I want to share a story about something that happened in 1985Louis Palafoutas
This one should be filed under hard to believe or if I wasn’t there I wouldn’t believe it or that wouldn’t happen today.
As I said, it was 1985 and I was a gold trader at A-Mark Precious Metals. We were in Beverly Hills at the corner or Roxbury and Wilshire. For this story I should add I drove an old Volkswagen Bug.
My primary function at that time had been developing and servicing the jewelry manufacturers in the jewelry district in downtown Los Angeles. The jewelry district was located on Hill St and Broadway St between 5th and 7th. LA’S jewelry manufacturers were primarily karat gold makers casting assorted goods in 10 and 14kt. Their shops were in the many buildings that made up the jewelry district. They used a lot of gold, figure our customers used about 50 to 100 kilos per day. The kilos they bought were known as jars of shot. This is 24kt .9999 gold in the form of BB’s in the amount of one kilo per jar. This way when a jeweler wants to make 10 or 14kt gold from 24kt gold it’s like making a bread recipe. Weigh out this much gold with this much alloy and now you have the correct karat gold. A kilo weighs a little over two pounds, the weight of these little jars can be deceiving. Just like when someone picks up a gold coin for the first time, they are always surprised at what it weighs compared to its size. 100 kilos are over 200 pounds. All these orders are delivered by Brinks. Back then we managed inventory at our office. Every day depending on who ordered what the day before Brinks would pick up the kilos from us, drive them downtown and drive them up and down Hill and Broadway in an armored car with two or three armed guards and deliver the gold.
A-Mark had owned a building on Spring St that was an old bank vault from the turn of the century. The street level entrance was a small nondescript area that led to a downstairs that was a beautiful ornate bank from the 1920’s. As you took the stairs down below you first noticed a beautiful giant vault door taller than me over six feet in diameter. It was filled with safety deposit boxes. Outside the vault were counters and rooms for private use. Spring St was one street over from Broadway. All three run parallel, Hill, Broadway and Spring. A-Mark’s office was located across town in Beverly Hills. This is the set up.
One day Brinks went on strike and so none of my jewelers were going to get their gold. By the second day they were in a panic, orders were accumulating, something had to be done. It was decided I would take the kilos myself, alone, in my Volkswagen to our bank vault on Spring St. I would set up a table, haul the gold downstairs into the vault area. I would sit there with invoices and boxes full of gold kilo jars of shot. I would have the jewelers come down one by one and pick up their gold. This sounds like a good plan correct? Well this is exactly what happened. I loaded over 200 pounds of gold into the back seat of my old Volkswagen in Beverly Hills and alone drove to downtown Los Angeles. Parked on Spring St outside our vault building. Hauled everything downstairs and set up my office and delivered the gold.
Today I can’t imagine this happening, but it did then, and I lived to tell about it.