The Rothschilds kept their fortune within the family by repeated endogamous marriages. When Hélène wed a non-Jewish outsider, her mother, Adèle de Rothschild-von Rothschild, cut her daughter — who was already a woman of fortune, owing to the inheritance from her late father — out of her will. Étienne’s relatives did not look on the match with a friendly eye either, because he married outside the Catholic faith, and Hélène was from an upstart noble family that had been ennobled only three generations before her, while the Van Zuylens commended themselves for having joined the Crusades. (On an unrelated note, it was Adèle who donated Wilhelm Tischbein’s well-known painting Goethe in the Roman Campagna to the Städel Museum in 1887.)
De Haar is basically a private hotel, designed to entertain private guests. Étienne & Hélène were fervent party-givers, as was their grandson Thierry (‘Teddy’), whose guest lists included Coco Chanel, Georges Pompidou, Gregory Peck, Maria Callas, Roger Moore, who learned how to ride a bicycle at De Haar, Michael Caine, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren & Yves Saint Laurent.
Hard to imagine that our omnipotent hero Bond, James Bond, didn’t know how to ride a bicycle.
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Other fine fake castles are Pierrefonds Castle in Northern France, Neuschwanstein Castle in the Bavarian Alps, and Drachenburg Castle, near Bonn. Pierrefonds, by architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, may be regarded as the mother of all Gothic Revival castles, but it is not as opulent as De Haar Castle or the two German ones.