Thérèse Humbert (1856–1918) was a French female fraudster, who pretended to be an heir of an imaginary American millionaire Robert Crawford.
Humbert was born Thérèse Daurignac, a peasant girl in Aussonne, Midi-Pyrénées, France. As a child, she once convinced her friends to pool their jewelry so that she could fool others into believing she was wealthy. She married Frédéric Humbert, son of the mayor of Toulouse. Soon after, she began to tell a tale that she had received an unusual inheritance.
Humbert claimed that in 1879, when she was in a train, she heard groans from the next compartment. She entered into it by climbing along the outside of the train. There she found a man who was having a heart attack. When she had helped him with her smelling salts, the man told he was an American millionaire named Robert Henry Crawford. He was eternally grateful and would reward her some day. Two years later in 1881, she received a letter that stated that Crawford had died and made her beneficiary of his will. The will stated that the Humberts were to look after the family fortune in a safe that should remain sealed until her younger sister Marie was old enough to marry one of Crawford's two nephews, Henry Crawford.
With this story, Humbert obtained a huge loan using the supposed inheritance as a collateral. She moved to Paris with her husband and bought an elaborate house in Avenue de la Grande Armée .
Humbert gathered much influence, fame and wealth. Her salon became a center of socializing. Humbert and her associates, other members of the Humbert family, borrowed money against the nonexistent inheritance. They lived in luxury for about 20 years, spending their money on flowers, elaborate dresses and banquets. Eventually they had to borrow more money to cover the previous loans. There were suspicions, but nobody was able to prove the story false.
In 1883, Le Matin newspaper published a skeptical article, but Humbert's father-in-law, who at the time was the minister of justice, supported her story. Humbert claimed that the Crawfords had sued him so that she would have to place her part of the inheritance to Crédit Lyonnais bank. After lengthy litigation, during which the two Crawford nephews, Henry and Robert, appeared in court, the court ruled that the locked safe should remain in Humbert's possession.
When Jules Bizat, official for the French bank, asked Humbert how she had invested her money, she claimed that it was in government bonds. Bizat checked and found that it was not the case. Humbert had organized a generous pension plan she had named Rente Viagère to get more money and used it to pay her debts and buy bonds.
Eventually the creditors noticed that the supposed amount of the inheritance would never be able to cover all the loans and legal costs. Le Matin demanded that the safe should be opened. In 1901, Humbert's creditors sued her, and the next year the Parisian court gave an order that the fabled safe would be opened to prove the existence of the money. The safe was found nearly empty, containing only a brick and an English halfpenny.
The scandal rocked the French financial world, and thousands of smaller creditors and investors were ruined. The in-laws of the painter Henri Matisse, M. and Mme. Parayre, became scapegoats in the affair.Matisse's mother-in-law, who was the Humbert family's housekeeper, fell under suspicion, and her husband was arrested. Matisse's studio was searched by detectives, and his wife's family found themselves menaced by angry mobs of fraud victims. M. Parayre eventually went on hunger strike in an attempt to clear his name, with Matisse acting in lieu of a lawyer.
The Humberts had already fled the country, but they were arrested in Madrid in December 1902. Thérèse Humbert was tried and sentenced to five years' hard labor. Her two brothers, who had masqueraded as Crawford's nephews, were sentenced to two and three years each. Her husband Frédèric was also sentenced to five years. Her sister Marie, daughter Eve and deceased father-in-law, the justice minister Gustave Humbert, were stated to be victims of the fraud.
The generally held theory is that when Thérèse Humbert was released from prison, she emigrated to the United States and that she died in Chicago in 1918. People whom she had defrauded remained mostly silent to avoid further embarrassment.
Most sources repeat that Thérèse emigrated to Chicago where she died. However, in the weekly paper Détective, edition number 79 dated 1 May 1930, there is an article entitled Vingt Ans d'illusionnisme (20 Years of Conjuring'). The article is written by Monsieur J. France who was one of the leading lights in the prosecution against Thérèse Humbert and who went to Madrid to take her back to Paris for trial. The story of the fraud is retold in the article following the death of Romain Daurignac, the brother of Thérèse. In this article, J. France says: 'Thérèse Humbert is still living, poorly, in Paris. She has lost her miraculous vitality. What a reverse of fortune her golden past has left her. She is a quite humble old lady, who never speaks to anyone." (Thérése Humbert vit toujours, petitement, à Paris. Elle a perdu sa miraculeuse vitalité. Quels revers lui a laissés le passé d'or? C'est une vieille femme assez humble, qui ne parle jamais'.) There are also two photos. One of these shows the door to a house in Paris and has underneath the note: 'Here, boulevard des Batignolles, lives to-day, she who was 'la Grande Thérèse'. (Ici, boulevard des batignolles, demeure aujourd'hui celle qui fut 'la Grande Thérèse'.) On the second photo the note beneath says: 'Behind these windows with the white curtains, Thérèse Humbert meditates on her past'. (Derrière ces fenêtres aux rideaux blancs, Thérèse Humbert médite sur son passé...)
A french biographical crime drama based on her life was released in 1983. Thérèse Humbert (1983 film) was directed by Marcel Bluwal and written by Jean-Claude Grumberg.
With Oscar and Emmy winning actress Simone Signoret as Thérèse Humbert. Starring alongside her Robert Rimbaud, François Périer, Bernard Fresson, Guy Tréjan,
Michel Aumond and Anja Tolle as Ève Humbert.
Henri Émile Benoît Matisse was a French artist, known for both his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter. Matisse is commonly regarded, along with Pablo Picasso, as one of the artists who best helped to define the revolutionary developments in the visual arts throughout the opening decades of the twentieth century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture.
Louis XVII was the younger son of King Louis XVI of France and Queen Marie Antoinette. His older brother, Louis Joseph, Dauphin of France, died in June 1789, a little over a month before the start of the French Revolution. At his brother's death he became the new Dauphin, a title he held until 1791, when the new constitution accorded the heir apparent the style of Prince Royal.
Camille Doncieux was the first wife of French painter Claude Monet, with whom she had two sons. She was the subject of a number of paintings by Monet, as well as Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Édouard Manet.
Marie-Thérèse Charlotte of France, Madame Royale, was the eldest child of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, and the only one to reach adulthood. She was married to Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême, who was the eldest son of the future Charles X, her father's younger brother; thus the bride and groom were also first cousins.
The Cheaters (1945) [also known as MR. M. and the Pigeons, The Amazing MR. M., The Magnificent Mr. M. and The Magnificent Rogue) is a Christmas "screwball comedy" tale about a has-been actor invited to Christmas dinner by a rich family. The film was atypical of the Republic Pictures studio, directed by Joseph Kane and starring Joseph Schildkraut. The film was re-released in 1949 under a new title, The Castaway, and when the Republic film catalogue was sold in the 1950s as late night television fodder, it appeared consistently for years as a Christmas staple throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
Fernand-Gustave-Gaston Labori was a French attorney. He was born in Reims. In his professional life, he defended the accused in some of the most prominent political cases of his day. Among his noted clients was Alfred Dreyfus, who was eventually acquitted of treason. During the Dreyfus trial, Labori was the victim of an assassination attempt which hospitalized him for a week. The attacker was never identified.
(Susan) Hilary Spurling , CBE, FRSL, is a British writer, known for her work as a journalist and biographer.
Thérèse is an opera in two acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Jules Claretie. While Thérèse remains among Massenet's lesser-known works, the piece has spawned a number of revivals and recordings.
Agathe de Rambaud was born in Versailles as Agathe-Rosalie Mottet and was baptized in the future cathedral Saint-Louis of Versailles, on 10 December 1764. She died in Aramon, in the département of Gard, on 19 October 1853. She was the official nurse of the royal children, and particularly in charge of the Dauphin from 1785 to 1792.
Notre-Dame, une fin d'après-midi is a painting by Henri Matisse from 1902. Its somber coloration is typical of Matisse's works executed between the end of 1901 and the end of 1903, a period of personal difficulties for the artist. This episode has been called Matisse's Dark Period.
Félix Fénéon was a French anarchist and art critic during the late 19th century. He coined the term Neo-Impressionism in 1886 to identify a group of artists led by Georges Seurat, and ardently promoted them.
Agnès Humbert was an art historian, ethnographer and a member of the French Resistance during World War II. She has become well known through the publication of a translation of the diary of her experiences during the War in France and in German prisons at the time of the Nazi occupation.
Father of My Children is a 2009 French drama film directed by Mia Hansen-Løve. It won the Jury Special Prize in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. It is based in part on the life of the late Humbert Balsan.
Charles Humbert was a French army captain, tax collector, Senator and newspaper proprietor.
La fauvette du temple is an opéra comique in three acts of 1885, with music by André Messager and a French libretto by Paul Burani and Eugène Humbert.
The Lovable Cheat is a 1949 American historical comedy film directed by Richard Oswald and starring Charles Ruggles, Peggy Ann Garner and Richard Ney. It is based on the 1848 play Mercadet Le Faiseur by Honoré de Balzac. It was the final film of the veteran Austrian director Oswald, who had fled into exile following the Nazi rise to power. Buster Keaton played a small supporting role in the film, as his career had seriously declined by this stage.
Swindle is a 2013 American television film starring Noah Crawford, Chris O'Neal, Jennette McCurdy, Noah Munck, Ariana Grande, Ciara Bravo, and Fred Ewanuick. Based on Gordon Korman's novel of the same name, the film tells the story of Griffin, a boy who retrieves his friend's valuable baseball card from an unscrupulous collectibles dealer with the help of his friends. Sneak peeks promoting the film aired on Nickelodeon during three Sam & Cat episodes. The film premiered August 24, 2013 to an audience of over 4.2 million viewers. The film was released on DVD on March 19, 2014, and on Blu-ray on December 4, 2015.
Lydia Nikolaevna Délectorskaya was a Russian refugee and model best known for her collaboration with Henri Matisse from 1932 onwards.
Born in Northern France, Henriette Darricarère was a ballerina, musician, and muse for the painter Henri Matisse. Darricarère was discovered at age nineteen in the Victorine Studios in Nice by Henri Matisse, for whom she modeled until she married.