Robin Quinn is an author and radio producer based in South-East England. His new book, The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo explores the life of Charles Deville Wells, fraudster and gambler, and spans the second half of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. Published 2016 by The History Press Ltd.
THE MAN WHO BROKE THE BANK AT MONTE CARLO
The incredible true story of Charles Deville Wells, gambler and fraudster extraordinaire.
Charles Wells has two loves in his life: a beautiful, headstrong, French mistress, Jeannette, and his sumptuous yacht, the Palais Royal. At the risk of losing them both, Wells stakes everything he owns at the roulette tables in Monte Carlo’s world-famous Casino – and in the space of a few days he breaks the bank, not once but ten times, winning the equivalent of millions in today’s money.
Is he phenomenally lucky? Has he really invented an “infallible” gambling system, as he claims? Or is he just an exceptionally clever fraudster?
Based on painstaking research on both sides of the Channel and beyond, this biography reveals the incredible true story of the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo – an individual who went on to become Europe’s most wanted criminal, hunted by British and French police, and known in the press as “Monte Carlo Wells – the man with 36 aliases”.
HITLER'S LAST ARMY
After the Second World War 400,000 German servicemen were imprisoned on British soil – some remaining until 1948. These defeated men in their tattered uniforms were, in every sense, Hitler's Last Army.
Reviews of Hitler's Last Army
“Probably the best book on the subject in the last 20 years”
“I recommend this book as a must to read.”
[★★★★★ Amazon review by “a German ex-POW”]
“Well written, interesting, informative, and heart-warming in equal measure … I would recommend this even to those not especially interested in WW2, as a fascinating slice of Anglo-German social history of 70 years ago. Buy it."
[★★★★★ Amazon review by J.B.]
Blog: All Posts
- The Argus (Brighton) June 22, 2016
My article on Charles Deville Wells – The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo – was published in The Argus (Brighton) on 11 June. http://www.theargus.co.uk/
Here are a couple of extracts from the piece:
It was in July 1891 that Wells went to the casino at Monte Carlo – the only place in Europe where gambling was legally permitted at the time. He arrived at mid-day and started to gamble at the roulette table. And in the course of eleven hours he broke the bank – not just once but several times in a row. And then, on subsequent days, he did exactly the same again. In less than a week he had won £40,000, worth £4 million in today’s terms.
Even now, 125 years later, no-one is quite sure how he achieved this seemingly-impossible feat. Some claim that, as an engineer, he could have discovered a slight mechanical imperfection in one of the roulette wheels, enabling him to predict which numbers to bet on. Other observers speculate that, as a fraudster, he had probably devised a way to swindle the casino. Wells himself dismissed these accusations, claiming that he had invented an infallible system of gambling which involved watching for recurring sequences of numbers before placing his bets. To me, though, none of these explanations seemed convincing, and I set out to solve the mystery. After studying all the available evidence, I was finally able to offer a plausible explanation based on the known facts, and I’ve set out my findings in a new book, The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo.
Legend has it that, after his Monte Carlo triumph, Wells and his French mistress were regular guests at the London and Paris Hotel in Newhaven, stopping there en route between Britain and France. They were in the habit of holding riotous parties which went on until the early hours of the morning and kept the other visitors awake. When the hotel management asked Wells to take his custom elsewhere, he rented a nearby house in Fort Road … where the festivities continued uninterrupted.
- Further investigations … June 20, 2016
Most of the research for The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo took place in the summer of 2014, when I visited Paris, Marseille, Nice and Monte Carlo to follow in the footsteps of the man himself – Charles Deville Wells. I followed up almost a year later with a second trip, this time to Le Havre, where Wells arrived in 1892 on his huge yacht, the Palais Royal.
It was while he was here, in company with his beautiful French mistress, that he was arrested by French police – a story that’s related in full within the pages of the book.
Today the Quai de la Seine is one of the smaller docks and appears to be virtually unused – or perhaps it was just a quiet day when I visited. The larger vessels using the port now use the more extensive facilities elsewhere, but this was probably a place of some considerable importance in the 1890s when Wells was here. The Palais Royal, almost 300 feet long, was one of the largest pleasure craft in the world at that time, and would have occupied half the length of the basin.
While on the same trip I spotted a boat used for river cruises which was just slightly larger than the Palais Royal. It gives some impression of the scale of Wells’ yacht.
- The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo June 10, 2016
At last! The Blog is back in operation. Or to be more precise, it’s the writer who is back in operation after a very busy few months!
A tight deadline to hand over my new book, The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo, means that I have been unable to keep the blog updated for a regrettably long time. Finally, though, I completed the last corrections earlier this week and placed everything in the capable hands of my publisher, The History Press . The book is now scheduled for release in August, and as soon as I have the precise date I will post it here.
- Five-Star Rating June 25, 2015
Six readers have now given Five-Star Reviews on Amazon to Hitler’s Last Army ! My sincere thanks to you all – glad you enjoyed the book!
- Countdown to VE-Day May 8, 2015
In the diary he kept during his time as a soldier in the German army and as a prisoner of war in Britain, Eberhard Wendler wrote the following in the period up to and including VE-Day.
22 April 1945: We had a film show in the dining hall – a film about Friedrich Schiller*.[*NOTE: for the British authorities, finding suitable films to show to the German prisoners was a constant problem, as the German cinema industry had been controlled by the Nazi propaganda ministry for the duration of the war. Films with cultural themes – such as this one about the German poet, philosopher and playwright Friedrich Schiller were among the few which were considered appropriate – RQ].
24 April 1945: My birthday. At midnight I was woken by three comrades – Koch, Böhme and Kuse – and they congratulated me. They had prepared a beautiful display of flowers on a little table, together with the picture of my family home that I’d had painted [by another prisoner]. At 16.00 hours that day we returned to the camp and were individually searched, and taken out on to the sports ground. When we went back into our hut everything had been turned upside down [by the guards].
6 May 1945: (Sunday): we had a film show. In the afternoon we had to hand in our vests and underpants, gloves and one blanket. In return we were issued with two pairs of short underpants.
7 May 1945: the war was over. On 8 May and 9 May we didn’t have to work.[Eberhard’s account of the war ending is exceedingly brief. Perhaps it was difficult to express his thoughts in words at the time. Recently he told me: ‘When the war was over, we thanked God that it was finished and we were happy to be alive, but we wondered what was going to happen now. Germany had lost and they could do whatever they liked with us. And we thought they’d take it out on us.’]
TO BE CONTINUED …