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Thread: For 34 years a man collected $1000 a day by picking up coins from Trevi Fountain

  1. #1
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    Default For 34 years a man collected $1000 a day by picking up coins from Trevi Fountain

    For 34 years a man collected $1000 a day by picking up coins from Rome’s Trevi Fountain

    For 34 years a man collected $1000 a day by picking up coins from Rome’s Trevi Fountain

    Benjamin Pineros 8 hrs ago



    (© Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) Tourists visit the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy.



    It’s estimated that 3000 euros are thrown into Rome’s Trevi Fountain every day. But where does all the money go? Well for over 30 years, a fair chunk went to one crafty man.

    The massive baroque structure is considered a symbol of romance in popular culture, thanks in part to its iconic appearances in the Academy Award winning films Roman Holiday and La Dolce Vita.

    Legend holds that whoever tosses a coin into its water is bound to return. But you can’t throw the coin just any way though, there is a certain technique to it; one has to toss the coin with the right hand over the left shoulder.

    When in Rome…
    Every day, thousands of tourists from all around the globe visit the fountain to perform the ritual. For many, the superstition is a token of goodwill. But for a few, it means easy money.

    Roberto Cercelletta, an unemployed man, paid daily visits to the Italian landmark from 1968 until 2002. Under the cover of the early morning darkness, and armed with a rake and a sword-like magnet, Cercelletta managed to collect up to $US1000 per day.

    Most surprisingly, the police were happy to turn a blind eye to his activities, until the media reported the story of Cercelletta’s income in 2002, essentially forcing police to arrest him the next time he was caught in the act.

    “I have no right, but I have been doing this for 34 years,” he was quoted as saying in the New York Times.

    Italy has laws that protect city monuments from pillage, but judges never found a legal basis to charge Cercelletta. His activities weren’t considered theft either, since the money was “technically” nobody’s property.

    The old bum – nicknamed D’Artagnan, because of his once wavy black hair and dazzling beard – passed away in 2013, having reentered the fountain once more, in 2011, in what was reported to be a protest against his unemployment.

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    Elite Member NoNoRehab's Avatar
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    Damn. That's smart!

    I see no problem with this. It's literally money people have thrown away, essentially trash. I'm surprised the city didn't empty the fountain every night though - I would've assumed they took the money for upkeep of the fountain. That they didn't isn't this guy's fault, though.
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    The numbers don't add up.

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    How so?

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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by missbazilb View Post
    How so?
    It's a combination of unlikely probabilities in my opinion:


    • How many coins he would have to scrape out of the fountain to have $1,000. On average, 10,000 to 20,000 coins
    • The number of people who visit the fountain every day, and the likelihood that they are tossing coins in
    • The fact that those coins would be distributed all throughout the fountain and how much work he would have to do to consolidate them.
    • The fact that the article mentions that he used a rake and a magnet, while MANY countries (US, UK, Australia, Japan, lots of European countries in general) have non-magnetic coins. Which means he couldn't pick them up with the magnet.
    • The likelihood that he would be able to get this work done before the time of day that a bunch of tourists would show up.
    missbazilb likes this.

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    Elite Member Nevan's Avatar
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    Or that he made $365,000 a year from fountain raking, and that police turned a blind eye to that much money.
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    I'm sure the facts in the article were embellished for entertainment value. It's a cool story. It seems plausible to me that he could scrape up enough change on a daily basis to live a comfortable life - tax free, of course. A Euro is also worth more than a dollar (even more so back then) so the sheer number of coins he needed to recover from the fountain (including 1 Euro coins) was much less than if it were all U.S. coins.

    I wonder if the lire I threw in Trevi fountain years ago helped subsidize his lifestyle.
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    Elite Member rollo's Avatar
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    He couldn't do that now. The fountain has been closed for years.

    ETA: Finally re-opened in November - time to go!
    Last edited by rollo; February 13th, 2016 at 11:22 AM.
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    Elite Member Nevan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qwerty View Post
    I'm sure the facts in the article were embellished for entertainment value. It's a cool story. It seems plausible to me that he could scrape up enough change on a daily basis to live a comfortable life - tax free, of course. A Euro is also worth more than a dollar (even more so back then) so the sheer number of coins he needed to recover from the fountain (including 1 Euro coins) was much less than if it were all U.S. coins.

    I wonder if the lire I threw in Trevi fountain years ago helped subsidize his lifestyle.
    They used US currency in the article, so that was my point. Could you imagine dragging away $1000US in euros everyday? How many bags would that be? How far would he have to drag them to his car? How long would collecting them and then walking away with them take? It's just too far fetched to believe.

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    I wonder if the lire I threw in Trevi fountain years ago helped subsidize his lifestyle.
    I read this thru the first time as "I wonder if the TIRE I threw in.....". Wondered how that was going to help the guy. Welp.
    SHELLEE likes this.
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    Elite Member qwerty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nevan View Post
    They used US currency in the article, so that was my point. Could you imagine dragging away $1000US in euros everyday? How many bags would that be? How far would he have to drag them to his car? How long would collecting them and then walking away with them take? It's just too far fetched to believe.
    The article states he made up to $1,000 per day so not everyday. $1000 was on a really great day. And the currency may have been changed to dollars in the article for the sake of North American readers. I may not be giving my fellow Americans enough credit but how many of us know the worth of 888 Euros? Or I could be ridiculous.

    I bet there are 100s of 1 Euro coins thrown in that fountain everyday. Probably not all that heavy or cumbersome in a bag or two.

    As I mentioned before, things have been exaggerated for the sake of a good story. I have no doubt though that this guy worked out some system whereby he could collect and transport enough coin from the fountain to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. You can get pretty good at something after doing it for 34 years.
    Last edited by qwerty; February 13th, 2016 at 05:42 PM.
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