Basil Zaharoff: Man of Mystery

Basil Zaharoff: arsonist, bigamist, arms dealer, honorary knight of the British Empire, confidant of kings, and all-round international man of mystery.

If an Illuminati exists, then Basil Zaharoff was surely part of it, and if he wasn’t, he should have been. In the course of his long life (1849-1936), he garnered some 300 honours from thirty-one nations including two British knighthoods. But how many of those who bestowed the honours, or who despised him, really knew him?

Best known as a premier arms merchant, and for decades a key figure in the Vickers cartel, he was many things to many people. To his detractors Zaharoff was the “Merchant of Death,” whose “monument is the graves of millions; his epitaph their dying groans.”1 To his friends and accomplices, who dubbed him “Zedzed” (ZZ), he was a veritable wizard. A British ambassador to Paris, Lord Bertie of Thame, boasted of his “great personal regard” for Zaharoff, his “very just… though hard” character, his immense wealth, and the fact that he was said to have “many of the leading French politicians in his pocket.”2 On the other hand, the Infanta Eulalia of Spain proclaimed him a manifestation of sinister “occult forces” dominating Europe.3

French muckraker Roger Mennevee saw him as part of an “international oligarchy,” while his compatriot Jacques Bonzon believed Zaharoff to be an insidious agent of British imperialism. Another Frenchman, Rene Guenon, suspected Zaharoff of being nothing less than a secret master of the “counter-initiation,” while Church of Satan founder Anton Sandor LaVey praised him as an embodiment of Satanic virtue.4 Still others dismissed Zaharoff as a “mountebank who indulged in self-mystification and encouraged fabulous rumours.”5

Fabulous or not, Zaharoff’s reputation has left its mark on popular culture. He crops up as an influence in two of Orson Welles’ creations, Citizen Kane, and the lesser known Mr. Arkadin.6 Tintin creator Herge (Georges Remi) thinly disguised Zaharoff as – what else? – an unscrupulous arms dealer named Bazil Bazaroff and Ezra Pound invoked him in the guise of Zenos Metevsky in two of his Cantos.7 And this author has described him as a model for Ian Fleming’s SPECTRE kingpin Ernst Stavro Blofeld.8

Zaharoff was undoubtedly most of these things, perhaps all of them. He has been the subject of several biographies over the years, all of which leave questions unanswered.9 What follows makes no attempt to survey his whole, complex career. Rather it will try to illuminate some new or lesser known facts about the “Man of Mystery” and counter some common myths and misconceptions. Most importantly, it will explore his alleged role as an agent of British imperial interests.

The Mystery of Zaharoff’s Birth Place

The basic question about Zaharoff, and one that defies a definitive answer, is just who he really was. The usual answer, because it’s the only one supported by documentation, is that he was born a Greek subject of the Ottoman Empire in the Anatolian town of Mugla, on 6 October 1849. The problem is that said documentation consisted of the statement, more than forty years after the fact, by an aged cleric who never met Zaharoff and who may have been paid for his “recollection.” The family name, probably originally Zacharias or Zachariadis, supposedly changed to the Russianised Zacharoff/Zaharoff during a brief residence in Odessa. Yet other sources insist the original name was Zarapoulos or Zaharopoulos.10 The one consistent factor is that young Zacharias Basileos and his parents were Greeks.

Zaharoff could never keep the story straight. He variously gave his birth year as 1849, 1850 or 1851, and swore at different times and places that he had been born in Mugla, or the poor Constantinople district of Tatavla, or the upscale Phanar section.11 Still other sources claimed Athens.12 He muddied the waters further by claiming a Polish father and Levantine mother, a Greek mother and Russian father, or a Romanian birth and Romanian mother. A real possibility, of course, is that even Zaharoff wasn’t sure. One biographer, Robert Neumann, summed up the situation thusly:

“[Zaharoff] did everything he could to confuse the picture. You ask for his birth certificate. Alas! A fire destroyed the church registers. You search for a document concerning him in the archives of the Vienna War Office. The folder is there, but it is empty…. You obtain permission to inspect the papers of a law case. The papers are requested, but alas! no one in the office can find them.”13

Zaharoff also had a penchant for conjuring up phony educations which included Rugby and Oxford. Rugby, in fact, was quite pleased to claim him as an alumnus even though they had no record of his attendance!14 This is evidence that with sufficient wealth and prestige, one can manufacture a past and get others to help you. Yet, as we’ll see, some sort of English education may not have been total fantasy.

There were those who denied that Zaharoff was any sort of Greek at all, and with his fair hair and light blue eyes, he did not fit the stereotypical Hellenic profile. Rather, they insisted, he was an Armenian, or Albanian, or Bulgarian or Russian. In support of the latter, besides his name, biographer Donald McCormick claims that a Tsarist secret police dossier identified our man as a Russian deserter, while yet another biographer, Guiles Davenport, trots out the improbable tale that the future Sir Basil was a disgraced Russian Orthodox bishop cum jewel thief!15

If not Greek, Zaharoff was most commonly alleged to be Jewish. This was a particularly attractive notion to anti-semites as it made perfect sense to them that anyone as rich and unscrupulous as Zaharoff just had to be a Jew.16 But there is more to the notion than that. In the early 1920s, the Soviets provided the Turks with documentation proving that Zaharoff was the scion of an Odessite Jewish family named Sahar.17 French writer Jacques Bonzon claimed much the same and even insisted there was a rabbinical certificate to prove it.18 The most insistent proponent of this idea was himself a Jew, Haim Sahar, a Russian immigrant living in Birmingham, England. In 1911, Sahar stepped forward to claim that the illustrious Mssr. Zaharoff was none other than his long-lost father, Manel Sahar, formerly of Wilkomir, Lithuania. Haim, who later changed his name to Hyman Barnett Zaharoff, had no evidence to back his claim and his purported daddy simply ignored him. It turns out, though, that a Manel Efroimovich Sahar had lived in Wilkomir and as of 1877 he was “absent.”19 That, of course, in no way proves that he and Basil Zaharoff were the same.

Zaharoff surely had secrets to hide. For the first thirty odd years of his life, the future confidante of moguls, prime ministers and kings amassed a tawdry record of theft, embezzlement, bigamy, fraud and God only knows what else. As Orson Welles’ once opined, Zaharoff was “a shabby character,” at least early on.20 Yet he always managed to skate past potential ruin and resurface, phoenix-like, with a new name in a new place. It was almost as if he had a guardian angel – or some very influential friends.

The British Connection

The most persistent thread running through Zaharoff’s career is his connection to Britain and British interests. It begins with his father. He, also named Basileios, was said to “have seen a good bit of the world. On one occasion he had even come to England as a cloth merchant.”21 By all indications, Zaharoff pere was a man of some means and education, and with commercial connections that stretched not only to England, but also to Russia.22 He also lived in interesting times. The early decades of the 19th century saw ferment among the Greeks of the Ottoman Empire and the Diaspora, culminating in the War of Independence that re-established a free Greece. A key factor in this was Masonic lodges and Freemasonry-based secret societies like the Philike Hetairia, the hidden nexus that bound together Greeks and their cause all over the world. It seems logical to suppose that Basileios Zaharoff was acquainted with this nexus and that he would have passed on such connections to his son.

The first hint of a British connection in Zaharoff’s life was when a wealthy family friend or relation, Iphestidi, offered to pay his tuition to an English school in Constantinople. However, biographer Anthony Allfrey wonders whether the school may not have been in England after all. Zaharoff once recommended to a friend that a good and affordable education could be secured for a boy in “plenty of English schools in & about London.”23 According to one of Zaharoff’s contemporaries, Stephanos Zinopoulos, “Zaharoff had even as a youth regarded Britain as the one nation which could give him the kind of career he wanted.”24 Whether in Constantinople or London, a British schooling afforded opportunity for someone to take notice of a bright, eager boy with a knack for numbers and languages. A young man like that might be useful and would be someone to watch, groom, and when necessary, protect.

The first documented presence of Basil Zaharoff, or the man who would become him, is in London in 1872. Three significant things happened over late 1872 and early 1873: he would apply to change his name, he would get married, and he would be arrested. Records show that a Z. B. Zacharoff of 41 Threadneedle St., “merchant and interpreter,” applied to change his name to Zacharoff-Gortzacoff.25 On 16 October 1872, Zacharius Basilius Gortzacoff, “General de Kieff,” wed Emily Ann Burrows, a builder’s daughter, at the All Saints’ Church in Westminster.26 The Threadneedle St. office put Zacharoff in the heart of London’s City, the epicentre of the British Empire’s financial power. Not unimpressive for a twenty-three year old Greek immigrant. But what inspired him to restyle himself a Russian officer and nobleman? Was the point to impress his bride and her family, or was there someone else in mind?

In any event, the marriage proved his undoing, since news of it reached far-off Constantinople where a certain Hephistidez (another version of the above Iphestidi), sometimes described as an “uncle,” recognised the groom as the man who had absconded with goods and money.27 Hephistidez raised a complaint which led to the culprit facing a judge in the Old Bailey. The case was duly covered in the press. A felony charge of larceny was dropped over a question of jurisdiction, but in January 1873, “Zacharia Basileus Zacharoff” pled guilty to a misdemeanour charge of “making consignment of goods entrusted to him.”28 He put up a £100 bond and was bound over for sentencing. That would never come, because he soon afterwards fled England.

He next surfaced, later that year, in Cyprus, where he was “using a British passport in the name of Z. Z. Williamson” and making a living buying and selling whatever he could.29 One can only wonder how he, a foreigner and a fugitive, managed to obtain it. Years later, Zinopoulos offered this explanation:

“In London [Zaharoff] had tried to ingratiate himself in intelligence circles, not without some success…. The trial had been a setback in one sense, but in another it had enabled him to invoke help from intelligence sources which, to some extent at least, caused him to be dealt with leniently…. Zaharoff needed a new alias; intelligence work on the British side provided it for him.”30

He simultaneously was doing a thriving real estate business as Zacharias Vasilios Zachariades.31 In 1873, Cyprus was still a possession of the Ottoman Sultan, but given its proximity to Egypt and the new Suez Canal, British interest in the island increased. By the time he departed seven years later, Cyprus was firmly under London’s control. Did Zaharoff’s acquisition of property anticipate this, or even facilitate it?

His most important associate in this period was a British “commercial merchant,” William Shaw.32 It seems fair to suppose that Shaw was more than a mere tradesman; his travels and contacts in the Near East mark him as an archetypal political and intelligence agent. Shaw had many acquaintances among the Greek expat community in Britain, so he likely knew all about the new arrival’s recent difficulties. Ignoring unsavoury stories circulating about Williamson/Zachariades, Shaw became the young Greek’s partner or, perhaps more to the point, his controller. In 1877, when Shaw stepped down as the local representative of the Swedish Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Co., Zaharoff stepped into his shoes. And thus, Sir Basil’s career as a merchant of death got its start. Not incidentally, to seal the deal with Nordenfelt, Zaharoff “let it drop that he had connections with British Intelligence.”33

According to Xavier de Hauteclocque, Zaharoff had all the necessary qualities for a good British agent; he was “young, brave, physically attractive and a polyglot.”34 Plus, he had demonstrated a “large conscience.” Hauteclocque also speculated that Z belonged to “one of the Near Eastern Freemasonic lodges.” “The British Freemasons,” he added, were “their protectors” and had “helped these lodges win independence for the Balkan states….”

Zaharoff’s Cyprus period includes a peculiar incident in which he “died.” Around 1875, an Athens newspaper described how one Zacharias Basileios Zaharoff had been shot dead while attempting to escape a local prison.35 Inquiries from Zaharoff’s family and friends led to an exhumation which determined that the body was not his but that of a Canadian seaman. Sir Basil later dismissed the episode as a dirty trick by enemies, but it seems fair to wonder if it wasn’t he who was trying to literally kill off his past. Could the corpse have been the real Zacharoff/Zachariadis born in Mugla, an identity that our man stole for his own purposes?

In 1879, Zaharoff paid a brief return visit to England where he was received as an important man of affairs by the likes of Nathaniel Rothschild and Lord Salisbury.36 Again, surprising access for a young man widely seen as a crook back in Cyprus and Athens and convicted of being one in London. This may explain why he soon moved on to greener pastures. The next place he can be fixed with any certainty is Ft. Wayne, Indiana. On 13 July 1882, the Ft. Wayne paper noted that Z. Z. Zacharoff-Williamson, “a gentleman from London, England,” had checked into a local hotel.37 Zaharoff’s five years in the USA is a story in itself, but suffice it to say that it involved speculation in land, railroads and oil along with activities that can only be characterised as those of a con man.

As in Cyprus, Zaharoff played front man buying up property and making investments for bigger, British clients. One of these was the 7th Earl of Aylesford, a close friend of the Prince of Wales.38 In New York, the Greek assumed the temporary guise of an Egyptian mystic, Zanat el-Zahan.39 But his most daring and successful imposture was that of “Count Zaharoff,” a flamboyant, fez-wearing Russian whose visiting card identified him as an officer of the imperial guard and an aide-de-camp to His Majesty the Emperor of Russia.40 He eventually landed a position as general secretary of the Mann Boudoir Car Co., a sleeping car concern catering to the lavish tastes of patrons like opera diva Adelina Patti. The story went that he was “a nobleman who had consented to accept an important executive position because of his disinclination to lead a life of idleness.”41

“Count Zaharoff” Embroiled in Scandal

For a time the bogus Count was the toast of San Francisco and Broadway, but once more, his undoing was matrimony. In August 1885, the suave Russian convinced an impressionable heiress, Jeanne Frances Billings, to be his bride. Her family was not pleased. Some digging unearthed his earlier life in London and his long-abandoned first wife. Zaharoff convinced his new spouse to flee with him to Holland where he hoped to dodge the scandal, but upon arrival in Rotterdam, he faced a swift-footed American detective and a very angry Emily Ann. The charade came crashing down, Jeanne slunk back home to file for divorce, and “Count Zacharoff” vanished. The whole tawdry tale was spread far and wide in the American press.

A detail buried in American coverage of the scandal is that Zaharoff “was generally believed to be dead by his English acquaintances.”42 A story had circulated some years earlier that he had been killed trying to escape a Persian prison! Was this a muddled version of the Athens tale, or had Zaharoff planted a fresh rumour to cover his tracks before heading to America?

However, back in May 1883, papers in the US had carried another story: Count Zaharoff, agent for the Allan Steamship Co, had been anonymously threatened with death if he did not leave Galway, Ireland, where he was recruiting factory girls for jobs in Boston. This peculiar incident may hint that Zaharoff’s comic-opera antics in the USA were more serious than they seemed. Zaharoff’s American interlude coincides with one of the strangest episodes in the long struggle between Irish nationalists and the British Empire. In 1881, not long before ZZ arrived, Irish-American inventor John Phillip Holland launched a submarine dubbed the “Fenian Ram.” The vessel had been commissioned by the Irish Republican Brotherhood, “Fenians,” who planned to use it to terrorise the Royal Navy. In the end, it came to naught; when the Fenians and Holland fell out over payment, the former stole the sub and carried it off to New England, where it sat, since no one knew how to operate it.

Allfrey offhandedly mentions that the “possibility that Zaharoff was behind this coup has never been explored.”43 As Count Zaharoff was busy in Galway, Holland’s sub was undergoing sea trials in the waters around New York. Galway was Holland’s home town and it also was a prime spot for hiding or basing the Ram once it had been smuggled across the Atlantic. The Count’s soliciting of local girls, therefore, may have been a cover for spying on Fenian intrigues. Moreover, as a Russian he could pass as an agent of the Tsar and a potential friend and benefactor to Irish rebels. Might he have promised, and then withheld, money at the critical moment? Or was he simply spying on Holland and trying to bankrupt him through promoting bad deals with the Irish? The greatest naval power in the world was bound to be interested in what Holland was up to, and if the Admiralty didn’t have Zaharoff watching him, they had someone.

It’s also curious that once back in Europe, Zaharoff was very, very interested in all things submarine. In 1886, now calling himself plain Basil Zaharoff, he showed up in Spain. While drumming up business for Nordenfelt, the Greek took keen interest in the sub design of Spanish engineer Isaac Peral. Although technically sound, Peral’s invention was plagued by sabotage and eventually killed by political opposition, all, it is alleged, masterminded by Zaharoff.44

Not coincidentally, Nordenfelt, now based in England, was working on his own submarine. In 1886, Zaharoff had the privilege of selling a prototype to Greece and, a little while later, two more advanced designs to Turkey.45 For the time being, Britain, not America or Spain, had cornered the sub market.

The Budding Merchant of Death

1888 was a stellar year for the budding Merchant of Death. First, Nordenfelt merged with its chief rival, American Hiram Maxim (inventor of the Maxim Gun), and Zaharoff became lead salesman. Next, he took up residence in Paris at 54 rue de la Bienfaissance; the city would remain his headquarters for decades to come. The French government had recently recognised the private trade in arms and munitions, but his arrival also coincided with something else. The same year witnessed the first rumblings of the Panama Scandal, a financial debacle that would engulf the country. Caught up in this was another Parisian resident of uncertain background, Dr. Cornelius Herz. A wealthy entrepreneur and confidant of the rich and powerful, including the French Rothschilds, when the storm finally broke a few years later, Herz stood accused of being an agent for bribes and influence-peddling. He found refuge in England, and he remained there, despite frantic French efforts to extradite him, until his death in 1898.46 Among the many rumours was that Herz had been the resident agent of British intelligence in France which explained why London granted him sanctuary.47 Whether there was any truth to this, or whether is was just Gallic paranoia, remains uncertain.

In years following, some believed that Zaharoff’s appearance just as Herz began to fall was no coincidence, and that the mysterious Greek had simply taken over as the eyes and ears of L’Intelligence Service in the upper echelons of French politics and finance.48 Jacques Bonzon later fingered Zaharoff a tool of the Intelligence Service and the “reincarnation” of Cornelius Herz.49 Even at the time, some thought it curious that the arms dealer became a habitué of the Café Anglais, an infamous gathering place for schemers and high-rollers, as well as spies.

But 1888 is also notable for another development; in that year Vickers & Sons went into the weapons business. Ten years later it had absorbed Maxim-Nordenfelt to become Vickers-Maxim. Zaharoff became its “General Representative for business abroad” and within a few years was earning annual commissions in the range of £100,000.50 There were some who wondered if he hadn’t been working for Vickers all along and that its absorption of Maxim and Nordenfelt had been finessed by the wily Greek.

The notion makes some sense if one considers who – or what – stood behind Vickers. Zaharoff’s two closest associates in the firm were its general manager, Commander Sir Trevor Dawson, and its financial chief, Vincent Caillard. Both were firmly connected to intelligence circles. Dawson spent almost twenty years in the Royal Navy and served as Vickers’, and Zaharoff’s, liaison to the Admiralty’s Naval Intelligence Division.51 Caillard had acted as a British agent in the Balkans and Middle East since the 1870s, and it’s likely that his and Zaharoff’s paths crossed early on. He served openly with the “Intelligence Department” in the 1880s, and his unofficial connection to such circles continued at least through WWI.52

A third close associate of the Greek’s at Vickers was its chief naval architect, George Owens-Thurston. In January 1918, Thurston wrote a letter of recommendation for one Sidney George Reilly which helped him secure a job with the Secret Intelligence Service. Thurston mentioned that he had known Reilly since 1905, and that the subject had been involved in a great deal of “Russian business,” business connected with or beneficial to Vickers.53 Reilly, later famed (if undeservedly) as Britain’s “Ace of Spies” had been Zaharoff’s cat’s paw for years and would continue to be.

Zaharoff did not, as sometimes claimed, own Vickers, or even control a large part of its shares, nor did he control the Monte Carlo Casino, though he sat on the board. His wealth and influence were not based on what he owned but on the diversity of his investments which included banks, oil, construction, shipping, salvage, railways, grain, and newspapers. He founded his first bank, in Paris, in 1891, a surprisingly audacious move for a then minor arms merchant. At its peak in the 1920s Roger Mennevee mapped Zaharoff’s empire embracing three spheres.54 The first was the “Vickers Group” which included banks and naval construction companies. Next was the “Anglo-Persian Group” based on oil, and third was the “Marconi Group” based around radio communications. Zaharoff, among other things, was one of the first media barons.

The Secret of Zaharoff’s Scheming

The soul of Zaharoff’s empire and the secret of his success was le Systeme. According to Jean Marie Moine, it rested on four “pillars.” The first was corruption: bribery, blackmail and insider trading. The second was the “double game”; backing and profiting from both sides in a conflict. Next was finance; if a client couldn’t afford Zedzed’s weapons, he would loan them the money. Finally, there was espionage, which provided the information to make everything else work. To handle this sensitive business, Zaharoff operated his own, far-reaching intelligence service, the “Reseau ZZ.”55

The Greek endeavoured, with varying success, to exert political influence, even to the extent of playing kingmaker. He helped bankroll Greece’s successful campaigns in the 1911-13 Balkan Wars, as well as its disastrous effort to reclaim Anatolia in the early 1920s.56 In 1914, he stage-managed Prince Wilhelm of Wied’s placement on the Albanian throne, while he failed in a bid to place a Greek prince on the Portuguese one.57 He also plotted to put his longtime Spanish mistress (and briefly, wife), the Duchess of Villafranca, on the throne of Monaco.58

In these and similar gambits, Zaharoff’s scheming was almost always in line with interests in London, if not directly sanctioned by them. During WWI, Zaharoff used his money and connections to unseat pro-German Greek King Constantine and secure the country’s adherence to the Allies. In 1918 he was the front man in British backdoor efforts to bribe the Ottomans out of the war. In late October of that year he put up £600,000 of his own money to persuade the Turks to accept an armistice, and by the end of the month they had.59 For such services, Zaharoff became a Knight Grand Cross of the British Empire in 1918 and a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Bath a year later. Since he was a French citizen, these were honorary titles which meant he wasn’t really a “Sir.” He used it anyway, and no one made a fuss.

Another Frenchman, de Hauteclocque, believed that Zaharoff was an important asset of British intelligence and suspected his hand in the questionable deaths of three prominent men. The first was Count Leon Radziwill, who succumbed to a mysterious “lethal injection” administered in Monte Carlo in March 1927. A year later, the second, Luxembourg steel magnate Emile Mayrisch, perished in a car accident. In July 1928, Belgian financier and industrialist Alfred Loewenstein inexplicably fell out of his own airplane over the English Channel. He and Radziwill had crossed swords with Zaharoff. But what really united the trio, besides untimely demises, was that led by Loewenstein they had conspired to create a continental steel cartel.60 This represented a serious challenge not only to Vickers, but also to the British economy as a whole.

Zaharoff as Occult Adept

It was yet another Frenchman, esotericist Rene Guenon, who conjured up the darkest suspicions about the “Man of Mystery.” He found reason to suspect that Zaharoff was not simply an important British agent, but more importantly an occult adept and a “hidden master” of the Theosophists (see sidebar on page 69). Guenon believed the Greek to be none other than the modern incarnation of “Master Rakoczi,” an earthly representative of the even spookier “Unknown Superiors.”61 Theosophists believed that “Master R.” had been earlier embodied by the infamous Count de St. Germain, and before that by the titular Count Rakoczi, as well as both Francis and Roger Bacon.62 It’s easy to argue that Guenon had no facts and a very active imagination. He even expressed some doubt when Sir Basil’s death was announced on 27 November 1936 and thought it somehow significant that it occurred just as the abdication crisis of King Edward VIII reached its climax.63

In his last years, the Merchant of Death became a near recluse, shuttling between his residences in Monte Carlo, Paris and his Chateau de Balincourt. To the outside world, he had become little more than a morbid curiosity.64 When he finally shuffled off his mortal coil, he was laid to rest at Balincourt beside his beloved duchess. Whoever Zaharoff really was, whatever his wealth, whatever his connections to intelligence and the occult, the old man took most of his secrets to the grave. In the end, about the only thing that can be said with absolute certainty about Basil Zaharoff is that he existed. That’s probably just the way he wanted it.

A sidebar titled ‘Zaharoff & the Dark Side’ appears alongside the above article and can be read by purchasing a digital version of New Dawn 134.

This article was published in New Dawn 134.
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  1. E. C. Knuth, The Empire of the City: The Secret History of British Financial Power, San Diego: Book Tree (2006), 40. Originally printed 1944.
  2. Richard Davenport-Hines,” Zaharoff, Basil,” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed., May 2009. (Accessed 1 May 2012).
  3. Infanta Eulalia, Courts and Countries after the War, New York: Dodd, Mead (1925), 283.
  4. LaVey commends Zaharoff, alongside the likes of Rasputin and Cagliostro, in his Satanic Bible.
  5. Davenport-Hines, op. cit.
  6. Peter Bogdanovich, “Interview with Orson Welles”. In Naremore, James, Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane: A Casebook, Oxford University Press (2004), 48–49
  7. Robert Luongo, “Sir Basil and Ezra Pound” (22 Sept. 2010), (Accessed 10 May 2012).
  8. Richard B. Spence, “Aleister Crowley, Sidney Reilly, Basil Zaharoff: Their Influence on the Creation of James Bond and His World,” in Jack Becker, Freedonia Paschall and Robert Weiner (eds.), James Bond and Popular Culture: The Films Are Not Enough, Cambridge Scholars Press, 2010.
  9. Some examples: Anthony Allfrey, Man of Arms: the Life and Legend of Sir Basil Zaharoff, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson (1989); Dr. Richard Lewinsohn, The Mystery Man of Europe: Sir Basil Zaharoff, Philadelphia: J. B. Lippencott (1929); Donald McCormick, Peddler of Death: the Life and Times of Sir Basil Zaharoff, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston (1965); Robert Neumann, Zaharoff, New York: Knopf (1935).
  10. Tristan Gaston-Breton, “Basil Zaharoff,” Les Echos (29 July 2009),
  11. Jean Marie Moine, “Basil Zaharoff,” Ethnologie francaise, Vol. 36, #1 (2006), 141. And special thanks to Bina Tiferet.
  12. “Reputed Richest Man in the World,” Kansas City Star (31 May 1920), 13.
  13. Neumann, 9.
  14. “Sir Basil Zaharoff,” Augusta Chronicle (6 Nov. 1924), A3.
  15. McCormick, 70, Davenport, 59-60.
  16. Lindsay Nicholson, Zaharoff the Jew: Europe’s Greatest Enemy, Metairie, LA: Sons of Liberty (1972). Originally printed, 1937.
  17. Moine, 148, n.12.
  18. Jacques Bonzon, “La reincarnation de Cornelius Hertz, Sir Basil Zaharoff,” L’Activite francaise et etrangere, (July, Sept., Oct, Nov. 1922, and Feb. 1923).
  19. Kaunas Regional Archives, Tax rolls, I-49/1/12938, p. 247.
  20. “Orson Welles on ‘Mr. Arkadin’,” Cahiers du Cinema interview (1958), (Accessed 10 May 2012).
  21. Lewinsohn, 19.
  22. Allfrey, 9.
  23. Allfrey, 4.
  24. McCormick, 38.
  25. W. P. W. Phillimore and E. A. Frye, An Index to Changes in Name, 1760-1901, London (1905).
  26. Marriage certificate, reproduced in McCormick, 48, facing.
  27. Lewinsohn, 23.
  28. UK, The National Archives (TNA), HO 27, Criminal Register, England and Wales, 1791-1892, file 165, pp. 170, 173. See also, The Times, 17 Jan. 1873, 10.
  29. McCormick, 33.
  30. McCormick, 38, citing a 1963 interview with Zinopoulos.
  31. Allfrey, 14.
  32. Biographical note, William Shaw Letters, Columbia University Library Archival Collections, (Accessed 10 May 2012).
  33. Allfrey, 17.
  34. Xavier de Hauteclocque, “Zaharoff: Merchant of Death,” The Living Age (May 1932), 206.
  35. See, for instance, Lewinsohn, 51-55 and Neumann, 57-59.
  36. Allfrey, 23.
  37. Ft. Wayne Daily Gazette (13 July 1882), 6.
  38. Allfrey, 31.
  39. “A Marriage of Local Interest,” Springfield Republican, (29 Aug. 1885), 8.
  40. Ibid.
  41. Ibid.
  42. “Adventurer Zacharoff,” San Francisco Bulletin (15 Oct 1885), 4.
  43. Allfrey, 41.
  44. Javier Sanmateo Isaac Peral, El Submarino Peral, La gran conjura, Cartagena: Divum y Mare (2009).
  45. Richard Compton-Hall, The First Submarines, Penzance: Periscope Publications (1983), 67-69.
  46. New York Times, 7 July 1898, 7.
  47. Charles Rochat-Cenise, Roi des Armes: La vie mysterieuse de Basile Zaharoff, Bienne: Editions du Chandelier (1943), 77, and New York Times, 21 Jan. 1893, 2.
  48. Rochat-Cenise, 77.
  49. Bonzon, op. cit.
  50. TNA, FO 371/10604, Caillard to Chamberlain, 23 April 1925.
  51. Matthew S. Seligmann, Spies in Uniform: British Military and Naval Intelligence on the Eve of the First World War, New York:OUP (2006), 257-258.
  52. UK, House of Lords Record Office, David Lloyd George Papers (LGP), F6/1/23, Caillard to Lloyd George 12 Oct. 1918.
  53. TNA, KV2/827, “Reilly, Sidney G.,” Thurston, 19 January 1918.
  54. Roger Mennevee, Sir Basil Zaharoff: L’homme mysterieux de l’Europe, Paris: Documents politiques (1928).
  55. Moine, 143.
  56. Ibid., 145.
  57. Louis de Maistre, L’Enigme René Guénon et les “Supérieurs Inconnus”: Contribution à l’étude de l’histoire mondiale “souterraine”, Milan: Arche (2004), 612, 615. And special thanks to Markus Osterrieder.
  58. Neumann, 259-265.
  59. LGP, F/30/2/52, Walter Long to Lloyd George, 22 Oct. 1918, an F/44/3/47, Unsigned note, 22 Jan. 1918.
  60. Hauteclocque, “L’Intelligence Service et ses mysteres,” Le Crapouillot, #11, 1931, 72-73, and “Radziwill and Loewenstein, The Living Age, May 1933, 203-211.
  61. De Maistre, 611-612, 619 and Jean Reyor, Quelques souvenirs sur René Guénon et les Études Traditionnelles” (Dossier confidentiel inédit), 9 Dec. 1996, 6.
  62. Aart Jurrianse, “Individual Masters,”
  63. De Maistre, 623-624.
  64. “A Lonely, Old Man,” Canton Repository (11 Sept. 1933), 4.

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About the Author

Dr. Richard B. Spence is a Professor of History at the University of Idaho where he has taught since 1986. His interests include modern Russian, military, espionage and occult history. His published works include Boris Savinkov: Renegade on the Left (1991), Trust No One: The Secret World of Sidney Reilly (2002) and Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult (2008). With Walter Bosley, he co-authored Empire of the Wheel: Espionage, the Occult and Murder in Southern California (Corvos, 2011). He is the author of numerous articles in Revolutionary Russia, Intelligence and National Security, International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism, American Communist History, New Dawn and other publications. He has been a guest on Coast to Coast, The Other Side of Midnight, Radio Liberty and many other programs.

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