Photo: Rex Features via CNN
This weekend everyone is talking about the German who duped the likes of George Soros, Robert McNamara and Antonin Scalia into thinking he ran an influential think tank—until he was arrested for murdering his wife.Written by New Republic editor Franklin Foer and published in the New York Times Magazine, “The Worst Marriage in Georgetown” reads like a twisted version of the movie “Being There.”
East German emigrant Albrecht Muth was a nobody in DC when he met Georgetown socialite Viola Drath, a fellow German 44 years his senior.
When Drath’s husband died, Muth moved in and asked her to marry him.
capitalising on his new wife’s standing, Muth perpetuated “a social ponzi scheme,” according to Foer:
“For parties, he would start with bait. He theorized that Drath’s ties to Nebraska’s representatives in Washington — Senator Chuck Hagel, in particular — would bring in other politicians. Muth would also approach military officials attached to the embassies, who he knew were often lonely figures in town; he understood that their attendance would help him attract foreign-policy columnists. “The whole Western alliance was represented,” according to Roland Flamini, a former Time correspondent.”
Muth established an illusory think tank called the Eminent Persons Group:
“His vision for the group was as grandiose as its name — he would bring together a collection of prestigious international thinkers to advise the U.N. secretary general. Among others, Muth enlisted the Pakistani cricket star (and now leading presidential candidate) Imran Khan and former defence Secretary Robert McNamara. A co-chairman of the group was former Prime Minister Michel Rocard of France. George Soros provided seed money. Although the E.P.G. didn’t quite fulfil Muth’s exalted mission, it occupied an important niche, campaigning against the proliferation of small arms, publishing well-researched reports and convening conferences in Washington and London.
For nearly a decade Muth was a prominent figure. But then Muth was arrested, accused of murdering Drath, and the whole thing unravelled.
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