Pierre Hotel Robbery/ Rethinking UFOs

Hosted byGeorge Knapp

Pierre Hotel Robbery/ Rethinking UFOs

About the show

Bobby Comfort and Sammy "the Arab" Nalo were highly skilled jewel thieves who specialized in robbing luxury Manhattan hotels. One of their plots targeted the posh Pierre Hotel ― host to kings and queens, presidents and aldermen, and the wealthiest of the wealthy. Mob researcher Daniel Simone joined George Knapp in the first half to share a suspenseful narrative of Mafia intrigue, police corruption, and personal betrayal detailing the most famous hotel robbery in American history. The hotel, located across from Central Park, was targeted the night after New Years 1972, because it was thought that the swanky guests had brought a lot of their jewelry for the previous night's festivities-- indeed the haul was worth some $28 million, Simone recounted.

Comfort was a man of many disguises, he continued, and had registered for one of the hotel rooms using a stolen credit card, which enabled his crew to enter through a side entrance around 4am, for their meticulously planned robbery. Their team, was civil to the hotel staff and guests they took hostage and handcuffed-- they even called for an ambulance for a person who suffered a heart attack. Then one of the robbery crew, posed as a concierge to greet the emergency personnel at the door. The team focused on drilling into the hotel's safety deposit boxes which contained prized jewels and valuables-- including a diamond necklace worth $750,000, and then carted off the loot in Louis Vuitton bags, Simone detailed. Though they successfully escaped, they squabbled over dividing up the score-- many of the jewels were eventually fenced through the Mafia.


What can we claim to know conclusively today about the underlying nature of UFO phenomena that we didn’t know in the late-1940s? In the latter half, researchers Robbie Graham and Greg Bishop looked at how the study of UFOs has suffered from major organizational and methodological problems and is in need of a fresh approach. Graham, who edited the new collection of 14 essays, UFOs: Reframing the Debate, said the extraterrestrial hypothesis, while containing some natural logic, is "incredibly simplistic when applied to the grassroots UFO reports that have been gathering over 70 years...We may be dealing with something far more bizarre than extraterrestrial visitation."

Bishop, one of the book's contributors, stressed the primacy of the witness, and how their perceptions shape or filter their experience. While he suspects there is an external source to UFO encounters, he wondered how much is left after we strip away the witnesses' assumptions and subjectivity. "Are we dealing with something that holds up a mirror to us when we get too close-- how much are we looking at ourselves when something very strange happens to us?," he pondered. A lot of current ufology presents more of a mythos than a scientific methodology, Graham noted, and in the new book of essays, he deliberately contrasted these perspectives, in order to encourage the reader to question the very notion of belief.

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