Naked archduke at Court supplier Sacher! A headline that is also good publicity

Cavalry sabre, c. 1900

Archduke Otto must have been the cause of some headaches for his father and probably the reason for even more angry outbursts; there is nothing against an Archduke letting his hair down – but in the full view of the public?

Cavalry sabre, c. 1900

Archduke Otto – the story goes that he was the most handsome Habsburg the Monarchy had ever seen – not only seems to have been very popular with the ladies but also to have provided both the press and the people with a great deal to talk about. In the course of one of his drinking sprees his companions locked him out of the salon, whereupon Otto hammered on the door, begging and pleading with them. What made the story scandalous was not the orgy in itself but the fact that apparently all that Otto was wearing was a sabre and, rumour had it, white gloves. The consequence was that Franz Joseph had the Archduke put under house arrest in a monastery. The scandalous scene took place in the hotel established behind the Court Opera House by Eduard Sacher, who had been a Court Supplier.

The hotel was not only popular with members of the imperial family but also a rendezvous for Viennese high society, which liked to go there after the performances in the Opera House across the street. The owner of the hotel, Anna Sacher, cultivated her social standing and had all her more or less famous patrons sign their names on a tablecloth, which she then embroidered. Links with the imperial family together with the publicity they brought were a special concern of hers and so she kept the centre of the tablecloth free so that it could be signed by Franz Joseph, whom she hoped to welcome as a guest. However, he never visited the hotel. Nevertheless she managed to obtain the imperial signature: Katharina Schratt, Franz Joseph’s long-standing ‘lady friend’, persuaded the emperor to sign a handkerchief, which she then gave to Anna Sacher.

It is not only in the case of the Hotel Sacher that the former links with the imperial family still continue to appeal to the public. Many of the former suppliers to the Imperial-Royal Court still exist nowadays. Many present-day firms and businesses use their history as former Court suppliers as the basis for successful marketing, for example by putting up portraits of Franz Joseph and Elisabeth in their premises and decorating their entrances with the title of Imperial-Royal Court Supplier. The logo used by a producer of sparkling wine is clearly reminiscent of the heraldic double-headed eagle, which Court Suppliers were allowed to use.

Christina Linsboth