Fortune's Spear: The Story of the Blue-Blooded Rogue Behind the Most Notorious City Scandal of the 1920s
Gerard Lee Bevan was the black sheep of one of London's most respectable banking families. A high-living womanizer and upper-class shyster of almost pantomime proportions, he exploited a glittering range of social connections. After a long run of success in City dealings he perpetrated a massive fraud which ruined both the City Equitable Fire Insurance Company and his stockbroking firm, Ellis & Co. He fled the country and was eventually arrested, tried and jailed.
Based on new research, Martin Vander Weyer tells the story of a fraud of extraordinary proportions, perpetrated by an aristocratic Englishman from a seemingly impeccable background. Exploring exactly how Bevan managed it, he reconstructs in rich Edwardian detail the environment and characters of the day, as well as Bevan’s desperate attempt at disguise and flight across Europe.
With resonances in today's financial world, from the 2008 crash to the likes of fraudsters such as Bernard Madoff, Fortune's Spear is a compelling true crime tale and a fascinating glimpse into a bygone financial world.
A wonderfully vivid biography of the man responsible for one of the great City scandals. The world that Martin Vander Weyer recreates with a novelist's flair and historian's attention to detail may be long gone, but this very human morality tale of high talent and high connection fatally compromised by a flawed character is timeless. --David Kynaston, author of 'City of London: The History'
Exciting stuff ... It is a rattling good yarn and leaves you wondering whether the man had a rotten core from the beginning or whether it was addiction to money and social position which seduced him into crime. It is a cautionary tale. --Martin Jacomb, 'The Spectator'
This well-researched and well-written book is more than the story of a City scandal. It is a fascinating slice of social history and a rumination on fraud and folly. --Allan Massie, 'The Scotsman'
'Fortune's Spear' is a splendidly rich account of a fraud that both symbolises its own era and prefigures our own. Unlike many financial writers, Vander Weyer writes so clearly that even a financial illiterate like myself can just about grasp what he is getting at. He also has a wonderfully broad frame of cultural reference. --Craig Brown, Book of the Week, 'Daily Mail'