www.nytimes.com/2005/11/27/nyregion/thecity/27brid.html?_r=1, posted 2010 by peter in history scam toread
But this was not just a rhetorical or a fictional conceit. A turn-of-the-century confidence man named George C. Parker actually sold the Brooklyn Bridge more than once. According to Carl Sifakis, who tells his story in "Hoaxes and Scams: A Compendium of Deceptions, Ruses and Swindles," Parker - who was also adept at selling the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Statue of Liberty and Grant's Tomb - produced impressive forged documents to prove that he was the bridge's owner, then convinced his buyers that they could make a fortune by controlling access to the roadway. "Several times," Mr. Sifakis wrote, "Parker's victims had to be rousted from the bridge by police when they tried to erect toll barriers."