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The Bolito King No. 43, Miguel Covarrubias

The Bolito King No. 43, Miguel Covarrubias

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Casper Holstein was a gangster in the early 1900’s. His legacy as the “Bolito King” was known in the underground numbers racket of Harlem. An original native of St. Croix, Virgin Islands, Holstein got his start in the numbers game on Wall Street. 

Casper Holstein earned more than $2 million from his operation. Like the top gangsters, he lived lavishly, owning two apartment buildings in Harlem, a house in Long Island, a fleet of cars and several thousand acres of land in Virginia. Beyond the material, he supported the community by financing dormitories at a few colleges, and contributing to the arts. Holstein helped to build a Baptist school in Liberia, create a museum in New York and provided hurricane relief for St. Croix.

In 1928, Casper Holstein was kidnapped by five white men for a $50,000 ransom. The rumor was that famous gangster Dutch Schultz was behind the operation, looking to take over the city’s numbers racket. Later, Holstein was arrested and served a year in prison for his illegal activity. But once released, he retired from the game and contributed to charities until his death in 1944.

Miguel's artwork and celebrity caricatures have been featured in The New Yorker and Vanity Fair magazines. The linear nature of his drawing style was highly influential to other caricaturists such as Al Hirschfeld. Miguel's first book of caricatures The Prince of Wales and Other Famous Americans was a hit, though not all his subjects were thrilled that his sharp, pointed wit was aimed at them. He immediately fell in love with the Harlem jazz scene, which he frequented with Rosa and friends including Eugene O'Neill and Nickolas Muray

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