"Sopranos" creator David Chase, whose original family name was DeCesare, once said in an interview with City Journal that when he was a child, his family would visit relatives in Newark with a cousin "with fuzzy connections to a prominent mob family in Livingston." And that stuck with him.

Years later, Chase admitted that the Tony Soprano character in "The Sopranos" was actually modeled after this real-life mob family: The Boiardos.

Richie “The Boot” Boiardo was one of the most powerful mobsters of the 20th century, eventually becoming one of the highest-ranking capos in the Genovese crime family. He worked in the beer trade during prohibition, before changing to running numbers after prohibition was repealed.

He remained an active boss until the day he died at the age of 93.

His ornate yet strange Livingston mansion was featured in Life magazine, way back when. It is located at 328 Beaufort Avenue in Livingston.

A long, kind of creepy driveway was once lined with weird statuary likenesses of his entire family with weird busts of each one on a post a statue of Richie himself sitting on a horse.

Some claimed the home had a private crematorium in the back where it is alleged that he dealt with his "problems."

Today we see a sprawling estate.


And it is stunning. A Google Earth view shows that it has a Mediterranean-style red terra-cotta roof, as do the surrounding villas. You can see that it is a setting from a bygone era.

Google Maps
Google Maps

At one time, it is said that Boiardo spent his time puttering about in a vegetable patch that he himself marked with the sign “Godfather's Garden.”

Today, the home belongs to Dr. Richard Boiardo, an orthopedic surgeon from nearby West Orange. But nobody is clear about his exact relation to the original. A son, perhaps?

We do know that the five-bedroom, seven-bath home has 8000 square feet and, at least from the limited pictures we can find, looks like a perfect place for a mobster to retreat to the suburbs when necessary.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco only.

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