Friday, September 7, 2012

Arthur Cravan and the Oscar Wilde Hoax

I'm always thrilled to discover interesting sidebars in my dandy history, particularly when they connect various figures and themes. The dadaist poet, artist, and dandy Arthur Cravan was a notorious hoaxer - some even think he faked his death. What's more, he once challenged former world heavyweight champion Jack Johnson to a boxing match as an art project while the two of them were on the run: Cravan fleeing the draft in the First World War and Johnson fleeing prosecution for sex trafficking in the U.S. If that weren't amazing enough, Cravan was also Oscar Wilde's nephew. One can easily see why he was one of Marcel Duchamp's favorite people. Cravan once claimed that his uncle Oscar wasn't really dead and had, in fact, come to visit him in Paris. The papers were so desperate for juicy Wilde gossip that the New York Times even sent a special correspondent to Paris. The original article can be found in their online archives:

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