THE MAN WHO BROKE THE BANK AT MONTE CARLO
About the book
Essential reading for lovers of Victorian true-crime stories. The book takes readers on a roller-coaster ride through Britain, France and Monaco in the company of one of the greatest swindlers of the era as he pulls off one breath-taking coup after another. His amazing win at Monte Carlo is just one of many highlights in this true story, which reaches a climax when Wells is pursued across Europe in one of the biggest man-hunts of all time.
FACTFILE: Charles Deville Wells aka ‘Monte Carlo Wells’ aka ‘The Man Who Broke The Bank At Monte Carlo’
Blog: The Man Who Broke The Bank
- Sunday Express – read all about it! August 15, 2016
I was delighted to read an article about Charles Deville Wells – based on my book – in yesterday’s Sunday Express. If you missed it, you can read all about it… here.
- Newstalk FM (Ireland) August 10, 2016
News of the book is getting around now! Earlier this afternoon I spent an enjoyable 15 minutes being interviewed by Sean Moncrieff of Newstalk FM. He was particularly keen to hear about one of Charles Deville Wells’ victims — a young Irish aristocrat, the Hon. William Cosby Trench, of Castle Oliver, Co. Limerick.
Trench was persuaded by Wells to invest in an invention which was supposed to economise on coal in steam engines. Trench invested the equivalent of £1 million, and never received a penny of it back. A judge told him that he was still a young man and it would be best if he were to grow wiser as well as older. He seems to have followed this advice and later in life he became High Sheriff of County Limerick.
- The value of money August 10, 2016
Last week’s Daily Mail article, based on my book, The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo, appeared under the heading,
REVEALED: THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY BEHIND THE BRITON WHO BROKE THE BANK AT MONTE CARLO WITH HIS RELENTLESS CASINO WINNING STREAK.
It continues by saying that with an initial stake of £4,000 he won £40,000 — equivalent to £4 million in today’s money. A reader in Harrogate questioned this, saying: “So he actually only won £40,000. Another misleading DM headline!!!”
It looks as if a brief explanation might be called for here! Where sums of money are mentioned in the book, I give the actual sum (such as £40,000) followed by the same sum with an extra two zeros (in this case £4,000,000). This gives a rough modern-day equivalent based on the Retail Price Index, which reflects changes in the costs of everyday goods over time.
But it is not quite as simple as that! While a basket of shopping has only gone up about 100 times, wages and salaries are about 440 times what they were in 1891. On this scale, Wells’ winnings would be closer to £17.5 million. And when Wells returned to London with his winnings, he could have chosen to invest the money in property. With a typical house selling in those days for £300, he might have purchased about 130 properties. Assuming an average house price today of around £280,000, to buy the same estate would now need over £36 million.
So, to answer the Harrogate reader’s question, it can’t be said that the Daily Mail has exaggerated Wells’ winnings: in fact, depending which formula you use, the rule of “Victorian value times 100” generally errs on the low side.
The relative value of various sums of money over time is explained better, and in more depth than I can achieve here, at measuringworth.com.
- Word is getting around … ! August 8, 2016
- Keeping track of a bank-breaker August 6, 2016
I found it a little difficult to keep track of Charles Wells’ activities, as so much happened between his arrival in Britain from France in about 1883, and the period just after his epic bank-breaking adventures. Just over a year ago, when I was making the transition from the research phase to actually writing the book, I made the wall chart (pictured). It drew a number of threads together, and made it much easier to see at a glance what was happening to Charles Wells, and the other important people in his story.
In addition I compiled an overall timeline covering his whole life. It started off as an A4 sheet of paper with a few lines on it, and ended up as a file with over 200 pages and around 700 separate entries. From this the first draft of the biography of Charles Wells was put together.