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The Almighty Buck Idle

Man Mines Midtown New York Sidewalks 183

Posted by samzenpus
from the they-got-cars-big-as-bars dept.
43-year-old Raffi Stepanian makes money searching New York City streets, but it's not loose change or soda cans he's looking for, it's gold. Stepanian says he can make almost $1000 a week scouring the diamond district's streets for bits of gold, platinum, and precious gems. "Material falls off clothes, on the bottom of shoes, it drops off jewelry, and it falls in the dirt and sticks to the gum on the street. The percentage of gold out here on the street is greater than the amount of gold you would find in a mine . . . It comes close to a mother lode because in the street, you're picking up gold left by the industry," he says.

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Man Mines Midtown New York Sidewalks

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    and the streets are paved with gold?

  • by SleazyRidr (1563649) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @02:43PM (#36517020)

    Everyone else will start doing it too, and he'll have to go back to his day job.

    • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @02:44PM (#36517046)

      Everyone else will start doing it too, and he'll have to go back to his day job.

      You're missing the plan, man. He's going to sell people the tools to do street mining. After that, he sits back in fat city.

      • by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @02:46PM (#36517078) Homepage Journal

        Everyone else will start doing it too, and he'll have to go back to his day job.

        You're missing the plan, man. He's going to sell people the tools to do street mining. After that, he sits back in fat city.

        Then comes the book.

        Then comes the TV show.

        Yep, he's on Easy Street, in more ways than one.

        just be careful of claim jumpers.

        • Then came the churches then came the schools
          Then came the lawyers then came the rules
          Then came the trains and the trucks with their load
          And the dirty old track was the telegraph road
        • Not unless he gets shot before then. That man needs to be damned careful whom me peddles his shit to. Especially in New York of all places.

          • by bmo (77928)

            New York is one of the safest places on the planet.

            Crime is at historic lows since they started keeping records.

            Remove your head from your ass.

            --
            BMO

            • >Crime is at historic lows since they started keeping records

              I said that and it's complete nonsense, because obviously records were kept going all the way back to New Amsterdam.

              I really meant to say "Since statistics have been published" and that would be 1963 - nearly 50 years ago.

              --
              BMO

            • BMO, just look at his sig. Everything you need to know about DigiShaman is in that sig,

              OF COURSE he thinks NYC is a dangerous pesthole, full of dangerous criminals.

              • by bmo (77928)

                Oh god, I didn't think they existed.

                I heard about them in legends. I thought they were just sockpuppets.

                --
                BMO

          • by Unkyjar (1148699)

            I'm assuming that you're referring to those dangerous hasidem gangs that roam the diamond district, forcing everyone to buy retail?

      • Truth in history (or at least, mythical history). Supposedly nobody made more money during the gold rush years than the shovel makers.

        • by ackthpt (218170)

          Truth in history (or at least, mythical history). Supposedly nobody made more money during the gold rush years than the shovel makers.

          Looking over the settlement of California, the gold rush populated the state - failed or retired prospectors built ranches, planted orchards, built toll roads, drove stage coaches, built fishing fleets, etc. Without the Gold Rush California may not have developed anywhere near as much as it has.

          • Our weather and fertile farmland takes issue with that - it would have developed just as much, but perhaps just not as quickly.

          • That's what I used to think, too. But it turns out, most of California's present (huge) population arrived a lot later [wikipedia.org].

        • by superwiz (655733)
          Oh, common. It's not the shovel makers. The company which made the most money in the Gold Rush is still with us today. It was Levy's. They made the pants that the pants which were just right for the job (jeans) -- sturdy enough to sustain high wear and tear and yet comfortable.
        • Nope, the lion's share of the money that was made in the Gold Rush was made by the merchants. Here's an example [ca.gov] of the prices for some staples along with how much the average gold panner/miner brought in per day.
      • from the TFA:

        ...armed with tweezers and a butter knife

        I doubt that there's much money in that.

      • by loafula (1080631)

        You're missing the plan, man. He's going to sell people the tools to do street mining. After that, he sits back in fat city.

        You mean a styrofoam cup and a butter knife?

    • by rwven (663186)

      Yeah seems like the worst thing in the world he could do is let people know about this...

    • by vlm (69642)

      Everyone else will start doing it too, and he'll have to go back to his day job.

      I think the problem is living in NYC on "less than $1000 / wk" is probably physically impossible unless you eat rats and live in a homeless shelter. Or you're playing games like claiming you only get $20K of income but you're getting $50K of student loans / grants / scholarships so you're really spending $70K/yr ...

      Where I live, 50K will get you a lifestyle of roughly "small, older house" or a Very deluxe apartment, decent mid-level new-ish car or brand new cheapie, somewhat above average day to day grocer

      • Oh please - $50k/year in New York is extremely doable. The recommended amount spent on housing monthly on $50k is $1,388. That's enough for a one bedroom (okay location) or studio (nice location), or half of a two bedroom (really nice location) with 2/3 left over. Given that the individual wouldn't need a car, that means that 2/3 of the income goes to just what you were describing: vacation, groceries, gadgets, and the like.
        • by Shados (741919)

          Are you a new yorker? Because then your standard is quite skewed. My wife's family is all in NYC, and I lived in Montreal and in the Boston area, and a 1400$ apartment with the specs you mentionnd in NYC, by my standards, is totally unacceptable. Total dump in garbage areas.

          • Agreed. In my small hometown, the crappiest area is still better than NYC's "really nice location", at least in my eyes. Also, my wife can walk to the party store down the street at night without needing to carry a small arsenal to defend herself with.

          • by Unkyjar (1148699)

            Maybe not in Manhattan, but you can find places in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens for those prices. Right now Long Island City and Astoria as well as Greenpoint will have those types of offerings.

        • by Phleg (523632)

          $50,000, with a minimum of 20% tax rate ends up being $3,333/mo. That's 41% of your income, which is a completely fucking ludicrous proportion of your income to spend on housing.

          • by Dahamma (304068)

            Tax rate? You seriously think he's filing income taxes from sifting trash from the gutters? Plus, he lives in Queens. He can probably afford a decent 1BR on what he makes...

            • by LocalH (28506)

              He will be now. I guarantee the IRS (as well as NYS and NYC officials) will be looking into this. Income doesn't have to be money, so the relevant tax authorities would be fully within their rights to go after him, and he's just given his name and location directly to them!

              • by Dahamma (304068)

                I think you overestimate the IRS's competence as well as motivation for going after someone who is effectively a high-end dumpster diver :)

                But regardless of the tax consequences, after this article his Diamond District gold mining days are numbered. As a few posters have pointed out, if you strike a gold vein the LAST thing you want to do is tell everyone where it is! (especially if it's on land you don't own...)

        • Only if you really want to use Income/3/12 as your solution for recommended monthly housing spending. By that metric, I pay half the rent I should. I'd suggest either starting from after tax income or dividing by 4. Sure, you may have to stretch beyond this in NYC (though this guy lives in queens) but a third of your pre-tax works out to be a lot of money.

          Not that I don't agree with you that 50k in NYC is doable. It certainly is and MANY of the people who live there do it with less than that.

        • by Dunbal (464142) *
          Not needing a car is not equivalent to not needing to travel.What, the buses and subway are free in NY now?
          • by rjstanford (69735)

            Not needing a car is not equivalent to not needing to travel.What, the buses and subway are free in NY now?

            Yup. At least they are compared to needing a car. Many people continually pay a car payment, the average of which is around $500/mo [msn.com]. Add in $75/mo for basic insurance, then money for gas, tires, maintenance, air fresheners, &c, and you're easily up around $25/day, 7 days a week.

            Buses cost money. But not that much money.

        • Or if you live a hundred miles north for that money you can probably find yourself a 1500+ square foot 3 bedroom house with land, in a decent location and a Car. For us Upstaters you are talking a quality of life that someone on welfare lives like.

      • by rjstanford (69735)

        Even in Manhattan, $1k/week is pretty much the median income: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Manhattan#Household_income [wikipedia.org]

    • Everyone else will start doing it too, and he'll have to go back to his day job.

      Which is why it's a bogus story. There's no pot of gold on New York streets. Only in a con man's mind. Yeesh.

  • by Saishuuheiki (1657565) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @02:47PM (#36517104)

    Who else thought this would be more along the lines of about land-mines or claymores? It would at least be a more interesting story...

    Also much like old-fashioned gold mining, once others start doing it he can't make as much money doing it anymore

  • Boom Town (Score:5, Funny)

    by dummondwhu (225225) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @02:48PM (#36517146)
    NYC is going to become the next boom town! That's when the whores move in! Oh, wait...
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @02:54PM (#36517264) Journal
    In a production-level mine, you will get a lot more minerals out of it than a thousand bucks per week.
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      In a production-level mine, you will get a lot more minerals out of it than a thousand bucks per week.

      Considering how much investment he's had to make in equipment and payroll, I'd say he's ahead of the cost curve.

  • by Aladrin (926209) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @02:55PM (#36517268)

    Oh, "Can make". I thought he was averaging that at first.

    No, sometimes he almost makes $1000 (in the video, that's "over $800")... Other times, maybe he makes nothing? We don't know.

  • by rossdee (243626) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @02:58PM (#36517316)

    My first thought was IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices like Iraq and Afghanistan )

  • by molo (94384)

    I walk on this street going to work, 47th between 5th and 6th. There is no way this guy is getting the equivalent of half an ounce of gold per week from the street. Its not like you look down and see flakes or anything. Insanity.

    -molo

    • Re:Bull (Score:5, Funny)

      by royallthefourth (1564389) <royallthefourth@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @03:14PM (#36517626)

      Tomorrow they'll post an article about a sysadmin at a big company clearing out old home directories and supplementing his income by finding bitcoins.

      • Hi, I'm a sysadmin. I see servers come and go at a local data center. As the owners pack up their equipment to leave, I often see bitcoins falling out of the vent holes and onto the floor. All you need to capture them is to use a token-ring field. It's a new advanced technology built off of the original token-ring network.

        For more information on how YOU can be in on this exclusive one in a lifetime offer, please e-mail me at imawanker@example.com for details.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Based on what experience?

      How about you spend amonth doing it? or just following him around? No, that would be data, and it's much better to assume that even though you aren't specifically looking, clearly you would see things you aren't looking for in a manner that's least efficient for searching*.

      The probability that, on average and in that area, you can get a grand a month isn't really that bad.

      *granted, I am assuming you walk in a manner efficient for getting from A to B and not a systematic grid search.

    • by Megane (129182)
      That's because he's so good at keeping the street clean!
  • Someone in the city's administration needed to clean the streets and sidewalks but ALSO save money, perhaps?

  • Oh great, now I have the Paul Simon song stuck in my head:
    "People say I'm crazy
    I got diamonds on the soles of my shoes
    Well that's one way to lose
    These walking blues
    Diamonds on the soles of your shoes"
    • Oh great, now I have the Paul Simon song stuck in my head:

      Hmm... that must be annoying. Let me replace it with something else:-

      "Here's a little song I wrote,
      You might want to sing it note for note,
      Don't worry,
      Be happy."


      Oh, that's okay... not at all, don't mention it! ;-)

  • NY Personal Property Law Article 7-B section 252, anything over value of 20 dollars must be reported and file title to police. Fail to do so carries misdemeanor charge. If not claimed by owner, the property goes to the finder, only after he/she files for title of that property.

    I assume, this guy will be hit with misdemeanor charge pretty soon.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      why? he finds lots of piece individually worth less the 20 dollars.

    • by rrossman2 (844318)

      Or each piece he finds isn't worth much, but the total of it all combined over a week is.

      So each piece may only be worth $2, but he finds 400 of them, bringing the total to $800. So I doubt that personal property law would apply

      • by Dogtanian (588974)

        So each piece may only be worth $2, but he finds 400 of them, bringing the total to $800. So I doubt that personal property law would apply

        Er... why would you think that? If we only have the OP's reporting of the law to go on (and it's correct) then in the absence of any law or regulation that would tie together otherwise unrelated incidences of lost-and-found (i.e. lost by different people) what legal basis would there be for being able to "add them up" like that instead of treating them separately? None, as far as I can see.

    • by BluBrick (1924)
      Yep. At least until you've mined it out, and this guy has kept his secret for some 27 years - until now.
  • The capitol building of Denver has the dome covered with 200 ounces of 24 carat gold, and it needs replacing about every 40 years. That means it's losing several ounces per year, and most all of it is coming off in rainwater that ends up dumping through the drainage spouts down the sides. People tried to collect it, like this guy. I've been told, but can't find an online reference, that collecting rainwater from the Capitol Building was made illegal to prevent mayhem, so now it goes down the sewer.

    • The collection of rain water from the capitol building being banned might also have to do with water rights, since I know that it is big deal in in that area of the country and those laws can be pretty bizarre as well.
      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        True in some places in Colorado things like rain barrels are illegal. Which doesn't make much sense to me at all but there you go.

        • True in some places in Colorado things like rain barrels are illegal. Which doesn't make much sense to me at all but there you go.

          It's not that they're illegal per se. It's that in arid states, water rights are more than 100% used, and first in time of use gets first priority, meaning the people who have water rights older than yours, get to use their entire allotment of water before you get to use any. Collecting rainwater means someone else doesn't get their full allotment. As it turns out, California is one of the major water rights holders, so it's not because the guy down the street is complaining that you can't retain the wat

    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      Yeah, 200 ounces in 40 years means 5 ounces of gold per year, at say $1500 an ounce (not exactly true because troy ounce > normal ounce) = 5 * 1500 = $7,500 a year. Yeah I think I just found my new full time job. Not.
    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      The capitol building of Denver has the dome covered with 200 ounces of 24 carat gold, and it needs replacing about every 40 years. That means it's losing several ounces per year, and most all of it is coming off in rainwater that ends up dumping through the drainage spouts down the sides. People tried to collect it, like this guy. I've been told, but can't find an online reference, that collecting rainwater from the Capitol Building was made illegal to prevent mayhem, so now it goes down the sewer.

      Does it make gold bricks?

  • This is America and our streets are paved in silver, gold, platinum and some highly carcinogenic chemicals......
  • C'mon, guys. Pay attention. The NYP has about as much credibility as your average supermarket gossip rag. That's not to say that everything they say is wrong, but if they're your only source to a story don't put much stock in it.
    • Does it really matter? Unless you're planning on sweeping the streets for gold yourself, nobody cares whether the story is true or not.

  • NY City code enforcement officer fines man for mining gold without a permit. The city's spokesman commented, "If we're going to hold grade-school girls with lemonade stands to our stringent codes, we can't rightly overlook this guy, can we?" The mayor could not be reached for comment.

  • All that gold isn't going to do him much good when the creepers, skeletons and zombies come around. If he can't find some wood, coal, and cobblestone, he's in for a long, dark night hiding in some dirt hole in Central Park.
  • That's the Diamond district where there are lots of sweat shops. My father worked for several large jewelry firms as a diamond setter. The back rooms where the artisans worked wasn't air conditioned during the summer and the large windows were left open (they were the awning type that opened with small slats so you couldn't really jump or fall out of an open window). Many of the work benches were right up against the window, and I could believe that some small stuff would fall to the street now and then.

  • I actually read the article and it made no mention of Raffi earning almost 1000.00 per week. Slashdot can be a wee bit prone to embellishment. Raffi probably got lucky when he made 819.00 in 6 days but this, by no means, implies that this is a regular amount of revenue. Although, I give the guy credit for ingenuity.
  • or did we get rid of the "news for nerds, stuff that matters" part?

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