André Citroen, owner of France’s biggest car manufacture made no secret of his high rolling gaming antics at his local casino.
Throughout his life Citroen, loved to mix with the rich and famous and when mixing with the rich and famous he loved nothing more than to gamble some of his vast fortune.
Citroen’s favourite casino was called the Deuville and was always packed with glamorous people with whom Citroen loved to rub shoulders with. He once commented, “I am not the least interested in the game nor whether I win or loose. I am only interested in whether the amount [I gamble with] is large enough to be noticed.” A flagrant self-publicist, Citroen was obsessed with attracting as much attention form other wealthy casino members as possible. He so enjoyed the company of attractive women that he managed to get the Deuville to reverse their rule that only men should be allowed to play at the private baccarat room. He did this by arranging for his wife to gate-crash the saloon and to plead with Nico Zographos, the banker in the game, to stop her husband from going on after the ruinous losses he had suffered that evening.
In his heyday (and to his delight) Citroens’ gambling exploits regularly made headline news in France. He need only to enter a casino with other famous players such as Paderewski or Aga Kahnto to have every detail of his game and the amount of his winnings or losses to be written about in every newspaper or glossy magazine in Central Europe. He was famed for being one of the few gamblers in Europe who could raise the casino bank to any limit he wished. The fascination the European press had with André Citroen’s gambling habits inadvertently provided one long stream of free advertising for his company name and cars.
For a man who enjoyed so much publicity throughout his life, Citroen received little when he died in 1935. One obituary gave him less than one inch column space and attributed his eventual business downfall to “gambling on the success of that most foolish of inventions, the front wheel drive.” The front wheel drive was the only gamble of Citroen’s to ever gain him bad publicity.