The story of the man who left his wife his collection of (valuable) Dinky toys took me back to a tale of nude photographs.
Property dealer Clive Raphael apparently bequeathed his wife, the model Penny Brahms, a shilling and some revealing shots of her. It came to light in March 1970 when, two days after the date of the will, Raphael was killed in an air crash. He had left his fortune to his good friend, the talented, if raffish, barrister Ronald Shulman.
Ms Brahms was understandably aggrieved at Shulman’s luck but it had been a case of making his own. The will was a forgery, the result of a conspiracy between Shulman, his one-time mistress and Eric Henry Alba Teran the Duc d’Antin. There were arrests all round but Shulman didn’t stay even for the committal proceedings. He disappeared and was thought to have gone to Brazil, setting a precedent for Ronnie Biggs.
It was never quite established how Raphael’s light aircraft had come to explode but the general view is that the opportunistic Shulman forged the will after learning of his friend’s death. Amid threats that Shulman would bash her head against the wall, the unfortunate former mistress had typed the will out with one finger. Said by her counsel in the style of advocacy at the time that she ‘had sold her soul to the devil’ she was told by the Common Sergeant, Mervyn Griffiths-Jones (the man who did not wish wives to read Lady Chatterley): ‘If you take my advice you will see no more of this other man and forget this now. You are still young, go back to your family and start again.’
She was put on probation. D’Antin received three years with another tacked on for appropriating Raphael’s white Rolls-Royce. He was also recommended for deportation. Over the years there have been alleged Lucan-like sightings of Shulman and, in absentia, he was credited with the ‘Shulman defence’ to cocaine smuggling. At Lewes Crown Court, so many defendants from South America were claiming they thought the drugs they were found to be smuggling were in fact emeralds, it was deemed they must be receiving expert English legal advice.
With the jury’s verdict Ms Brahms, who had by then married the playboy and amateur jockey ‘Dandy Kim’ Caborn-Waterfield, who owned the first Ann Summers shop, found her 1 shilling (5p) bequest had grown to something in the region of £12m.
James Morton is a writer and former criminal defence solicitor