Monday, March 9, 2020

How notorious NYC hotel owner escaped Vietnam with suitcases full of gold

Via Nephew Lê Bá Dzũng

Businessman Tran Dinh Truong passed away at his home and business, Hotel Carter, 
on Sunday, May 6, 2012. 
He is survived by sixteen children: Nam Tran, Bac Tran, Thu Tran, Suzen Tran, Caroline Tran, Stephanie Tran, Teresa Yokoi, Monica Tran, Joseph Tran, Victoria Tran, Trang Tran, Margaret Tran, Christine Tran, Madalena Tran, Anthony Tran, Laura Tran, their mothers, and 15 grandchildren.

  More @ Legacy


Amid the chaos of the fall of Saigon, no one noticed the young man dressed in rags making his way to the port, carrying suitcases.

He was, after all, one of many trying to flee the South Vietnamese capital as their communist neighbors to the north took over the city on April 30, 1975.

The secret of the suitcases — stuffed with $7 million in cash and gold — became a uniquely New York story: the money belonged to Truong Dinh Tran, a shipbuilder who ended up one of Manhattan’s most notorious hoteliers, whose violent, drug-ridden Hotel Carter in Times Square was the filthiest in the city, three years running.

The man carrying the bags wasn’t Tran. It was James Dau, who was “adopted” by Tran in 1960, when he was just 11. By the time they fled Saigon, the 25-year-old had lived a life by Tran’s side.

Over the next four decades, Tran turned the money into a $100 million fortune that his 14 children and four wives have squabbled over for years since the 80-year-old died in 2012 without a will. They each stand to inherit between $2.5 million and $3.3 million.


  1. My ex-wife's father was able to get his wealth out of communist Zimbabwe by turning his cash into gold and melting it down and casting it into wrenches, which he painted silver and put in his toolbox, as he was an aircraft mechanic. Customs inspectors on both sides of the ocean(s) never gave them a second glance.

    1. Thanks, a Vietnamese escaping from Vietnam after the end had his gold melted down to make an anchor. Seems it would be fool proof but one of the Commie inspector fell hard on it which made a dent and that was the end. :(