When he died in 1876, department-store magnate Alexander Turney Stewart was one of the wealthiest men in New York City.
But it was his “iron palace” at Broadway and 10th Street (in photo), the first store to have dozens of departments, that made him rich and renowned.
Which must be why greedy thieves decided to dig up his body two years after he was interred in a family vault at St. Marks in the Bouwerie and hold it for ransom.
This couldn’t have been easy. The vault, covered by a stone slab, was several feet in the ground.
Once the robbers removed another slab and entered the 15 foot–long vault, they still had to open the casket carry out the decomposed body.
The ghoulish crime netted the corpse-nappers $20,000 from Stewart’s widow, who then reburied her husband on Long Island.
The A.T. Stewart store was taken over by Wanamaker’s in the 1890s. Today, it’s the site of a massive apartment building called Stewart House.
Tags: " Gilded Age New York City, A.T. Stewart, crimes of New York, Defunct department stores, department store magnates, famous crimes in Manhattan, graverobbing in New York City, St. Mark's in he Bouwerie, Stewart House, Wanamaker's