a character in the best French tradition

Georges Rème was a notorious and popular French swindler.

“Swindle” epad found here

“His fiction-like feats of escape have earned him the nickname “The Human Eel“. In August 1926, he was taken to a Paris court with ten others but was not handcuffed. When the warder’s attention was distracted, Rème, drawing from his pockets some legal documents which he had picked up, calmly walked out. When challenged by the guard, he waved the papers, replying “Detective Inspector” and passed on. Hailing a taxi, he disappeared.

Moray Eel found here

He was recaptured in 1927 and sentenced to ten years in a Lyonnais prison and ten in exile.

“He said to his advocate, “I doubt if I stay in prison at all. The climate of Lyons does not agree with me. I fancy that my sentence of ten years is an idle theory on the part of the bench.”

Liz Lyons found here

His advocate, in defending him (Rème has already been convicted seventeen times for theft) argued in part that his client was “a character in the best French tradition, on account of his elegance, his imagination and wit. In certain circumstances a man such as Rème has to be invented if he doesn’t exist, because in sad periods he is one of those who help to amuse the masses and distract them from the preoccupations of their mind.”

Preoccupied French citizens found here

Of all the criminals of recent years, only the murderer Landru was more popular at distracting the preoccupied masses, a dozen or more of whom (female) he had previously amused to death in his country retreat.

French murderer Landru found here

The hotel servant girl who found the Condé rose diamond Rème had stolen by biting into its hiding place in an apple belonging to one of the hotel’s guests – was promptly sacked for her dishonesty by the management.

Rose diamonds found here