This is Awesome – The Napoleon of Crime

This is Awesome – The Napoleon of Crime

By RiggzTuesday - June 1st, 2010Categories: Awesome

The first thing he'll take is your dignity...

What if I told you that master criminals, NAY, supervillains actually existed?  You’d probably tell me to go back to reading those “picture books” and get my “head” out “of” the clou”ds”.  Well, the joke’s on you, because I barely know how to read and I’m shorter than I look.

Keep reading for a rundown on Adam Worth, the Napoleon of Crime, and a picture of a pretty great mustache.

"I stole this facial hair... from your mom!"

Not too shabby, huh?  Well trust me when I tell you that Adam Worth had even more criminal ingenuity than he had style.

“Awesome, huh? Tell me why…”

Where do I begin? Given his status as supervillian how about with his ORIGIN STORY!

When the American Civil War broke out, Worth was 17. He lied about his age and enlisted in the Union army. Worth served in the 2nd New York heavy Artillery, Battery L (later designated 34th New York Battery) and was promoted to sergeant in a couple of months. He was wounded in the Second Battle of Bull Run on August 30, 1862 and was shipped to Georgetown Hospital in Washington DC. In the hospital, he learned he had been listed as “killed in action” and left.

That’s right. When Worth found out he was dead… he just left! Disappeared into the night, I imagine.  Leaving behind one empty, probably soiled, hospital bed, because that’s what supervillains do.  From here, Worth used fake names to get enlistment bonuses from the military, before deciding to move to New York City and set up shop as a pick pocket. “That doesn’t seem very supervillainy…” is what you’re probably thinking, but let me tell you Worth showed a natural flair for crime and quickly organized a gang of marauding pick pocketeers to do his dirty work for him.

“Okay… that’s kind of awesome, but there better be more…”

You better believe there’s more. Let’s move through this quickly:

  • He was arrested and sentenced to prison.
  • After a couple weeks he escaped and immediately started working for a prominent mobster.
  • Teamed up with a safecracker to rob the Boylston National Bank vault.
  • Disappeared to Europe where he… opened an American themed restaurant?

… I know, it doesn’t sound very cool, but what if I told you that the second floor of the building was an illegal gambling hall, complete with poker tables that folded up into the walls when the place got raided?  Oh! Now all of a sudden it’s super cool. God you’re fickle.

“This IS good, but I still don’t know if I’d call him a ‘Master Criminal/Supervillain’ like Lex Luthor or Yogi Bear…”

Okay, here goes. Worth moved to London where he formed his own criminal network (a Facebook of robberies and burglaries), all the while living under and assumed name as a member of high society.  The key to all of this is that everyone who did Worth’s dirty work didn’t even know who he was!  It wasn’t long before his capture became the Scotland Yard’s top priority. Too bad they didn’t realize Worth had been buying off judges for quite some time [Editor’s Note. As soon as you are able, buy off a judge.  You can thank me later.]

But Worth wasn’t just about plundering for financial gain.  For you see, he was a gentleman crime lord and in 1876 Worth stole an extremely valuable Thomas Gainsborough painting, which he did not sell.  Instead… he just hung it in his office like whatever.  With his feng shui, finally, all sorted out, Worth decided to take a little vacation to South America… where he proceeded to steal $500,000 worth of uncut diamonds.  When he got back to England he decided to settle down with a woman and start a family, possibly building a crib for his children out of gold.

Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end, and a failed attempt at an improvised robbery led to Worth’s capture.  Lucky for us, this guy is still as cool as they come when he’s on trial and insisted that accusations of a lifetime of crime was merely hearsay.  The prosecution couldn’t prove anything and so Worth was only found guilty of one count of robbery and sentenced to a handful of years in prison.  He got out early for good behavior and retired to England with his two children (Turns out his wife went insane while he was in prison.  Whoops!).

Besides a featured article on, Worth’s greatest legacy was that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle reportedly used him as the inspiration for Professor Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes’ greatest rival and the first true example of a literary supervillain.  Doyle even took Worth’s nickname, the “Napoleon of Crime”, and applied it to his character.  The only downside was that Doyle didn’t feel that Moriarty needed a mustache as totally awesome as Worth’s.  Seriously.  It’s the main reason I decided to write this.