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The Lusitania : Part 7 : Passengers of Distinction

C.F. Williamson, 40, was officially described as being an “art dealer, connoisseur and commissionaire.” He had realized at least $92,000.00 from the sale of a collection he exported to the United States from France in late 1914, and doubtlessly that sum allowed him to live his described ‘affluent’ lifestyle.

Charles Williamson

Charles Williamson

Williamson was personally friends with the highest levels of New York society, and his friendship with Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt had brought him brief notoriety, when he became a player in what was perhaps the greatest scandal of Vanderbilt’s life. Vanderbilt’s mistress, Mrs. Mary Agnes Ruiz, committed suicide in London when things soured between them. Williamson, who was described as Mrs. Ruiz’s “agent,” and who was renting her Paris residence, hurried to London, dismissed her servants, took charge of her affairs and supervised the disposal of her possessions. He gave a deposition at the inquest, but the court sealed the details. The verdict was “suicide while of unsound mind.”

It was discovered after Williamson’s death, that he owed large sums in the form of unsecured loans made by Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, George J. Gould, and others. It was also discovered that Williamson died close to broke. His family assumed that he must have hidden his never-to-be-located wealth somewhere outside of Paris, to prevent it from falling into German hands, but the fact that no books or accounts were ever found to document Williamson’s personal or business worth implies that, perhaps, he may have been a charlatan.

The disposal of his estate brought in $140,500.00, which allowed his debts to be paid off at the rate of .82 on the dollar. Williamson contributed to the upkeep of his aged father, and gave generously to the support of his sister, who was married to a terminally ill man. These illustrations of the better side of his nature allow one to suppose that, if they were together during the disaster, Williamson stuck with Millie until the end. However, their story has been lost, leaving Kessler’s odd remark as the final word on the couple.

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