Lot #146
Mata Hari

A year before the famous spy is nabbed: thoughts of an outfit needed to dance a minuet and of a Frenchman “whom I fear wounded or dead and who loved me a lot”
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Estimate: $1000+

Description

A year before the famous spy is nabbed: thoughts of an outfit needed to dance a minuet and of a Frenchman “whom I fear wounded or dead and who loved me a lot”

ALS in French, three pages on two adjoining sheets, 5.75 x 7.5, Nieuwe Uitleg 16, La Haye letterhead, annotated in pencil, March 14, 1916. Mata Hari writes to "Mon Cher Consul." In full (translated): "I would be very grateful if you could organize my papers anyway. Please read the letter attached that I received last night as you can see. I could still see my friend [male] and have the costume made that I need to dance Mrs. Bangeville's minuet. Also, please have the letter sent to Jean Le Franc whom I fear wounded or dead and who loved me a lot. I did not receive any news from him for six weeks. And "last not least" [in English in the text] here is the novel. Kind regards with all my thanks in return." In fine condition, with a few small stains to the first page.

A courtesan as well as a dancer, Mata Hari amassed an impressive catalog of lovers, including high-ranking military officers and political figures from both France and Germany. When she sent this letter, she was still a great star, reflected in her reference to having a friend complete a costume needed "to dance Mrs. Bangeville's minuet." Her cavorting with Jean Le Franc, perhaps a French military officer, is also of note, though her proclamation that she fears him "wounded or dead and who loved me a lot" appears sincere…and not linked to her espionage. With the outbreak of World War I, these relationships immediately made her suspicious to French intelligence, which reportedly put her under surveillance.

The circumstances of Mata Hari's alleged spying activities during the war were and remain unclear: It was said that, while in the Netherlands in 1916, she was offered cash by a German consul to report back information obtained on her next visit to France. When British intelligence discovered details of this arrangement, they passed them on to their counterparts in France; Mata Hari was arrested in Paris in February 1917.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autographs and Artifacts
  • Dates: #568 - Ended October 10, 2019





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