took to his grave: the location of a safe loaded with $7 million that he buried somewhere in upstate New York. It has never been found. Or if it has, the finders ain't talking. From Mental Floss's "Six Lost Treasures Just Waiting To Be Found":
 Images Dutch The only other person (besides Schultz) who knew where the safe was buried was the bodyguard who helped him dig the hole. Shortly after, both men were gunned down by hitmen inside the Palace Chophouse Restaurant in Newark, New Jersey.

On his deathbed, Schultz began hallucinating and rambling after the rusty bullets used by the assassins caused an infection. A court stenographer was brought in to record his statements and some believe his incoherent references to something hidden in the woods in Phoenicia, New York, might be a clue to the location of his buried loot. Of course the meaning of his words is cryptic and not 100% reliable, but that hasn’t stopped hundreds of people from looking.
Six Lost Treasures Just Waiting To Be Found



  1. The stream-of-consciousness thing reminds of O Holy Cow, a book of the found poetry of Phil Rizzuto, compiled by Hart Seely.

    Crazy language stuff is always good. Nonsequiturs are always good. Chicken lips.

  2. If you found the $7 million loot, it would all be in the form of 1930s dollars, i.e. silver certificates, i.e. dollars bills with dates in the 1930s. How would you spend it or deposit it in a bank without raising suspicion?

  3. I have to wonder what sort of bullets he was using. Neither brass, nor copper, nor lead “rust” in any appreciable way(even a patina can take years of exposure in outdoor applications). Further, given the potential ill effects of moisture on the propellants, pains are usually taken to keep ammunition dry.

  4. If he “was killed while taking a leak in a New Jersey bar” and “court stenographer was brought in to record his statements” that means the stenographer was brought to the bar bathroom.

  5. This money that was buried, was it paper money? And you say it was buried? In a safe?

    My guess is that a safe from that era would not be waterproof. A leaky safe buried in upstate New York wouldn’t be the best place to store paper money for 70+ years. It would probably be green mush by now.

  6. @EMJ, I get the impression that while he was shot in the bar bathroom, he died some time later in hospital (or some other such facility). Certainly an infection would take some time to set in.

  7. Sounds like rusty here is being used to mean dirty. Rust itself doesn’t cause infections anyway, although it can provide more surface area I guess.

  8. I thought that the headline read “Dwight Shultz’s Buried Secret.” I wondered what could Howling Mad Murdoch have to hide?

  9. Another author, Edward Wellen, wrote a terrific short story using Schultz’s delirious speechifying.

    “Mouthpiece” was published in Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine’s February 1974’s issue.

    In the story the final hours of “Dutch” Schultz ultimately leads to a software engineer programming the words he spoke into a computer program to decode them (suing 1970s tech). But something goes wrong and he ends up creating an artificial intelligence – one with the desires and personality of Dutch Schultz. Then the telephone becomes the AI’s tool for manipulating it’s world. It’s an absolutely terrific story that left me pondering the nature of personality, memory and thought. It’s also a great little mystery too!

    It can also be found in an audiobook:


  10. Thanks for the link, BB! (I wrote the story on mental_floss)

    According to my research, Dutch was shot at the Chop House, but was rushed to the hospital. He underwent surgery to have the bullets removed (which every source I could find said “rusty” ones were used to intentionally cause an infection so he’d die either way). While lying on his deathbed, that’s when the infection – and the delirious ramblings – began. He held on for something like 24 hours, passing in and out of consciousness the whole time.

    As for the safe – it was apparently specially made to be waterproof. Now, this is 1930s water-proofing technology, so who knows how reliable it really was.

  11. “How would you spend it or deposit it in a bank without raising suspicion?”

    Organized crime has long understood that legal casinos are a great way to launder money.

    You take the dirty cash in and buy chips. You then play the chips. You win back the government mandated percentage. You then cash in the chips and report the winnings to the IRS as legitimate income.

    Note: This information is for entertainment purposes only and does not constitute legal advice!

    — MrJM

  12. Even if the safe was truly waterproof, if mold grew inside there’s no telling what damage it did to the contents.

  13. There’s an animated documentary called The Last Words of Dutch Schultz (2003), made by Dutch animator Gerrit van Dijk. It shows Schultz’s death from various perspectives and also features the voice of Rutger Hauer (as Schultz).

  14. Phisrow, I distinctly remember being told as a kid that tetanus is caused by stepping on rusty nails. It used to be a fairly common piece of folk unwisdom. Schultz may have known that one, but not have known that there are kinds of infection other than tetanus. In those circumstances, I can imagine him concluding that the bullets must have been rusty.

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