John du Pont had nothing on Jacques Lebaudy, the so-called “Emperor of the Sahara.” Lebaudy was the wealthy French scion of a sugar fortune, and due to dollar signs and decimal points, he was labeled eccentric rather than insane, despite stints in a sanitarium. In 1903, he embarked on perhaps the most eccentric-millionaire scheme ever, creating his own ad hoc navy and “invading” Africa, moving several hundred houses with him from Europe to enjoy the comforts of home in the desert. His ragtag “cabinet” proved inept in their new land, and the mission had to be aborted, the planned railroad never built.
Lebaudy’s behavior just grew more erratic from there. When his beleaguered wife eventually shot him to death in their Long Island home after the crazed millionaire decided to take their teenage daughter as his wife (the privilege of an emperor, he believed), no indictments were forthcoming. An excerpt follows from the report of his murder in the January 12, 1919 Brooklyn Daily Eagle.