From the best selling author of Red Herrings & White Elephants, Pop Goes the Weasel, Ten Minute Mysteries and many more...
The Mysterious Death of God’s Own Banker - Did Roberto Calvi, head of a bank with close connections to the Vatican, take his own life or was there a more sinister reason why he was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge?
Early in the morning of 18 June 1982, in a scene redolent of a real-life Da Vinci Code, the body of Roberto Calvi, chairman of one of Italy’s most influential financial establishments, the Banco Ambrosiano, was found hanging from scaffolding under London’s Blackfriars Bridge by a passing postman.
Calvi’s pockets were full of stones and, bizarrely, a brick had been pushed into the zip of his trousers. The smartly dressed banker was carrying nearly £10,000 in cash in three different currencies in his jacket pocket – lire, Swiss francs and pounds sterling. The man who provided banking facilities for the Vatican, earning him the media nickname of ‘God’s Banker’, had, apparently taken his own life.
It seemed pretty clear to most people that he had committed suicide, but had he? Others were far more doubtful, especially on discovering that Calvi was supposed to have been in Milan at the time. Indeed his passport was back there, and he had made no plans to travel to London at all.
Milan was where Roberto Calvi had been born, on 13 April 1920, just as Europe was recovering from the aftermath of the Great War. It was at the end of the Second World War that Calvi joined the Banco Ambrosiano, becoming gradually promoted within the organization and, in the mid 1960s, acquiring the patronage of an important shareholder, Sicilian-born Michele Sindona, known to his associates as ‘the Shark’.
Sindona had begun his working life as a tax accountant, but he soon switched to less law-abiding pursuits and began to assist his Sicilian associates in their smuggling operations. When he moved to Milan, he quickly impressed Mafia bosses with his tax-avoidance skills and in 1957 started work with the Gambino family by managing their growing profits from heroin smuggling.
By the end of the first year, Sindona had not only actually bought his first bank, but he had also become firm friends with Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI, who was among those who grew to rely upon the Sicilian’s financial acumen, profiting considerably from it.
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About the Author
Albert Jack is an English writer and historian who became something of a publishing phenomenon in 2004 when his first book Red Herrings and White Elephants, which explored the origins of well-known phrases in the English language, became a huge international best-seller. The book was serialised by the Sunday Times for over a year and stayed in the top ten of the UK Sunday Times best-seller list for sixteen months. His follow up book Shaggy Dogs and Black Sheep was also a best seller and has sold over 150,000 copies since publication in October 2005. It became Penguin Book's Christmas best-seller. His hilarious third book, a study of Urban Legends called Phantom Hitchhikers is also a best-seller and was released in paperback in September 2007. In the same month Red Herrings and White Elephants was re-released for the first time in paperback and Albert has provided 30% more content for a revised and expanded version that is sure to hit the best-seller list once again. Fascinated by discovering the truth behind the world's great stories, Albert has become an expert in explaining the unexplained, which is great news for conversations and storytellers everywhere. He is now a veteran of hundreds of live television shows and thousands of radio appearances world-wide. His books have become best-sellers in Great Britain & Europe, America, Canada, South Africa, Australia and translated into many different languages. In 2007, Albert Jack's Loch Ness Monsters and Raining Frogs, a study of the world's great mysteries from the Bermuda Triangle to the disappearance of Glen Miller. Crop Circles, Loch Ness Monster, UFO's, Marilyn Monroe and the Mary Celeste have also come under investigation along with many more famous stories. Albert uncovers the sometimes surprising truth and his acerbic wit makes for an entertaining read. Loch Ness Monsters was be the third book Albert released in the autumn of 2007 and in March 2009 Random House published the same title in America. In 2008 Penguin UK released the best-selling Pop Goes the Weasel, Albert's book exploring the dark history and meaning of nursery rhymes that became an instant best-seller and offered the writer new contract to produce two brand new Albert Jack books for release in 2009 and 2010. The first of these, The Old Dog and Duck, Albert's fascinating historic study of the origins of pub and hotel names is due in the shops on September 3rd 2009, closely followed by Penguin USA issuing stateside versions of Pop Goes the Weasel on 6th October and Shaggy Dogs and Black Sheep in March 2010. In September 2010 What Caesar did for my Salad, Albert's humorous study of our favourite foods reveals who Caesar really was, why sausages are bangers, what the Tartars had to with raw steak why the Thousand Islands developed their seafood sauce and who Margarita was and why she inspired the world's most famous pizza. Finally, What Caesar Did for my Salad is due for release in America in September 2011, The Old Dog and Duck is released as a paperback in the UK during October 2011, Phantom Hitchhikers Part One and Two are due for release in China in November 2011 and Random House are publishing Albert's brand new UK title, It's a Wonderful Word, on November 3rd 2011. In 2012 Albert re-released Sounds from the Street and published two new books, Money for Old Rope Parts 1 & 2 The success of his books has a lot to do with Albert's invention of what he calls the 'ten minute read,' enabling readers to open his books at any point and be fully entertained for ten minutes at a time before 'going off to do something more productive with their time.' Currently hosting a series of Writer's Workshops in England & South Africa, Albert has plans for another ten hard backs that look set to continue his success for many years to come. Albert is also an accomplished lecturer and after dinner speaker.