Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

About the Estate

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Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes
About the Estate
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Portrait of Sir Arthur Conan DoyleAll of us know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is the most read author in the world. To this day, Schools and Universities ask for permission to use his work to teach students how to write better.

Many of us know that Sir Arthur was deeply involved in Spiritualism and the Occult. He declared early on that he believed in life after death and the communication with those who passed away. This is unexpected from a man who created the highly logical Sherlock Holmes. But he had such a great reputation and was so sincere, that many opponents of Spiritualism started to believe in him. Shortly before his death, Sir Arthur wrote: "I have had many adventures. The greatest of all awaits me now."

If what he believed is true, one can't but wonder how he felt when his last living child Lady Jean Bromet, sold his entire Literary Estate out of financial greed. Whether by Fate, God's will or Sir Arthur's, his daughter ended by not recapturing her father's life's work.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died in 1930, leaving his widow Jean, their three children, Dennis, Adrian and Jean, and his daughter Mary, by his first wife.

The author had left his literary works in Trust. One of the Trustees was Fides Union Fiduciaire, a Swiss company, famous for protecting wealthy people from tax liabilities.

By the late Sixties, the surviving heirs to his Estate were his daughters Dame Jean Bromet, Princess Nina Mdivani, the widow of his son Dennis who had remarried her husband's secretary Anthony Harwood, and Anna Conan Doyle, Adrian's widow.

These three ladies, who were equal beneficiaries, did not get along at all. They were constantly arguing and involving themselves in litigation. Their dislike of Fides Union Fiduciaire seemed to be their only common denominator.

In 1968, Princess Nina Mdivani approached Jonathan Clowes; a Literary Agent based in London, asking him to analyze the income generated by the Literary Estate. She explained to the agent, that Adrian, who was domiciled in the Chateau de Lucens near Geneva, had managed the Estate until his death. Her complaint was that the accounts showed the current annual income to be only about 25.000.

Jonathan Clowes accompanied by Nina's lawyer, Sydney Pearlman, went to Geneva to find out why the income was so small. The files revealed that the woman who ran the office, and who was reputed to have been Adrian's mistress, was not a good agent but a fairly well organized manager. From a publishing point of view, business had been conducted in a very unimaginative fashion, but when Jonathan Clowes came to examine the "film files" he noticed that "some information was missing." Continued...