History pages © 4.bp.blogspot.com favourite with the rich and famous from Mar ie Blanc f inanced f rom her own the continent. Francois Blanc was soon nicknamed «The Wizard of Homburg». savings the refurbishment of those famous The brothers introduced Homburg to the cellars which today are a true token of the game of roulette. Dostoevsky himself was a regular visitor to their gambling houses Hotel de Paris. for almost 10 years. This is where François first met charming young Madeleine-Victoire Huguelin from Alsace. They never got married, but two children were born from With time, as Homburg got over its debts and set out on a constant their union, Camille Blanc in 1847 and Karl Blanc in 1848. But a path to prosperity, the government in Frankfurt turned against number of misfortunes were awaiting François Blanc later on. His gambling, making François go bankrupt again. But as he never gave beloved prematurely died in 1852 and his brother Louis passed up, the businessman continued to devise new ways of accumulating away that same year after a long illness. wealth and prosperity. M adeleine-Victoria Gugelin was not the only woman, however, who played an important role in François Blanc’s life. Marie Charlotte Hansel later came to help François look after his household after the death of his beloved. With time, François grew fond of Marie and her amazing lively character. Since Marie was yet so young, François offered her a deal — he would improve her family’s living conditions, give her a good education and when she came of age, they would marry. In 1854, when Mary turned 21, the couple wed in Paris. Two more children Edmond and Marie-Felix were born from that marriage. François Blanc died in Switzerland in 1877, leaving behind a fortune of 72 million francs, now equivalent to about 450 million euros. 68 / Hello Monaco – Winter 2018 H omburg could only attract visitors over the summer season. In winter, its elite clientele preferred the moderate climate of the Riviera, suggesting to François Blanc the idea that it could be an ideal place for accomodating tourists all year round. He also learnt that the Prince of Monaco had recently legalized gambling in the Principality having seen its great success with the rich clients in Homburg. François Blanc thus set off to Monaco, putting all his fortune into the acquisition of the SBM company, for a huge price of 2,290,000 francs. He also invested much capital into the country, sponsoring new roads and railways. Thanks to his talent and rich experience in Homburg, François made Monaco a new fashionable destination for tourism and gambling. The Prince of Monaco, Charles III, gave Blanc quite a lot of freedom in his business. He therefore invested even more capital into the country that provided multiple returns on his investment. «T he Wizard of Homburg» thus became «The Wizard of Monte-Carlo». With the arrival of François Blanc, the money problems for the princely government were long forgotten and became history. In the first years of SBM managed by François Blanc, more than 30,000 visitors came to see Monaco. Many of them were Homburg residents curious to discover the new «nest» now open in Monaco. Generous visitors were spending their money easily. In the first few years, Blanc’s income reached 640.000 francs. This was not enough, however, as he reinvested five times more on building more gambling establishments and developing business in the Principality.