Baron Alfred von Drachstedt Contemplates Action to Recover for Wardrobe.
ISSUE INVOLVES MILLIONS.
Accident and Life Insurance Companies Are Hard Hit by Disaster.
What, if any, is the liability of the White Star Line for passengers’ property lost on the ill-fated Titanic?
This question may be determined in the United States District Court by Baron Alfred von Drachstedt, a young German nobleman of Cologne, who has just retained as counsel Arthur W. Opp of 15 William street, Manhattan, with whom he has deposited a list of articles embracing his personal wardrobe and jewelry valued at $2,320.50, lost with the sinking ship.
Baron von Drachstedt, who is now stopping in Brooklyn, is a close personal friend of Paul Schulze-Berge, jr., of 287 East Eighteenth street, Flatbush, who last June married Miss Rose Schoverling, formerly well known as a soprano at the Pilgrim Church, but more recently of the Wiesbaden Opera.
Baron Drachstedt, a youth of 20, who was taken to the German Hospital, Manhattan, after the arrival of the Carpathia Thursday night, suffering from the effects of the opening of a wound caused by a recent operation in Paris, is an aeroplanist and driver of racing automobiles. His mother induced him to come to the United States to make a start in life, and his ambition is to accomplish this as a demonstration of high speed automobiles for some manufacturer here.
“At the time of the accident I was playing cards in the smoker on Deck A with two friends, Mr. Blanc [sic] and Mr. Greenfield,” said Baron von Drachstedt today to an Eagle reporter. “We noticed a jar and went on deck to meet a few men and women, also making inquiries. Learning we had hit an iceberg, I went as far down into the hull to investigate as I could. When I reached the deck where the tennis courts were I saw water covering it to height of about six feet. After going above and notifying my friends of the danger I wrote a few lines to my mother and then went to my stateroom and put on a sweater, vest and life preserver, after changing my evening dress for other clothes. My friends and I then helped to get the women into the boats and got in ourselves when ordered to do so.”
Following is an itemized list of the articles of apparel and jewelry for which Baron von Drachstedt will sue for compensation if Lawyer Opp advises him to do so:
- Ten suits of clothes, comprising eight business suits, at $30 each: $240.00
- Two tuxedos, at $40 each: 80.00
- Four overcoats; theater coat, $50; paddock coat, $40; paddock coat, $30; ulster, $35: 155.00
- Twenty white evening shirts, $2.50 each (made at Foritzhelm’s Colon): 50.00
- Twenty negligee colored shirts (made by Louis Einmel, Colon), $2 each: 40.00
- Fifteen night shirts, at $1.50 each: 22.50
- Forty collars (new), 25 cents each: 10.00
- Four new sets of underwear (bought in Paris), at $3 each: 12.00
- Ten complete sets of underwear (brought from home, practically new), $2.50 per set: 25.00
- Forty pair of sox [sic], average $1.20 per pair: 48.00
- Two pair of tennis shoes, one at $4, one at $5: 9.00
- Fourteen pair of boots, average $5 per pair: 70.00
- One hundred and twenty ties, average cost $1 each (most of them bought at Foritzhelm’s, Colon: 120.00
- Fifty handkerchiefs, at 40 cents each: 20.00
- Aviator coat, fur lined, leather with skunk collar: 100.00
- Six pairs of knickerbockers, at $12.50 each: 75.00
- Two pairs of leather leggings, at $4 per pair: 8.00
- Three big Madler’s trunks, at $50: 150.00
- Ten pairs of gloves, at $1.25: 12.50
- Two top hats, at $6.25: 12.50
- Felt hat: 5.00
- Derby hat: 4.00
- Three caps, at $1.50 each: 4.50
- Two Panama hats, at $12.50 each: 25.00
- Two straw hats, at $3 each: 6.00
- Four leather belts, at $1 each: 4.00
- Five pair tennis trousers, at $10: 50.00
- Three tennis coats, at $7: 21.00
- Cash in marks that went down with the boat, $750, or in American money: 157.50
- Two gold rings, at $6.50: 13.00
- One diamond ring, 450 marks: 125.00
- One gold bracelet, valued at 70 marks: 17.50
- Two silver cigarette cases valued at $15: 30.00
- Cuff links with diamond and ruby: 50.00
- Gold watch: 150.00
- Gold chain: 50.00
- Silver match box: 2.50
- One diamond studded scarf pin: 20.00
- Two diamond studs, valued at $25 each
- One tennis racket: 10.00
- Two hunting suits, at $25 each: 50.00
- One ebony walking cane with ivory top: 25.00
- Suit case with toilet articles complete: 25.00
- Two steamer rugs, at $10 each: 20.00
- Second set of toilet articles with silver brush, tortoise shell comb, manicure set of ebony; total value: 50.00
- Fountain pen: 5.00
- Ten tennis shirts of silk, $5 each: 50.00
The above list, with accompanying information as to where the several articles were purchased, is set forth in the course of an affidavit by Baron von Drachstedt. Mr. Opp declines to state whether he will advise his client to sue until he has had time to look up the maritime law dealing with the subject, and refuses to discuss the case from a legal standpoint until he has made himself familiar with the law.
Success of Suit Would Mullet Line of Millions.
Should Baron von Drachstedt bring a successful action for compensation for the loss of his wardrobe and jewelry, a precedent would be set which would, of course, result in the White Star Line being mulcted for almost incalculable damages for the loss of personal and other uninsured property left with the Titanic.
Insurance experts now calculate that the total losses on the Titanic will aggregate near $15,000,000, two thirds of which will fall on the marine insurance companies. American companies doing a general insurance business have also felt the brunt of the disaster heavily.
The greatest individual loss, not even excepting Lloyds, will, it seems, have to be borne by the Travelers of Hartford, which in accident risks alone is liable for $1,000,000 on policies held by Titanic passengers, as well as $85,000 on straight life policies. This company also has an added loss on marine insurance, it is conjectured, as it is one of four or five companies doing that kind of business. Others are the Aetna, Pacific Mutual and the Columbian National.
It is said that Lloyds carried $5,000,000 insurance on the ship alone for indemnity to its owners, though Johnson & Higgins, the brokers who placed the insurance, say that only $1,050,000 was placed with the underwriters at Lloyds and that the remainder was widely distributed throughout the world.
Insurance Field, the insurance journal, however, places the loss in marine insurance at $10,000,000, and underwriters assume that the added $5,000,000 over the insurance itself represents policies covering cargo and valuables in transit. The insurance newspaper mentioned sums up the losses as follows:
Life insurance: $2,203,000
Accident insurance: 2,213,000
Marine insurance: 10,000,000