Lord Alfred

lordalfred1280bLord Alfred F. Bee was born in New Jersey, as just Alfred Frederick Bee. He bought a very famous castle in Exeter England by the name of Rougemont Castle. Then he decided he needed a title, so he bought one of those too. You can buy a title in England too. Or for that matter get it for free if you are willing to do the paperwork and file it with the HM Land Registry. You have to look up the records to see that there isn’t already a Baron, Lord, Sir, Laird, Count, Earl, Viscount, Duke, Marquess, and so on, by that name. If you go through one of the Internet sites that “sells” titles, they supposedly do the research for you.

Lord Alfred had a pure bred Straffordshire dog he named Churchill, oblivious to the fact it angered the local residents that he’d name his dog after one of the country’s greatest heroes. He chose the breed because it sounded British. The residents of Exeter play along, calling him Lord Alfred, but are snickering behind his back at his “puttin’ on airs”. They play along because tourist are the primary basis of the town’s economy, and up until now they couldn’t visit the Rougemont Castle. For that matter most of the locals had not been past its gates unless they had business with the Devon courts. So they expected it being opened, to drastically improve the economy.

The Castle was mentioned in Shakespeare’s play Richard III. It got its name from the elevated position where the original Norman edifice was built by order of William the Conqueror in 1068. There isn’t much from the original Norman building except some walls that form a bailey around the courtyard and the gatehouse, which is the earliest surviving piece of Norman castle architecture in all of England. The gatehouse, walls, and dungeons are grade 1 historic monuments, and the rest of the castle is a grade 2 monument. This means you can’t change or tear down the history of England without official permission. As part of the purchase agreement, Lord Alfred Bee agreed to open a portion of the castle to tourists, and allow certain ceremonies to be conducted on the grounds. This played perfectly into his ego, which was as expansive as the 42,000 square feet of interior room.

For the past thousand years, the building has functioned as the home of the County Devon judiciary and courts. So it has been well maintained and in many cases modernized without changing the historical flavor of the building. Most castles you can buy in Europe are in great disrepair, and though they might have forty bedrooms, there may be only two bathrooms. It would be up to Lord Alfred how he converted offices and courtrooms into bedrooms and ballrooms. He just couldn’t move the walls.

Alfred picked up this historic piece of England’s past for a measly 1.3 million pounds, which works out to be a cool $2,568,167 U.S. Dollars. He had made his money on what wasn’t much more than an Internet scam. He sold “how to” books and virtual space in his virtual online shopping mall. As if that wasn’t enough, he also sold wholesale items to the “tenants” of his online mall. To make the deal sweeter, if they sold a “shop” to someone else, they got a percentage of that person’s income, which was usually nothing. This was all promoted through hour-long infocommercials with famous stars and even sponsored an Olympic athlete.

He was slick about how he did it. He sold the “How to make a million on the Internet” book for three to five thousand dollars. If he had tried to sell the virtual stores, there was no real property and he could have gotten shut down. But he could sell the book for as much as he wanted, if people were willing to pay for it. Getting those same “rubes” to sell other stores for a percentage was classified as sales commission rather than the downline of a pyramid scheme. What ended up sinking them in the end, was an eleborate scheme of shuffling people wanting a refund from one department to another and never returning the money. Most of the upper level staff was caught and arrested, but Alfred managed to escape the country before that happened.

Alfred wasn’t his real name, and even though Rougemont Castle recently went up for sale, it wasn’t that castle he bought, nor England he escaped to. I came to know this person because I was the one who programmed and made famous a certain online shopping mall. It was one of the 100 busiest shopping malls on the Web at that time. He bought the mall because it was famous, and I was supposed to go to work for him because it was my brain-child. Even though his organization had beautiful offices and hundreds of employees, and his offer to me was a rich one, something didn’t feel right. I declined and am glad that I did. The Olympic athlete wasn’t part of the operation other than a hired announcer, so he dodged the bullet. I did go on to create a Web site for him.