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Basil Zaharoff

Zaharoff, Basil (Meurisse 1928) cropped.jpg
Basil Zaharoff in 1928
Born
Vasileios Zacharias

(1849-10-06)October 6, 1849
Died November 27, 1936(1936-11-27) (aged 87)
Nationality Ottoman, Greek, naturalised French
Occupation Arms dealer, industrialist
Known for Vickers
Nordenfelt submarine Abdülhamid
The Nordenfelt-class Ottoman submarine Abdül Hamid (1886) was the first submarine in history to fire a torpedo whilst submerged. Two submarines of this class, Nordenfelt II (Abdülhamid, 1886) and Nordenfelt III (Abdülmecid, 1887) joined the Ottoman fleet. They were built in pieces by Des Vignes (Chertsey) and Vickers (Sheffield) in England, and assembled at the Taşkızak Naval Shipyard in Istanbul, Turkey.
10BarrelNordenfeltGunInNavalAction
Sailor operating 10-barrel rifle calibre Nordenfelt gun, with right hand on lever

Basil Zaharoff, GCB, GBE (born Vasileios Zacharias; Greek: Βασίλειος Zαχαρίας Ζαχάρωφ; October 6, 1849 – November 27, 1936) was a Greek arms dealer and industrialist. One of the richest men in the world during his lifetime, Zaharoff was described as a "merchant of death" and "mystery man of Europe". His success was forged through his cunning, often aggressive and sharp, business tactics. These included the sale of arms to opposing sides in conflicts, sometimes delivering fake or faulty machinery and skilfully using the press to attack business rivals.

Zaharoff maintained close contacts with many powerful political leaders, including British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos and Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II; he likely served as a primary inspiration for Ian Fleming's fictional James Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

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