Famous real estate deals abound — the sale of Manhattan for beads, the Louisiana Purchase, Seward’s Folly. One of the more unusual is the April 18, 1968, sale of London Bridge for a mere $1 million (of course, as any schoolchild knows, the thing was falling down). American oil magnate Robert McCullough was the buyer and he bought it as a large conversation piece for his Arizona real estate development in an out-of-the-way spot that had previously only been an inspiration for Roadrunner cartoons. The bridge was disassembled in London, each piece numbered, then hauled to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, where it was reassembled.
McCullough had wanted to buy the Brooklyn Bridge for his project, but it had already been sold. Many times, actually. One George Parker had made his living selling the bridge to oil magnates and other naive visitors to New York, some of whom actually tried to erect toll booths.
The relocation of London Bridge inspired, in addition to a great deal of laughter, a forgettable 1985 made-for-television movie Bridge Across Time (aka Arizona Ripper or Terror at London Bridge) in which several murders are committed in Lake Havasu by the spirit of Jack the Ripper, whose soul is transported to the United States in one of the stones of the bridge (sorry you missed it, aren’t you).
Although the Sphinx may have been more architecturally appropriate to the location, McCullough wasn’t interested. “Something about the nose,” he said.