yet another French swindler

Alexandre Stavisky was a solemn fellow who got up promptly at nine to start swindling, whose table jokes fell flat before his ministerial guests, and who, though forced for business reasons to have mistresses, loved only his wife.

image found here

“He began his humble career in 1906 by failing as a cafe singer. In succession, during the next nine years, he failed at managing a nightclub, illicit gambling dens, a nude review, a tinned soup company, an electric ice box company, a shyster brokerage desk, and drug running. 

image found at nude review

In the 1930s he managed municipal pawnshops in Bayonne but also moved in financial circles. He sold lots of worthless bonds and financed his “hockshop” on the surety of what he called the emeralds of the late Empress of Germany — which later turned out to be glass.

Empress of Emeralds found here

In 1927, Stavisky was put on trial for fraud for the first time. However, the trial was postponed again and again and he was granted bail 19 times. He probably continued his scams during this time. One judge who claimed to hold secret documents was later found decapitated.

image found here

Faced with exposure in December 1933, Stavisky fled. On 8 January 1934, the police found him in a Chamonix chalet agonizing from a gun wound. Officially Stavisky committed suicide but there was a persistent speculation that police killed him.

image found here

Fourteen Parisian newspapers called it suicide and eight did not. The distance the bullet had traveled led Le Canard enchaîné to propose the tongue-in-cheek theory that he had “a long arm”.

The scandal brought in a remarkable range of personalities from politics, high society and the literary-intellectual elite of Paris. Mistinguett was asked why she had been photographed with Stavisky at a nightclub; Georges Simenon reported on the unfolding affair and Stavisky’s ex-bodyguard threatened him with physical violence; Colette, referring to the inability of any of Stavisky’s high-placed friends to remember him, described the dead con artist as “a man with no face”

Colette found here

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33 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Failing as a cafe singer could happen to anyone: trying to be heard over the sound of Sydney’s milk steamers and chattering baristas with their constant banging and clanging would put me off my arpeggios.

    • Do you sing Mitzi? I can’t 😦

      • I can’t either, but it’s never stopped me. (My birthday is on the 8th of January.)

  2. Ya gotta give him one thing – he kept trying! And trying, and trying……
    He must have had a real anti-Midas touch – anything he touched turned to lead.
    And THANK YOU for that second picture. If that was an example of the nude review, how the heck did the pinhead fail? 😀

    • It’s a lovely image isn’t it?

  3. “…forced, for business reasons, to have mistresses…”
    Love it! 🙂

    Georges Simenon? The creator of “Maigret”? Now, there was a fellow with a high opinion of himself! Worthy of some Nursey investigation.

    • He had a complicated love life didn’t he?

  4. I’ve read this twice and I’m left somewhat nonplussed by the granting of bail 19 (!) times and the decapitated judge – never mind the killing/suicide debate…

    • I don’t know, I’ve had a few judges who would’ve been far more effective decapitated……

  5. I was thinking with some judges who would know the difference if their heads were cut off

  6. with all of those early career failures? he was STILL more successful than our last president, the illustrious George W. Bush…

    • Better than Dubya? God grief!

  7. “Forced for business reasons to have mistresses…”

    HA! Ahh, the good old days.

  8. Damn !!!

    have pored over my job description and can’t find any mention of mistresses 😦

  9. I hope the judge wasn’t actually decapitated naked.

  10. Sounds like the “long arm” of the law to me.

  11. At least I now know for sure the link between tinned soup and drug running. Before, I just had my suspicions …

  12. It takes a supreme lack of talent to have both a failed gambling den AND nude review. There’s always money to be made from vice.

    I find that pic of Colette to be extraordinarily exotic. Sometimes, full nudity peels away the mystery too much.

  13. Being unrecognizable in his business was probably a great benefit.

  14. I’m still trying to figure out what kind of business forces one to have mistresses in spite of loving only your wife…

    • Convincing his wife and the rest of the world of that might have been his most successful con.

  15. I began my humble career by failing as a bookshop assistant – I have had plenty of practice since then!

  16. I think I prefer your “French Tickler” posts to your “French Swindler” ones. hahah

  17. Your links always take me off on tangents. Le Canard enchaîné – The Chained Duck – what a great name for a satirical magazine, and they’re still in business today.

  18. The beautiful Colette! There is nothing more to say.

  19. He seemed to fail at everything, but it sure didn’t stop him from trying!

  20. For some strange reason, I totally love the picture you labelled as nude review.

  21. Well I could have gone without reading the headless guy’s link.

    • Me too! Whoa! The picture is interesting but those lyrics are truly horrifying.

  22. I think you made a spelling mistake. The correct one is S-A-R-K-O-Z-Y

  23. I’ve always known you weren’t a real nurse…and doubted you were actually, a female… Now I think I know your real identity …at least between two possibilities… based on your Frenchman disdain…you are either…Dominique Strauss-Kauns, Guinean maid …or, you are Gordon Ramsay incognito …
    Hey did I tell you about the old lady I followed out of the Church parking lot after last Sundays service? She had a huge..HONK if you LOVE JESUS bumper sticker on the back of her car…so at the next light, I HONKED…
    She turned in her seat faster than Cato.. AND SHOT ME THE BIRD!!!
    She probably thought I was a Frenchman…
    Heh, Bless You

  24. I know you are but…what am I?

  25. Ha, “long arm”

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