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A HUGE COUP., NZ Truth, Issue 254, 7 May 1910
A HUGE COUP.
Further Details of the Bogus Vanderbilt's Remarkable Deal With a Prince. Bills for £325,000. How Franz Josef of Braganza Fell i Into Lackensteen's Trap. Below are published further details of how Lackensteen, an adventurer, who posed as one of the New York Vandcrbilts, induced Prince Franz Josef of Braganza to part with bills to the face value of £.325,000, as recently tolitl m these columns. There are few pleasanter places m Europe than. Vienna m any , circumstances. And when you have got a few hundreds to spare, money which you fcei no hesitation m spending on your personal gratification, then it is truly a delightful city to be m. Lackensteen fully appreciated its charms. Since he had loft Monte Carlo after receiving an assurance that lie would be able to secure an introduction to Prince Franz Josef of Braganza, things had gone on swimmingly. He had spent a fortnight m Paris and another couple of weeks m London, maturing his plans, and then had come straight to Vienna. The introduction to the Prince had been accompanied without a hitch, and still .better, from his point of view, the young man had shown himself keenly impressed with Laclcensteen's astuteness as a financier. Not that he was aware, of course, that his interesting friend from the United States was really ' Known as ■ Laclfenfstcen. To him he. was always Van-dcrbilt, ot the famous family of millionaires. llie Prince, m fact, daily congratulated himself on the strode of fortune that had brought turn
iSDfco. contact, |ana& wtem Ms ownt tiiraimriaV resources weie set a Tgsy low e&b # witti 109 D& of tlsos& WKSMkaifal Anaeocafos "whoseems* to troa into gohf cyeryttoag; they*. In foil cujoyioafit of the PxJEC&'s pat--xossge, VaraJeirhirt, otherwise Lackenstoesjx, became one of the social lions of; ths hour m Veiraa. He entertained^ loyally at disuser parties at tbe best', bouses, and at sniper patties at the; smartest restaurants. He returned thecompliment m regal fashion. His gaestsvoted him an ideal' host, and the Prince' was bo deligfaeed with the popularity ol bis sew friend taat lie toasted him with, more glasses tfcan -were calculated to induce clearness oi vision er of brain. Lackennsteen noticed this tendency to excess, with ill-concealed ■ satisfaction, 'tfxs next day had been fixed for concluding the business arrangements with the Prince which, as the young man fondly imagined, would make him the richer By several hundred thousand pounds. Ami Lackco- ; steen, being no mean student of human I nature, was well aware tltat tbe .more his ■ dupe drank that nigbt the easier it would j be next day to obtain his signature to the docuntents which at that moment were safely stowed away m his port-1 manteau. The banquet given by Lackcnstecn. \ marked the culmination of his plans fora enmeshing toe Prince m his cleverly-spun i web. He had found the ta£k of winning his confidence simpler than he antici-.* pated. liver since, some montfas earlier, a confederate who had been m Vienna had suggested thai, Prince Franz Josef.was a person who possibly might be exploited to advantage, he had been carefully preparing a scheme for profiting by tbe op- < portunity offered. Tbe Count he had met at Monte Carlo fell into the trap witfeout, a moment's suspicion, and when Lac^eastcen arrived m Vi^Bßa gave him an enthusiastic welcome. Anything, he could do to.please the great Mr"Vanderbilt" from New York he did .with the utmost readi- ; ness. Mr "Vanderbilt" dropped a casual hint that he wooM like to meet ■• Prince"! Franz Josef of Braganza.-The -wish had ] only to be expressed to be gratified, and j a couple of days later the supposed ' American / millionaire obtained the desired introduction. IJuriiig the following | fortnight he met the Prince, almost daily. The 3atter was charmed with his new j acquaintance, and listened eagerly to his occasional references to his huge financial interests. For the Prince began to foresee possibilities of adding' to'his income through his association with Mr "Vanderbilt." It was a very welcome prospect, since his relatives had found it necessary to place his affairs m "curatcl"—a form of trusteeship—and'limit his allowance, to &20U0. To a young man- of Franz Josef's habits and position this had not proved an adequate sum by auy means. At the time, of his introduction to "Vanderbilt" money was his crying need.. • . Lackensteen purposely refrained from showing any desire to discuss v financial matters with his dupe. He had quicKly learned how the young man's "affairs stood, and with characteristic shrewdness was content to wait for the overtures to come from the other side. His judgment was not at fault. By the end of the first fortnight of their acquaintance the Prince had broached the subject. Lackensteen was diffident almost—but hot quite—to the point of refusal. He gave the Prince a little homily on the inadvisability of running any risk of, burning his fingers. But the Prince was insistent, and. Lackensteen chuckled to himself. His plans were working admirably. After reiterating his opinion that it \y-ould,'be wiser for the Prince not to join m aiiy financial yen* ture, he finally consented, with an elaborate show of reluctance,' to think the matter over and. see if there was any way he could assist the Prince. It was thus that the. Prince unconsciously precipitated himself into the trap which had been set for him.; At their next meeting "Vanderbilt" confided to him that he had!, evolved a scheme w,hereby both of them might - reap substantial profit. In fact the deal was quite likely to . yield e&ch a fortune of several hundred thousand pounds. It was an alluring prospect, m all conscience and the Prince, m his; infatuated belief' m the magic powers of the> reputed millionaire, conjured up visions of. a future untrammelled with' financial difficulties Outlining m appropriately impressive language his great scheme, ;'Vanderbilt" explained that he had recently acquired on terms extraordinarily favorable to himself a large quantity of superb emeralds. He had decided,' chiefly as a mark ol appreciation of his gracious treatment at the hands of the Prince, to let the latter purchase the. stones at a price which would enable him to resell them at an enormous profit. The Prince was delighted, and effusive m his than'.s. Itwas arranged that he should give !'Vanderhilt" bills m payment. The transaction was to be . concluded next day. That night they met at the banquet. In the morning Lacken'steen waited the arrival of the Prince with a* deep feeJing of satisfaction. But, ..at the appointed hour, instead of the Prince, au emissary came with, a 'message to' say that he had received an urgent summons to go at once to' Cas'tTe' Seebenstein, the country seat of h'ia father, the D,uke of Braganza. liackensteeii swore savagely under liis breath, but outwardly merely expressed anxiety that no serious illness at home was responsible for the Priaee's sudden departure for Vienna. He'waa told that it was understood to be mereJy a matter of family business. The explanation was scarcely a reassuring one from Lackenstein's point of view. Had someone given him away ? He had seea no indication that anyone suspected his identity or dreamed that he was not m reality Mr Fred Vanderbilt of New Yorir. Lackensteen spent a very uncomfortable day. Next morning he received a letter. The envelope was addressed m the Prince's handwriting. He tore it open .with nervous, trembling fingers. As he hastily read 'the letter Lackeasteen's expression was eloquent of the way m which his feelings were relieved by its contents. The Prince wrote that, he was inexpressibly annoyed at having been prevented from keeping his appointment. More exasperating still, he had to proceed to Berlin at the earliest possible moment. He feared it was too much to expect Mr Vanderbilt Juo arrange to meet him there m order that there shQuld be as little delay as possible m fixing up their business. It would not have troubled Lackensteen if he had' been required to go'half svay round the' world. A week later he met the Prince m Berlin. The delay had enabled, him to formulate a further scheme to obtain money from his dupe He induced the Prince to take, m addition to the emeralds, shares m a group' of companies m which he professed to have a controlling interest. Lackensteen.' lelt Berlin for London two days later with a bunch of bills m his possession^. which the Prince had accepted for the huge amount of £325,000.
A HUGE COUP., NZ Truth, Issue 254, 7 May 1910
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