It Happened on
February 13, 1915
The South Bend Tribune (South Bend, Indiana) • 13 Feb 1915, Sat
German Banker Initiates Lawsuit, Seeking $197,421 Advance from Princess
PLAINTIFF HELD AS SPY
War and Failure of Woman to Return to Europe Are Blamed for Litigation in New York.
NEW YORK, Feb. 13 – Princess Vilma Lwoff-Parlaghy, the Hungarian portrait painter, currently residing at the Hotel St. Regis, is facing a lawsuit in the supreme court. The plaintiff, Carlo Wedekind, a German banker, accuses the princess of failing to repay $197,421 that was advanced to her over the past seven years. Wedekind, who is currently detained in a French camp as a German spy, conducted business in Nice, France. The complaint, filed by O’Brien, Boardman & Platt on behalf of their Paris correspondent, states that after reviewing the accounts on June 20, 1913, it was discovered that the princess owed a balance of $137,421, which she allegedly promised to repay but failed to do so.
Unable to Communicate
A statement was made on behalf of the princess yesterday by her attorney, Richard E. Weldon, who said she believed the lawsuit would not have been initiated against her if it weren’t for Mr. Wedekind’s arrest, which made communication impossible. The princess first met Wedekind after leaving Berlin, where she achieved great success as an artist, having painted the Kaiser seven times, Bismarck three times, and completed work for many other distinguished individuals. She decided to relocate her studio to France and settled in Nice, where her brother practiced as a renowned physician.
In Nice, the princess met Wedekind, who happened to be her brother’s closest friend. She rented a villa and purchased a chateau in St. Jean, situated between Nice and Cannes. Recognizing the need for a business representative to manage her affairs, the princess accepted Wedekind’s suggestion that he act on her behalf. She granted him power of attorney over all her European properties, including valuable securities and the contents of her two villas, which are filled with art objects and paintings, some of significant worth.
Objected to Her Coming
Mr. Weldon stated that when the princess initially proposed coming to America five years ago, Mr. Wedekind objected, believing that she would achieve greater success abroad. Despite the objection, she proceeded with her plans, occasionally returning to her home country. Mr. Wedekind expected the princess to return to Nice last summer and was disappointed when she didn’t.
Before they could establish a clear understanding regarding the princess’s business affairs, the war broke out, and Wedekind was arrested. Allegedly, Wedekind’s arrest was related to his involvement in selling turbine engines to both the French and German navies. The French authorities suspected him of possessing secrets about their warships that could be used by the Germans, leading to his detention as a German spy. Consequently, the princess has been unable to communicate with him.
In the forthcoming response to the lawsuit, the princess intends to deny any debt to Wedekind and will request an accounting. Mr. Weldon emphasized that the relationship between the princess and Wedekind was strictly confined to their business arrangement, with him managing her affairs.
People featured in this post:
German-Italian oil importer and banker who also acted as a patron
Her serene Highness - Prolific portraitist of notable Europeans and Americans