Famed mobster John Gotti is the focus of the new A&E miniseries Gotti: Godfather & Son. The miniseries will see John Gotti, Jr. reflect on the close relationship he had with his father, as well as the details that led to his father’s imprisonment and his own departure from the mafia.
Given the continued interest in Gotti as a cultural icon, and the criminal empire he created during the 1980s, some may be wondering how much the crime boss made during his lifetime. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Gotti had an estimated net worth of $30 million. Learn how he made it and how he liked spending it below.
1. At the Height of His Power He Made Between $10-$12 Million Per Year
In his book Underboss, author and former mob associate Sammy “The Bull” Gravano estimated that Gotti had an annual income of no less than $5 million during his years as boss. He says that while he has no proof to back up his claims, he estimates that Gotti’s annual take was more likely between $10 and $12 million.
Gotti was also known for expensive tastes. According to the Chicago Tribune, Gotti became known as the “Dapper Don” in public for his habit of sporting $2K Brioni suits and dining in some of New York’s fanciest restaurants. Gotti made his fortune through a combination of narcotics, pornography, gambling, labor racketeering, stolen cars and prostitution. When Gotti was put on trial for murder in 1985, his attorney reportedly tried to pass him off as a man with no affiliation to the mob and say that he was a $60,000-a-year plumbing contractor.
2. He Regularly Gambled With Amounts As High As $30K & Once Lost $60K In a Dice Game
Many have confirmed that John Gotti was a compulsive gambler during his lifetime. This compulsion extended to board games like Scrabble and Monopoly. In his memoir The Sinatra Club: My Life Inside the New York Mafia, former associate Paul Polisi said that Gotti would regularly bet large amounts of cash. “Even though Gotti loved playing cards he was a lousy poker player and he hardly ever had a winner at the track – but he was great at board games,” Polisi wrote.
“John and me and Foxy and Jerothe, a young guy who’d been with John since he was a kid, played marathon games of Scrabble and Monopoly,” he added. “We bet on those games and John won a lot of them. He says that during one game of Scrabble, Gotti bet a whopping amount on whether or not he was right. “Three hundreds clams says it’s a name, a proper f**king noun and you lose.”
Polisi also revealed they once played Monopoly with real money instead of the fake cash, and that players had to spend $3,000 to buy in. All That’s Interesting went on to say that when Gotti actually did gamble, he would spend upwards of $30K a night. Reportedly considered to be a drain on the Gambino family’s profits, Gotti even lost a whopping $60K in the span of a single dice game.
3. He Made the Gambino Crime Family An Estimated $500 Million During His Lifetime
In his article titled “John Gotti Running the Mob”, journalist Selwyn Raab detailed the mobster’s rise to power. He reports that Gotti organized the hit on former Gambino family boss Paul Castellano on December 16, 1985, and that he acting boss in all but name, meaning all of the family’s capos knew of his involvement. He was formally named the new boss of the Gambino family on January 15, 1986.
At the time of Gotti’s takeover, the Gambino family was regarded as the most powerful American mafia family, and his tenure as boss allowed them to reap an annual income of $500 million. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the Gambino family made most of their fortune through a combination of loan sharking, construction, gambling, hijacking, and extortion. Gotti remained the head of the family until shortly before his death in 2002, and succeeded power to his older brother Peter Gotti.
4. During a 1986 Murder Trial He Reportedly Paid Off a Juror for $60K
Gotti was brought up on charges of murder three separate times during his life, and was acquitted on all three counts. These led to his famed nickname of “Teflon Don.” During his 1986 trial, the New York Times reports that he paid the eleventh juror on his jury to vote not guilty. The juror in question, George Pape, was paid $60K for his services.
Gotti was acquitted on March 13, 1987, and Pape was arrested on obstruction-of-justice charges in 1992. Pape reportedly withheld information that he was a close friend of someone connected to Gotti, and was therefore allowed to be on the jury “George Pape had no business being on John Gotti’s jury and he knew it,” the prosecutor later said, adding that Pape had no issue “selling his vote.”
Pape wound up serving three years in prison. Bosko Radonjich, the man who allegedly paid Pape off on Gotti’s behalf and turned out to be the close friend of Pape’s that was alluded to during his trial, would disappear soon after Pape’s sentencing and remained a fugitive for eight years. Charges against Radonjich for jury tampering were dropped in 2000, according to the New York Times.
5. Twice He Offered Millions to the Aryan Brotherhood to Carry Out Hits While In Prison
Gotti was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 1992. After a violent scuffle with an inmate resulted, however, Gotti approached the heads of the Aryan Brotherhood, David Sahakian and Michael McElhiney, and offered to pay them to have the inmate in question killed. According to New York Daily News, the specific amount that Gotti offered was unclear. That said, the outlet speculates that the crime boss offered the Aryan Brotherhood somewhere between $40K and $400K.
“The amount apparently was communicated in prison sign language,” one prosecutor revealed. “So it is possible that the signing for both amounts was similar.” In 1997, Gotti made a similarly pricey offer. After reading Sammy “The Bull” Gravano’s book Underboss, he learned that Gambino consigliere Frank Locascio had bragged about wanting to kill him. He responded by putting a $1 million price on Locascio’s head. New York Daily News confirmed that neither hit was carried out.