The Louis Le Prince Disappearance

The Louis Le Prince Disappearance

To most, the earliest pioneers of motion picture camera technology are the Lumiére Brothers and Thomas Edison.

But, the genius who took the earliest surviving motion picture never seems to get mentioned in the same breath…despite his story being a lot more interesting…

In this article we will be taking a look at the mysterious Louis Le Prince disappearance and the theories behind his sudden departure from this world…

The Single-Lens Camera Demonstration

Le Prince was booked to showcase his single-lens camera in America in September 1890. It would have been the very first time his awesome technology and the art he shot would be displayed to the public.

His journey started with a short visit to his brother in Dijon, France on the 13th of September.

He then went on to Paris on the 16th where he was due to depart and make his way across the Atlantic…but he never made it to Paris.

When his train arrived in the Paris station he was not on board, but numerous eye-witnesses claimed to have seen him get on the train and get settled.

Le Prince’s disappearance made headlines for obvious reasons – this man was going to be revealed as a genius in America.

Scotland Yard and the French authorities got involved but turned up nothing – it was as if the man disappeared into thin air. In 1897, he was declared dead, even though there was no body to back this up!

The Single-Lens Camera Demonstration

What Happened?

So what happened to this talented inventor and why did he disappear so close to his appointment with fame?

Let’s take a look at some of the conspiracy theories that surround the mysterious Louis Le Prince disappearance…

Theory One: Suicide

This theory originated from Le Prince’s brother’s grandson, apparently the man was in a financial mess at the time and wanted to end all the worry.

However, the very historian he told that to has evidence that Le Prince’s business was doing well.

Theory Two: His Sexuality

A French film history book released in 1966, by Jacques Deslandes, claims that Le Prince was forced to disappear by his family because he was gay.

Friends close to his family apparently admitted that he could have fled to Chicago where he died around the 1898 period.

A simple enough explanation to his disappearance…but unfortunately there is no evidence whatsoever to back these claims up!

Theory Three: He Drowned

Historians came across a photograph of a French drowning victim that dated back to 1890 in 2003. Although many believe this is a completely plausible theory…it doesn’t really explain his missing luggage…does it?

Theory Four: Murder

This seems to be the most popular conspiracy theory of the lot – maybe the genius inventor was murdered by either his brother…or the competition.

What competition?

Well, Thomas Edison, who had a long history of taking credit for other people’s inventions.

The world-famous Edison actually attempted to claim that he was the sole inventor of the process of cinematography shortly after Le Prince’s death.

He even won the case…but it was overturned a year later.

Edison was after royalties – he created the case to make sure he received some sort of payment whenever people used motion picture cameras.

It was Le Prince’s son Adolphe, who opposed Edison in court, and eventually stopped him in his tracks.

The Disappearance of Louis Le Prince

It’s worth noting that Le Prince’s son, Adolphe, was found shot to death while duck hunting in New York just two years after the Edison court case…he was 29 years of age.

If you have any thoughts or opinions on the subject we have covered here today, please leave them in the comment section below.

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