THIS LETTER WAS WRITTEN AT NEARLY THE SAME TIME OF HIS GREATEST FAILURE AND HIS MOST FAMOUS SUCCESS: THE FEBRUARY 4, 1889, LIQUIDATION OF THE PANAMA CANAL CONSTRUCTION COMPANY: A COLOSSAL AND DISASTROUS PROJECT THAT WOULD LEAD TO HIS OWN INDICTMENT FOR FRAUD ALONGSIDE FERDINAND DE LESSEPS, AND A SENTENCE OF TWO YEARS IN PRISON, EVEN THOUGH NOTHING COULD REALLY BE BLAMED ON HIM PERSONALLY. IT WAS ALSO JUST ONE MONTH BEFORE THE COMPLETION OF THE EIFFEL TOWER BUILT FOR THE 1889 UNIVERSAL EXPOSTION IN PARIS. HE WOULD SOON WITHDRAW FROM BUSINESS AND DEVOTE THE FINAL THIRTY YEARS OF HIS LIFE IN A FRUITFULL CREER AS A SCIENTIST.
GUSTAVE EIFFEL (1832-1923) LETTER SIGNED, “G. Eiffel”, on his 60 Rue de Prony letterhead, 4 x 5, 21 February 1889,[Paris], to “Mr. Titford, London”, by the French civil engineer most famous for the World Famous Eiffel Tower, built for the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris and his contributions in the building of the ingenious structure of Statue of Liberty in New York City. Eiffel’s engineering company was selected by Auguste Bartholdi to build the Statue of Liberty because of their experience with wind stresses. The entire statue was erected at the Eiffel works in Paris before being dismantled and shipped to the United States. Less known was his agreement to build the locks of the Panama Canal, an immense undertaking badly managed by Ferdinand De Lesseps, which ended in the biggest financial scandal of the century. This was the biggest contract in his entire career in business. Even though nothing could be blamed on him personally he was indicted for fraud, convicted, sentenced to prison (the ruling was later annulled). With his honor and dignity severely compromised, he withdrew from business. The letter is in French, translation in full, thanking for a token of sympathy, most likely regarding Eiffel’s recent financial scandal: “Sir, I am grateful for the statement of sympathy that you shared with me and I would be happy if it were shared by your compatriots. I offer you my highest regards.” In fine condition, with minor faint scattered age toning, small tape remnant on upper edge of the reverse, and chipped lower corner.