The Potockis

Alfred I Potocki (1786-1862) left his mark on in the history of Lancut by making the estate a single legacy, preventing the property from being split up. From then on the family wealth was indivisible, and could be inherited only by the eldest son. Alfred II's neglect of Lancut was more than made up for by his son Roman (1851-1915), who funded the last modernisation of the palace.
Painting: Alfred I Potocki
Painting: Roman Potocki, Pastel

Photo: Alfred III Potocki, the last heir in the tale of Lancut

He was a passionate gambler, blessed with extraordinary luck at cards. It was said that the emperor himself ordered him to stop gambling because the number of Austrian aristocrats who had been cleaned out playing baccarat was beginning to pose a threat to the monarchy . . .  

The last inheritor of Lancut, Alfred III (1886-1958), was one of the richest people in Europe. An Oxford graduate, in his youth he made many journeys abroad, during which he met many outstanding personalities.
In his diaries he mentions an audience with Pope Pius X, balls at the Schwarzenbergs and Furstenbergs in Vienna, receptions at Buckingham Palace, tennis with Gloria Swanson, lunch with King Carol of Rumania, friendship with Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, visiting President Roosevelt and hunting with Georges Clemenceau and Marshal Petain.
During a trip around the word he had an audience with the Dalai Lama, and was presented to the emperor of Japan. He was an avid hunter. His trophies from the Sudan can be seen on the walls of the Carriage House. Among the many guests who passed though the Lancut palace during his times were Archduke Franz Ferdinand, George Duke of Kent, and Joachim Ribbentrop. 

During the occupation, Alfred III saved many Lancut residents from being taken to Germany, employing them in the palace under the pretext of providing better service to the Nazi army staff quartered there. He also funded the operation of a free kitchen which served meals to four hundred people daily. After he abandoned Lancut on July 23, 1944, he resided in Vienna, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. He died in Geneva on March 30, 1958.