Charles Wells – The Bank-Breaker of Monte Carlo

Monaco’s Casino de Monte-Carlo is possibly the most legendary of all casinos on the planet. Its belle-epoque design and graceful finishes highlight the vast amounts of money that flow through its doors and across its tables.

To Charles De Ville Wells, it was irresistible. He was determined to break the bank, and, whether by fate or fraud, that’s exactly what he did. Look into the life of the Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo with Spin Palace.

Poet’s Child, Inventor and Fraud

Born in 1841 to lawyer and poet Charles Jeremiah Wells and his wife Emily in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, Charles De Ville was only several weeks old when the family upped and left England for France.

The Wells family first stayed in Quimper, before moving on to Marseille. Old enough to work, Charles took an engineering job at the docks, where he eventually invented a ship propeller-regulating device.

He sold the patent for the princely sum of 5000 francs and then moved to Paris, where he promptly began defrauding people using various schemes.

Not wanting to face jail, he took a trip across the Channel, where he found a new and evidently gullible audience for his fraudulent schemes.

Charles Goes to Monte Carlo

In the summer and autumn of 1891, Charles Wells holidayed in Monaco. Well, we say ‘holidayed’, but R and R was the last thing on his mind.

He walked into the Monte Carlo with a £4,000 bankroll. Several times the croupiers had to perform the solemn ritual devised by former casino owner François Blanc, whereby the table at which the bank had been broken was covered with a black cloth.

By the time Charles said au revoir to Monaco, he had won £60,000. Was he in cahoots with the casino as part of a publicity stunt? Did he indeed perfect and use a fail-proof system? Was it luck?

We have no idea. He himself claimed to have used a perfect system.

Shiver His Timbers

Charles Wells took a portion of the money he won when he broke the bank of Monte Carlo, and bought a luxury yacht, ballroom included. He later returned to Monaco, but lost a huge amount of money.

1892 saw him arrested on his yacht in France, and sent back to Britain. He spent time in and out of prison and got back to his fraudulent old tricks before his death in 1922.

Play casino games at Spin Palace, and find out if you can put Charles Wells’ winnings to shame now!