Overnight there has been a flood of viral reports that 'there was a fire at JPM's gold vault' based on a self-made video showing a barrage of fire trucks located on Broad Street between Wall Street and Exchange Place, further substantiated additionally by a @FDNY tweet around 6:30 pm on Saturday which indeed confirmed there had been a "commercial fire in a vault."
MAN ALL HANDS 15 BROAD ST, COMMERCIAL FIRE IN A VAULT,
— FDNY (@FDNY) July 20, 2013
As a reminder, it was Zero Hedge who broke the news in March about the location of JPM's vault, namely that it can be found 90 feet below street level at 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza (located over half a mile away on Liberty and William Streets). Which is relevant, because as the FDNY reports, and as the video clip below vividly confirms (with the Federal Hall National Memorial distinctly visible in the background), the fire response was focused on the area on Broad street between the New York Stock Exchange and what is now the 15 Broad Street block.
So did a sweeping fire "take place" (in broad daylight and in front of video camera armed streetwalkers) providing the fire brigade a pretext to abscond with JPM's gold on orders from above, or merely give JPM an alibi to say it's gold is "gone... all gone" or rather "burned... all burned" (leaving aside the propensity of a fire to propagate in the confined oxygen constraints to be found on top of the Manhattan bedrock and far below street level)? No. For the simple reason that 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza is over two blocks away from where the fire did take place as can be seen on the map below:
In other words, if there was a "fire" in JPM's vault, the response would have been not at 15 Broad Street, but over half a mile away at the perfectly fire-accessible Liberty Street (between the NY Fed and 1 CMP), across from the real JPM vault fire doors which can be seen in the following interactive image:
And yes: those who may suggest that any amount of gold tonnage may have been quietly moved over two blocks by the Fire Brigade have never actually carried the not-so-light-bars of gold themselves, especially not in broad daylight.
So why the confusion?
It appears the confusion stems from the Fire Brigade's designation of the fire as taking place at "JP Morgan's building" which indeed is where the Fire Brigade was located. However, it is the 23 Wall Street building, also known as the "JPMorgan building" formerly owned by JPM, and subsequently owned by Morgan Guaranty Trust Company, best known for being the site of the September 16, 1920 Wall Street bombing, when 38 people were killed and 400 injured. Ironically, as was then reported, "because the Morgan building was so well known, many assumed that the target of the assumed anarchist bombing was actually the bank itself."
For modern generations, 23 Wall Street may be better known as the (incorrect) facade of the NYSE as represented in The Dark Knight Rises.
Of course, JPM has long since moved on from its landmark location just across from the NYSE, and now can be located at its Park Avenue headquarters (with its Bear Stearns annex), and of course, at 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza.
So what is now housed in the 15 Broad/23 Wall Street block to where the FDNY was responding, if not any JPM? 23 Wall and 15 Broad Street were sold in 2003 for $100 million to Africa Israel & Boymelgreen (there is likely a far more interesting story surrounding Africa Israel and Boymelgreen here than there is about the "fire in JPM's vault"). The two buildings have become a condominium development, Downtown by Philippe Starck, named for French designer Philippe Starck, one of a growing number of residential buildings in the Financial District. Starck made the roof of 23 Wall into a garden and pool, accessible to the residents of the development.
Could there be a vault in the Downtown residential building, and could the FDNY have been responding to a fire in such a "commercial vault"? Of course: as anyone who has ventured into the skyscraper forest of New York's Financial District knows, there is an underground vault in virtually every building.
However, was this the JPMorgan gold vault? Certainly not.