Akio Kashiwagi, a renowned high-roller gambler, met a tragic end in his Tokyo home, on January 3, 1992 at the age of 54. Found dead in his kitchen, Kashiwagi had suffered multiple stab wounds, with reports suggesting the involvement of the Japanese criminal organization known as the Yakuza. Despite being one of the world’s top five gamblers, his murder remains unsolved.
Kashiwagi was known for his extravagant gambling habits, often wagering up to $10 million in a single session of baccarat, his preferred game. Beyond his high-rolling activities, Kashiwagi led a relatively normal life, working as a farmhand and later as a tour guide at Mt. Fuji. He also invested in Tokyo real estate, reportedly earning $15 million annually.
However, rumors circulated about Kashiwagi’s ties to the Yakuza, and his lavish lifestyle raised questions about the source of his wealth. In 1990, Donald J. Trump, a casino mogul in Atlantic City, encountered Kashiwagi after he won $20 million at Sir James Goldsmith’s Diamond Beach Casino in Australia. Despite warnings, Trump invited Kashiwagi to his Trump Plaza casino, hoping to boost its reputation.
During his time at Trump Plaza, Kashiwagi bet substantial amounts, playing for hours on end. After two days, he left with an estimated $6 million to $9 million of Trump’s money. Unsatisfied with the loss, Trump proposed a “freeze out” agreement, where Kashiwagi would play until he either doubled his $12 million stake or lost everything. The game lasted for 75 hours, resulting in Trump losing $15 million before finally making $10 million back.
Kashiwagi’s high-profile gambling adventures gained media attention, but his return to Japan was marred by tragedy. One year after his encounter with Trump, Kashiwagi’s life took a dark turn. Speculation arose that his association with the Yakuza and his substantial debts to Trump Plaza may have put him in danger. However, the exact circumstances surrounding his death remain a mystery.