Friday, December 07, 2007

Mad King Ludwig Murdered?

From the Telegraph:
A century-old mystery surrounding the fate of the “Mad King” who built Bavaria’s celebrated fairytale castles has taken a new twist after an historian claimed that he was murdered.
The allegation comes from an art expert turned sleuth who claims that contemporary portraits of Ludwig II prove that far from killing himself in a fit of melancholy, he was assassinated to put an end his extravagant spending.
Ludwig’s body was found on June 13, 1886, in the knee-deep waters of a lake not far from Neuschwanstein Castle, his most fanciful creation, whose soaring towers and turrets now draw tourists from all over the world.
After a cursory investigation, the death was declared suicide by drowning - a verdict fiercely protected by his successors, who have forbidden any modern scientific examination of his remains.
But art historian Siegfried Wichmann now claims that he can prove that Ludwig was murdered, after an investigation that has taken up half his life and has drawn upon his own wartime experience. “I can say that, professionally, I have never been wrong in all my career,” said Mr Wichmann, who is the leading authority on Bavarian paintings from the late 19th century.
A secret Bavarian society known as the Guglmänner, whose members dress in capes and hoods and claim to be guardians of the German monarchy, has long questioned the official version of his death. But the calls for Ludwig’s body to be exhumed and given a modern autopsy have now grown louder. Last month, Detlev Utermöhle, a Bavarian banker, made a sworn statement claiming that he had seen the coat Ludwig was wearing on the day of his death, and that it contained two bullet holes.

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