The Art of Exploiting Credulity

How Victor Lustig exploited it to sell the unsellable

Mentalcodex | Julfi
3 min readAug 8, 2023

April 1925, 5 men are gathered in a lounge at the luxurious Crillon Hotel in Paris.

They’ve secretly been selected to discuss the greatest deal of the 20th century…

The sale of the Eiffel Tower.

Victor Lustig, a high-ranking official says:

“As you may have read in the newspapers, the maintenance costs of the Eiffel Tower are too high. The French state can no longer cover it. We have no choice but to sell it.”

He is speaking to the 4 best scrap metal dealers in the area, and the offer is simple: 7,300 tons of steel for an unbeatable price.

After this proposal, the men leave the Hotel to go to the Eiffel Tower.

Lustig has a special authorization giving him priority over other visitors. He goes technical, showing them the building and making businessmen salivate over the 15,000 beams and 2.5 million rivets.

When it’s time to part, all the men remain skeptical, but one shows more interest than the others. This was André Poisson, who closed the deal, only to realize a few days later that he’d been swindled.

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Mentalcodex | Julfi

Power dynamics expert. I share essays and historical case studies about Human nature and its relationship with power.