Adelheid Luise Spitzeder (9 February 1832 – 27 or 28 October 1895) was a German actress, folk singer, and con artist. She ran what was possibly the first recorded Ponzi scheme. At the height of her success, contemporary sources considered her the wealthiest woman in Bavaria. She died of cardiac arrest in Munich in 1895.
About Adele Spitzeder in brief
Adelheid Luise Spitzeder (9 February 1832 – 27 or 28 October 1895) was a German actress, folk singer, and con artist. She ran what was possibly the first recorded Ponzi scheme. At the height of her success, contemporary sources considered her the wealthiest woman in Bavaria. She never married, but it was noted that she carried on several lesbian relationships. She died of cardiac arrest in Munich in 1895. Her parents were the actors and singers Josef and Elisabeth Betty Spitzeder-Vio. They met in Berlin where both were engaged at the Königsstädtisches Theater, Josef as a director and Betty as an actress; they married in 1831. King Ludwig I offered him and his wife a salary of 6,000 gulden yearly if they took a permanent engagement at the National Theater, which led to the family moving to Munich. She was tutored in foreign languages, composing and piano-playing. In 1856 or 1857, she debuted at the Hofbühne in Coburg to great acclaim playing Deborah and Mary Stuart. Despite being offered an engagement at Mannheim Theatre, she knew that she would be tasked with playing supporting roles and thus decided to work at the theater instead. According to her autobiography, her success there led to conflicts with the other actors which in turn led to her leaving the engagement after six months for health reasons. After returning to Munich, she was offered an acting job in Nuremberg where she was engaged for a year.
Afterwards, she played in Frankfurt, Zürich, Mainz, and Karlsruhe. She returned to Munich in 1878 to visit her mother and was offered a job in Munich. In 1880, she returned to her mother’s urging to recuperate, but she died of a heart attack in Munich at the age of 48. She is buried in Munich’s Nuremburg Cemetery, next to her parents, Betty and Josef. She had six half-siblings from her father’s first marriage to Henriette Schüler, and one half-brother from her second marriage. Her father died in 1832; her mother died in 1861; she had six siblings from her parents’ first marriage, and six cousins from her first marriage. She lived off friends and benefactors, but never left her criminal life completely behind her, resulting in further trials and periods of incarceration. Her bank was closed and 32,000 people lost 38 million gulderen, the equivalent of almost 400 million euros in 2017 money, causing a wave of suicides. After her release from prison in 1876, she unsuccessfully tried to act again in Altona and Berlin. She left Germany for Vienna but police there prevented her engagement, so she return to Munich to publish her memoir. In her memoirs, she claims that the Duke of Coburg and the Duchess of Württemberg both praised her talent.
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