Spare Change

Here’s the clean winner for last week’s most interesting restaurant story:Suitcase containing $1 million left in pizza restaurant

A young Asian man entered a pizza restaurant in Sydney, Australia, carrying a satchel and acting nervous. He ordered a coffee. After several minutes (and an encounter with another patron, according to some accounts), the man got “spooked” and exited the restaurant, leaving the satchel behind. Concerned that the bag might contain a bomb, the owners called police. When they  arrived and opened the bag, they found $1 million in Australian fifty-dollar notes (about $1.3 million U.S.).

Various deductive geniuses immediately concluded that the money was linked to organized crime, but the conclusions here are unclear. Criminals involved in money laundering might open a pizza joint, but they generally don’t leave bags of cash in one (to be successfully laundered, after all, the money has to come back to you). On the other hand, it might well be a ransom ($1 million seems like a nice, round figure), but certainly a sloppily executed drop.

Here are some alternative theories of the situation not yet explored by the media:

1. The man was thrilled by the service and left a $1 million tip (clearly, he belongs to the Mark Cuban school of gratuity dispersement).

2. Since the man is Asian, we can reasonably assume that he was coming home from a wine auction in Hong Kong. The $1 million was simply spare change left over after purchasing numerous cases of 1961 and 1982 Lafite—a trifling sum, not worth the effort to lug across town.

3. The man had planned a massive bank heist nearby, and left the $1 million as a decoy. While the police were puzzling over the meaning of it, he was plundering a central depository across the street.

4. The man is a billionaire, consumed with the Warren Buffet Guilt Syndrome over not paying a sufficient amount of income tax. The $1 million was a down payment designed to put him on a level playing field with his secretary.

The police say they have someone in custody. Since none of the above theories have a deep and satisfying ring to them, we’ll wait for the official explanation and keep you posted. Wasting money may be a sin, but giving it away is apparently a crime.


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