ADAM WORTH 1844-1902

The Napoleon of Crime makes Mo­ri­arty look like a pussy­cat!


In the an­nals of fic­tional crime one name stands above the rest. That, of course, is Pro­fes­sor James Mo­ri­arty. Yet the arch-neme­sis of Sher­lock Holmes didn’t spring from nowhere, he was in­spired by the ex­ploits of Adam Worth, nick­named “the Napoleon of the crim­i­nal world”, just like his fic­tional coun­ter­part.

Ger­man-born Worth em­i­grated to the USA with his fam­ily at young age. He fought in the Amer­i­can Civil War but, when he was wrongly listed as killed in ac­tion, he ab­sconded and lived for a time as a bounty hunter. Cap­tured and thrown into Sing Sing, he es­caped to Europe and plunged into a new life as a thief. Here he em­ployed a va­ri­ety of pseu­do­nyms to cover his au­da­cious crim­i­nal net­work, all funded by a lu­cra­tive il­le­gal gam­bling den in Paris!

When Worth was fi­nally cap­tured dur­ing a rob­bery in Liège in 1892, there was pre­cious lit­tle ev­i­dence of his pre­vi­ous crimes. He served just five years in prison and af­ter his re­lease, he funded his re­tire­ment by sell­ing a Gains­bor­ough paint­ing that he had stolen in Lon­don a quar­ter of a cen­tury ear­lier.

Adam Worth died in 1902 but in Pro­fes­sor Mo­ri­arty, he is im­mor­tal.

Adam Worth might have in­spired Mo­ri­arty, but his son made his name up­hold­ing the law!

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