the biggest jigsaw puzzle in history
November 10, 2015 2:02 PM   Subscribe

When the stones finally made it to the Bronx warehouse, Hearst realized he had yet another administrative catastrophe on his hands—the workers repacked the stones without returning them to their original wooden crates. The crates had departed from Spain with an identifying number and a compass direction on each crate, so that the 10,571 pieces of monastery could be reconstructed. Now that blueprint was completely, irrevocably gone. Hearst was the overwhelmed owner of what Time magazine christened “the biggest jigsaw puzzle in history.” -- In The Early 1900s, Robber Barons Bought Dozens Of Centuries-Old European Buildings. Where Is Medieval America Now?.
posted by steinwald (7 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
There's a French chapel Hearst bought to be taken apart and rebuild on his grounds, burst while it was coming over the market crashed so now most of the building is still in storage somewhere.

I forget who it was, possibly J.P Morgan, but when everyone was importing venitan plazzos to Flordia in the 20s, he was asked why he didn't and he replied "I don't buy used."

(Wait probably not Morgan, thier collection of art formed the basis of the Metropolian Musuem)
posted by The Whelk at 2:14 PM on November 10, 2015

I was not prepared for that deeply unsettling portrait of Hearst a few pages in. Was that taken immediately before or after he ate a baby?
posted by indubitable at 2:22 PM on November 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

Interesting read. It reminds me of what happened in the 80s when Americans feared that the Japanese were buying up all the important properties in the US.

Also, spoiler alert for the end of the article...

Britney Spears was a bridesmaid!
posted by JiffyQ at 2:39 PM on November 10, 2015

When I moved to San Francisco back in the 90's I kept seeing what looked like gothic carved stones lying hither and yon in Golden Gate Park. I later learned that it was Hearst's chapel abandoned to nature. Now it's mostly all gone. To be rebuilt near Chico.
posted by njohnson23 at 2:55 PM on November 10, 2015

The kicker is, there was no reason to do any of this. There were plenty of builders and stone masons and architects who could deliver this kind of thing in America, and cheaper. (Think American college architecture.)

Lure of the artifact, never to be discounted.
posted by BWA at 3:55 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Somewhere, a young David Xanatos reads this article and gets an idea.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:10 PM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

Hearst never ate babies, he had people to do that for him.
posted by ckape at 4:23 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

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