From Madoff to Aspen, Prankster Terrorists Stalk the Rich
Bomb the rich and steal their art! That seems to be the New Year’s rebel yell. First, thieves stole a statue from Bernie Madoff (they later returned it with a cheeky note), then the pranks got dark, spread to Aspen, and turned deadly with a bombing attempt that ended in a suicide. Just a strange end to 2008, or will 2009 be the year an anti-capitalist prankster terrorist movement spreads across the country and gnaws at the heels of the rich?
Initially, people thought the statue stolen from Bernie Madoff’s Florida estate last month was a simple theft — just some dumb punks looking to cash in on the world’s most infamous swindler. All eyes were on eBay. Considering all the other fallout, from suicide to sports, the theft went unnoticed and most thought the statue was a small item taken from the house. Instead, it was a sizable metal sculpture of two tennis judges perched atop a seat watching a match. The five-foot $10,000 copper Floyd Wanner sculpture turned up Wednesday on the grounds of the Palm Beach Country Club with a note attached reading: “Bernie the Swindler, Lesson: Return stolen property to rightful owners. Signed by The Educators.”
The Palm Beach Post speculates that leaving the statue at PBCC with the note may have been similar to a symbolic gesture in the 2004 German movie The Edukators, in which anti-capitalist activists break into mansions, rearrange furniture, and leave notes reading “The days of plenty are over.” The film centers around a group of activists that kidnap a wealthy businessman, hold ideological discussions about money and politics, then let him go in hopes that he learned a valuable lesson on ethics and morality. Police agree the Madoff theft was similar, if not a copycat crime. “We think it was done just to prove a point,” a police spokesman told Reuters.
The Aspen bomb attempt was a bit more serious. Aspen resident Jim Blanning gift-wrapped four bombs, coolly delivered them to two Aspen banks and a GAP store because, he claimed, he had grown tired of seeing Aspen turn into a playground for the rich. “You had better be a very cool individual and not start a panic or many in Aspen will pay a horrible price in blood,” the note began. “Do not move or cover the very big firecracker in the plastic container. Unique chemicals and electronics.” The note demanded that bank employees place $60,000 in used $100 bills. The note also said, “The other three Aspen banks are going through the same thing this one is and this is as much a suicide mission as a bank robber.” The bombs were disabled, and Blanning later shot himself in the head. Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis, who had known Blanning for 40 years, said Blanning wanted to go out with a big bang. “I think he wanted to end his life with an audience.” Mission accomplished.