Fact Check: WTC Developer Larry Silverstein Did NOT Get '$1 Trillion' Insurance Payout From Baltimore Bridge

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: WTC Developer Larry Silverstein Did NOT Get '$1 Trillion' Insurance Payout From Baltimore Bridge Made-Up Story

Did World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein get a "$1 trillion" insurance payout resulting from the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore? No, that's not true: The claim cited an amount of money no individual in the world is known to possess. The claim did not supply, nor could Lead Stories find, evidence supporting the claim that he owns or is in any position to collect on an insurance policy covering the collapsed bridge. A representative of Silverstein's company refuted the claim in an email exchange with a Lead Stories reporter.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on Instagram on April 2, 2024. The first slide opened:


The second slide continued:



Larry Silverstein cashes in on $1 trillion
insurance policy on Baltimore Bridge.
This is what the post looked like on Instagram at the time of writing:
Screen Shot 2024-04-03 at 2.22.32 PM.png
(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Wed Apr 3 18:22:32 2024 UTC)

Contrary to the claim, Silverstein (archived here), now in his 90s, is known as a real estate developer of residential and office properties in New York City, not as someone who made his name in the business of transportation or the maritime industry. His company's history (archived here) does not mention any projects in Baltimore.

A search for the key phrases "Larry Silverstein" and "Baltimore Bridge" (archived here) across Google News, did not show a single result from 2024, when in March of that year the bridge collapsed due to a collision with the Dali cargo vessel. Furthermore, it did not produce any relevant news coverage confirming that he ever had business interests in that geographical area.

Lead Stories contacted Silverstein Properties. The company's representative Dara McQuillan said via email on April 3, 2024:

That is not at all true. Mr. Silverstein had nothing whatsoever to do with the Baltimore bridge. And insurance companies don't pay out "$1 trillion" to anyone. For anything. Ever.

While the total cost of insurance claims associated with the Francis Scott Key Bridge crash (archived here) that occurred in the early hours of March 26, 2024, could be high, it is not anywhere close to $1 trillion. For example, analysts at Barclays interviewed by CNN (archived here) capped the overall maximum amount at $3 billion.

The same CNN report pointed out that the process of sorting out all claims is likely to take years, given the complexities of maritime laws and the fact that many involved parties are based in different countries.

Furthermore, not a single person in the world has such an astronomical amount of money as $1 trillion.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index (archived here), the net worth of Bernard Arnault -- the richest person on Earth, as of April 2, 2024, when the claim was published on Instagram -- was estimated at $228 billion. Jeff Bezos, with a respective $203 billion, occupied the second line in the rating on that day.

Had someone generated $1 trillion overnight, that would have drawn a lot of media attention. But a search for the key terms "Larry Silverstein" and "$1 trillion" across websites indexed by Google News produced zero results (archived here).

The post on Instagram that is the focus of this fact check reused an entry from X (archived here) that was published on March 28, 2024. Neither of them cited any sources of the purported "news."

Even the photo of Silverstein wasn't new. According to the TinEye reverse image search tool (archived here), it was first published by Forbes in 2018:

Screen Shot 2024-04-03 at 2.34.56 PM.png

(Source: TinEye screenshot taken on Wed Apr 3 18:34:56 2024 UTC)

The claim on Instagram referred to an old conspiratorial narrative implying that 9/11 was an inside job. In part, it alleges that Silverstein bought an insurance policy specifically covering terrorist attacks shortly before the terror attacks. He did buy one, which eventually led to a lengthy legal battle (archived here). But as Snopes (archived here) pointed out back in 2016, insurance policies before that tragedy simply did not exclude terror attacks because, at the time, the likelihood of such events taking place in the United States was considered low. Lead Stories debunked a similar claim mentioning Silverstein here.

Lead Stories fact checks related to speculations about the Baltimore bridge collapse are here.


  • 2024-04-03T23:15:59Z 2024-04-03T23:15:59Z
    Updated to add comment from a representative of Larry Silverstein.

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