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Author Topic: 'The man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo'. Charles Wells.  (Read 299 times)
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Weebouy
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« on: March 18, 2014, 00:13:35 AM »

Charles Wells, a Victorian gambler, confidence trickster and conman who was subject of the famous song, actually broke the Monte Carlo Casino bank many  times in his gambling career with his 'method' of betting on the tables. He won £50,000 on one night, a true fortune at the time and on another visit won a million francs!  This flamboyant character lived the high life and was notorious for his riotous parties, particularly in the London and Paris Hotel in Newhaven (now demolished) where he stayed between cross-channel jaunts on the ferries. In the 1890s he was advised that his parties in the hotel were no longer acceptable and he was asked to leave, after which he bought a house in Fort Road, Newhaven (still there) where he continued his wild lifestyle. We can only guess what his neighbours thought of this! Alas, nothing lasts and Wells served several prison sentences for fraud before dying a pauper in Paris in 1922.

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Pete
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« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2017, 20:45:47 PM »

THE MAN WHO BROKE THE BANK.
Wells Committed for Trial.
Charles Wells was again charged at Bow-street this afternoon with defrauding several persons. Miss Frances Budd, of Woolton, Liverpool, said that while living at Worthing in 1889 she answered Wells's advertisement, and had letters from him, with the result that she sent, him £30. Failing to secure a return, she contemplated a prosecution, but found prisoner was at Monte Carlo. After further similar evidence, the Magistrate committed Wells for trial, offering to accept sureties for £ 10 000

Evening Express 8/2/1893
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Craggs
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« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2017, 09:41:22 AM »

As Weebouy correctly stated, Wells was imprisoned a number of times for fraud.  The case which Pete quotes, above, was one of them. His frauds basically centred on "inventions"  into which he got banks and individuals to invest.  Non of the inventions materialised ! !

In this case Wells was committed for trial at the Old Bailey.  The trial took place on the 14/15th March 1893 before Mr Justice Hawkins. 

There are dozens of newspaper reports in the archives about the trial and verdict and no sympathy was held for Wells.  Additionally, it can be said, that little sympathy was expressed in the newspapers for the 'victims' who were seen as individuals 'trying to get rich quick'.  All of the newspaper articles say basically the same thing.  One point that many of them make is that the Jury in this case took only one minute deliberation to find Wells guilty.  In this case he got 8 years penal servitude.  Here is just one of many newspaper articles from the time.

Lincolnshire Echo - Wednesday 15 March 1893

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Pete
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« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2017, 11:45:46 AM »

He later was involved in a fraud involving a trawler company, after release from prison he moved to France and I think was jailed there  (Le havre?) Summary of his court appearances that I could find:
18/11/1892 Charged with patents scam
9/12/1892 arrested in Le havre on board his yacht Palais Royal (2000Ton, former Liverpool -La Plata packet, lavishly furnished, 12 guest cabins, ballroom, organ, grand piano). Estimated fraud £4K
10/12/1892 attempted suicide beating his head against the wall.
17/1/1892 extradited to Southampton and thence to Bow Street 24 warrants to the value of £28905 for fraudlent & false pretences.
20/1/1892 Interim Bankruptcy order posted
Trial drags on, amount now £30435  until 15/3/1892 GUILTY 8 years sentence
20/11/1905 In Tower Bridge court as William Davenport charged with conspiring to defraud through The south & South West Steam Trawling Syndicate. Assets were 2 clapped out vessels valued at £160 & £180 each and a Japanese doll in a glass dome demonstrating a newly invented method of resuscitation. He obtained mortgages of £5333 on these

I have been unable to find the outcome of this case and anything further reported in the Welsh Press.



 
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pomme homme
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« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2017, 12:05:20 PM »

..... and, of course, fewer would have heard of him (assuming, of course, that they knew the facts behind it) if not for Fred Gilbert writing the eponymous song in 1891/2, which was popularised by the music hall singer and comedian Charles Coborn. And here's another south-east link - Gilbert lived in Sandgate from 1898 until his death in 1903. Perhaps he emulated Wells to some extent in that despite the enduring popularity of his song, Gilbert was worth only £8 at the time of his death.
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Craggs
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« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2017, 14:47:31 PM »

Pete,

From the newspaper archives - The 20/11/1905 case was committed for trial at the Old Bailey, the case being heard on the 8/9th February 1906.  Charles Wells, alias Davenport, also known as "Monte Carlo Wells" (aged 54 at the time), pleaded guilty.  His co-defendant, Vyvyan Henry Moyle, who was apparently an 'unbeneficed clergyman', (aged 71 at the time) also pleaded guilty.

Vyvyan Henry Moyle also had a previous history of fraud which is revealed in the following newspaper article detailing some of the trial and the verdict and sentence.  Wells got three years penal servitude and Moyle got 18 months hard labour.

Please excuse me for not transcribing the newspaper article but it is extremely hot and I want to do a few bits on a couple of War Memorials and am a bit tired....  Noel

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Pete
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« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2017, 16:26:48 PM »

That's great, so we get up to 1908/9, wonder what he got up to then?
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pomme homme
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« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2017, 17:47:02 PM »

Ah, according to the French press he took up his trade in France with effect from 1908. Maybe things were getting a little to hot for him in the UK!

Wells was a polyglot, apparently being fluent in English, French and Italian. In 1908 he was operating in Lyon under the name Ernest Cuvillier. He established an operation called the Centenary Universal Tourist to organise world tours, which the tourist would pay for at 2 Francs per week. Yes, you've guessed it! The outcome was that in 1909 the criminal court in Lyon sentenced him to two years' imprisonment for fraud. He was released in June 1910 and departed Lyon for Paris. There his next fraud involved Chocolite, a replacement for chocolate. Seemingly that was not sufficiently remunerative and thus he embarked upon an investment scam, paying interest of 1% per day (if it looks too good to be true ..... !). When that Ponzi scheme started to unravel - although by then he seems to have made 3 000 000 Francs from it - Wells and his mistress, one Mme Péris or Paris, did a runner. At first the French police could find no trace of them but ultimately they discovered that the pair had gone back to his old stomping ground, Britain, and he was passing himself off as a director of the Excelsior Yachting Iradin Co., of 235 High Holborn, London, and was living in Falmouth. If I've understood the press report correctly, he and his mistress were installed in a 'superb villa' in Falmouth, in which town's port he kept a yacht, worth 250 000 francs, constantly on the ready in case an urgent departure to sea was required. The French authorities then made arrangements with the British authorities that resulted in Wells being arrested in the company of his mistress.

The foregoing comes from La Lanterne of 22 January 1912. A copy of the report is attached. So far I've only searched the French newspapers against the name Lucien Rivier. That has thrown up many results which I've yet to study. So these may tell me what happened after his arrest in Falmouth. However in terms of searching, the results for Lucien Rivier are only the tip of the iceberg. According to La Lanterne Wells also used the following as pseudonyms - De Ville-Wells, Monte Carls (well he would, wouldn't he), Charles Deville (why not, for a man about town), William Davenport (no honour amongst thieves then), Ernest Cuvillier, Louis Servalet (maybe it should have been Servalot), Adrien Coraly, Caroly, Bernard Beauparkette, Marc Ripensier, Jartoux, Schulmann, Léon Méjean and James Bruns. Happy searching, Pete!

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Pete
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« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2017, 19:17:44 PM »

With a CV like that he'd be a politician now  Shocked
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Weebouy
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« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2017, 19:44:59 PM »

The phrase 'Incorrigible rogue' springs to mind reading all this. Roll Eyes
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pomme homme
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« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2017, 21:34:24 PM »

It's funny, but he reminds me of an early emanation of Emil Savundra!
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