Archive for 2011-09-25


A ghost called Resurrection Mary haunts the city of Chicago. 

Mary’s ghost was sited by the cemetery

Mary has been sited at a local dance hall
In January of 1979, a Chicago cab driver stopped to pick up a female passenger at the front gates of Resurrection Cemetery, the final resting place of more than 150,000 souls.  But before he could let her in, the mysterious woman disappeared.  The cab driver had just met Chicago’s most famous ghost, Resurrection Mary.
Richard Crowe was a local historian and folklorist at the time of the sighting:
“I think that of all the ghost stories worth believing in, Resurrection Mary is the one with the best documentation.  The witnesses that I’ve found are remarkably level-headed.  And they’re primarily blue collar, middle-class types who have steady jobs and who have no other major claims to psychic encounters in their lives.”

Jerry Palus gave Mary’s ghost a ride home
As the story goes, the first person to ever encounter Resurrection Mary was Jerry Palus.  The year was 1939.  The place…a Chicago dance hall where Jerry was a regular.
Jerry was captivated by a young blonde woman and immediately asked her to dance.  He learned little about her, except that her name was Mary and she lived on the south side of town.  He danced with the young woman all night. When it was time to leave, Jerry offered Mary a ride home. 
Before his death in 1992, Jerry was interviewed about his encounter with Resurrection Mary.  He described the events of that evening:
“As we walked along to the street she says well you might as well take me down to Archer Road.  And I said what for?  I said you live up here where you told me.   And she says no I want to go out to Archer Road.”
Jerry stopped in front of Resurrection Cemetery and let Mary out of the car.  It was at that moment that she vanished before his eyes. Jerry admitted he was perplexed, but certainly willing to forgive one unexplained disappearance. 

Actual article about Mary Bregovy’s death
Still wanting to know more about the mysterious woman, the very next day Jerry drove to the house where Mary had said she lived.  Jerry found the house with little trouble.  The woman who answered the door was Mary’s mother.  When Jerry asked if he could see her daughter, the woman told him that Mary had been dead for five years.
According to Richard Crowe, it then dawned on Jerry that Mary was no ordinary woman:
“It’s then, Jerry said, that he understood why the woman he was dancing with that night was ice cold to the touch. He had worked in a funeral home for a while and it was the touch of a corpse.”
Years later, Richard Crowe learned the ghost was believed to be the restless spirit of a young woman named Mary Bregovy.  Mary Bregovy had been killed in a traffic accident in 1934, a month before her 21st birthday.  She was laid to rest in Resurrection Cemetery in her favorite white gown. 
Over the years, Resurrection Mary has been seen time and time again, at dance clubs, in taxis, and walking outside the cemetery, looking for someone to take her home.
In 1980, Clare Rudnicki was driving along the front of Resurrection Cemetery, when she too spotted Mary:
“I really didn’t think there was any ghost.  You hear these stories and these old ghost tales but it’s never happened to me.  But now I must say I think I’m changing my mind.
I was just looking out the window as we were going down the street.  And on the right hand-side of the road there was a girl walking.  She was bright, very bright, like illuminating.  She was just walking very slowly.  I remember thinking oh my god it’s Resurrection Mary.  And I can feel my stomach starting to turn.  I was very frightened, I have to admit.  It did scare me.”
Clare’s husband, Mark Rudnicki, was also in the car:
“We all went past it, turned around and came back and by the time we’d gotten back to where we’d originally seen her it had gone.  Vanished.” 
In October of 1989, Janet Kalal and a friend were out for an evening drive.  After about an hour, they found themselves at Resurrection Cemetery.  It was then, Janet recalled, that a pale young woman stepped in front of the car:
“There was no impact, there was no… bump to say that you know I had hit something.  But I know she ran out… and I hit her.  She was all in white and her hair and the dress were… flowing back.  It was like a stream backwards, you know away from her.  And I just saw this profile of a young woman.”
Does the ghost of Mary Bregovy really haunt Chicago? Or is Resurrection Mary just an urban myth?  In any case, should you find yourself driving in the city late one night and happen to spot a pale young woman in a flowing white gown, you might think twice about offering her a ride.

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A Filipino man finds a solid gold Buddha, then it’s stolen, possibly by Ferdinand Marcos.

Golden Buddha

Roger Roxas with Buddha

Roger uncovered treasue in underground tunnels
From 1965 to 1986, Ferdinand Marcos ruled the Philippines—first as an elected leader, then as a dictator.  By the time Marcos was deposed, his personal wealth was estimated at $10 billion.  Few dared to challenge Marcos publicly.  But on May 5, 1971, a man named Roger Roxas defied Marcos and went public with a daring accusation.  He accused the dictator’s soldiers of stealing a rare, solid gold Buddha worth millions. 
In 1970, Roger Roxas and his family lived 200 miles north of Manila on the Philippine island of Luzon.  On weekends, Roger spent his time treasure hunting with a large group of Filipinos.  One of Roger’s fellow treasure hunters was Albert Fuchigami.  Albert had been shown a treasure map by his father, who was an officer in the Japanese Army during World War II.  The map pinpointed the location of a secret tunnel system where the Japanese had left behind a fortune in gold bars.  Roger was confident his friend was telling the truth:
“We were friends for a long time before he told me that he knew of a hidden treasure.  He revealed to me what he knew about the tunnels.  I had very high hopes because Fuchigami was the son of a Japanese soldier.”

Ferdinand Marcos
Roger Roxas and Albert hired a crew to excavate the site.  In the first few minutes of digging, they found a layer of Japanese shrapnel.  A few weeks later, the crew broke through into the tunnels, which the Japanese had apparently dynamited shut.  The tunnel system was elaborate, complete with railroad tracks.  They found that one explosion had blocked all access to the main underground passageway.  Undaunted, they dug around it.  Roger Roxas was the first to enter:
“To my surprise, I found several Japanese skeletons.  There must have been more than 10.”
Roger had stumbled upon a forgotten tomb.  It was there, that he made a shocking discovery.  Sitting in the cavity was a large solid gold statue of Buddha.  Roger and Albert were stunned.  While their crew attempted to move the 2,000 pound Buddha, the two explorers ventured further inside the tunnel.  Just as the map had predicted, there were boxes and boxes of solid gold bars.  Roxas and Fuchigami decided to dynamite the tunnel to hide the treasure.  They planned to sell the Buddha to buy trucks and equipment so they could comeback and get the gold out of the tunnel.

Roger with Buddha, head removed
Roger took the Buddha home.  A potential buyer confirmed that the Buddha was solid gold.  After the buyer left, Roger and his brother decided to take a closer look at the Buddha.  Roger had noticed that the buyer paid particular attention to the Buddha’s neck:
“My brother and I had a suspicion that there was an opening inside the Buddha. We got a piece of wood and we hit the Buddha several times with this piece of wood.”
According to Roger, there were handfuls of diamonds inside the Buddha.  Some were rough-cut and some fine.  Roger hid the diamonds in a closet.  That night, Roger’s brother took pictures of Roger with the Buddha.  Roger thought the pictures might protect him, but he was wrong.  News of his discovery had already spread all the way to the President’s palace in Manila. 
Although the Philippines was a democracy, Ferdinand Marcos, along with his wife, Imelda, ruled like a king with an iron hand and brute force.  Two months after Roger brought the Buddha home, soldiers invaded his house.  The red ribbons on their rifles indicated that they were members of President Marcos’ elite Palace Guard.  Then out of nowhere, the potential buyer appeared.  Roger had been double-crossed:
“They took everything, even the piggy banks of my children. Whatever my wife inherited, all her jewelry, all the diamonds in the closet.  They took all of it. If we had fought back, they would just have killed us.”
The next day, Roger and his brothers reported the incident to the local police.  Then he went to visit Judge Pio Marcos, a family friend:
“I told him, judge, why did you let them confiscate my treasure, we’re friends.  He said, Roger there is nothing that I can do.  I said why?  He said because the prince asked for it.  I said who’s the prince.  And he said the prince, President Marcos.”
According to Roger, the judge warned him that Marcos had put a price on his head.  Roger and his family fled to an isolated jungle village to hide.
While Roger remained secluded, Filipino  reporters had already gotten a hold of the story.  Marcos allowed the press to view the Buddha.  But his political opponents felt that Marcos had substituted a fake.  They wanted to embarrass Marcos, so they tracked down Roger and convinced him to return to Manila to identify the Buddha.  Marcos was outraged.  Once again, Roger went into hiding.  But according to Roger, two weeks later he was tracked down by the Palace Guard:
“Three men approached me and pointed their guns at me.  They knew me.  They told me Roger, come with us in the car, we will bring you to Manila.  I could not escape.  I couldn’t escape.  I knew they were soldiers.  They had guns.  They called the palace and they were speaking English.  I knew that it was Marcos they were talking to because they addressed him as Mr. President.  Marcos must have asked them, are you sure it is Roger Roxas that you captured.  And they said yes, we’re sure.”
The soldiers locked Roger in a hotel and tortured him until he signed a paper stating that he was paid off to lie about the Buddha.  The soldiers also wanted Roger to tell them where the gold was hidden.  He was tortured daily for several weeks.  But Roger had no intentions on telling the soldiers anything:
“I made a promise to Mr. Fuchigami. I told him even if they to kill me, I will not tell them where the tunnel is.”
Eventually, Roger was allowed to see his family:
“My wife was crying.  She was surprised.  And she said what is happening to you.  You know they might kill you.  And I said just pray, and then the soldiers took me again.”
After the brief visit with his family, Roger was taken back to the same hotel where he had been tortured.  But this time, he managed to escape through a window in the restroom.  After fleeing the hotel, Roger Roxas went into hiding.  He never saw the golden Buddha again.
At least two witnesses claim to have seen the Buddha at one of Marcos’ summer palaces.  Ferdinand Marcos died in 1989, but rumors persist that his family still has the golden Buddha.
Roger Roxas filed a civil suit to recover the Buddha.  But on the day he was set to testify, Roxas collapsed and died.   Some reports blame a heart attack, but others allege foul play.  The Roxas family has continued legal action against the Marcos estate but the case has been tied up in the court system for more than a decade.


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Leonardo Da Vinci

Discovery of a New Selfportrait of Leonardo da Vinci!

(This image can now be found in colour at the National Gallery in Washington.)
In the course of my research for the book "Who is Mona Lisa? In search of her identity" I investigated not only the coat of arms, specific symbols or emblems and colours used by the different Italian dynasties of the 15th and 16th century, but also the hundreds of books of plates in which one can find the wonderful portraits from this epoch. Because over 95% of these portraits are unsigned, undated and give no information about the person depicted, art historians will make mistakes (and have made mistakes) when attributing a portrait to a painter, year or subject.
The new portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, which was painted between 1475 and 1480 and can be found in Washington, The National Gallery of Art, was wrongly attributed to the Italian painter Cariani († 1547), because Cariani used the same kind of background for his portraits. Cariani probably knew this particular painting and was inspired by the great master, although his skill was not comparable to that of Leonardo da Vinci. The latter is in his self-portrait not only dressed like the people of that time (those who could afford it), we also know that he was very interested in the study of drapery in the 70s of the 15th century. So, in this portrait you see in the background not only a look out of the window, you also see a wall upon which a cloth is showing his great interest in the study of drapery. By the way, it probably was customary for the pupils of Andrea del Verrocchio to paint a self-portrait. We also have self-portraits of Pietro Perugino († 1523) and Lorenzo di Credi († 1537).
Fig. 2: Portraits of Leonardo da Vinci
In the paintings of Figure 2 you can see what Leonardo da Vinci looks like. These portraits were painted by Leonardo da Vinci`s master Andrea del Verrocchio († 1488), co-workers of his master like Botticelli († 1510) and Francesco Botticini († 1498), and his own friends and/or students.

Fig. 3: Leonardo's grandfather Antonio da Vinci
The drawing (Figure 3), which is regarded to be a self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, is certainly not a portrait of the great master. It depicts a very old man. Leonardo da Vinci didn’t have the fortune to reach this age. The drawing in fact depicts Leonardo’s grandfather Antonio da Vinci (1373-1469). Some art historians instead made the ridiculous assumption that Leonardo da Vinci must have aged very quickly. The contemporaries of the great master described his looks very precisely, but they didn’t mention this phenomenon. In the following book „Leonardo - des Meisters Gemälde und Zeichnungen in 360 Abbildungen. Reihe: Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben. 37. Bd. Stuttgart und Berlin 1931“ you find the remark (on page 398) that this portrait was definitely made at the beginning of the 90s of the 15th century. Leonardo was at that time not even 40 years old. The great painter made some further drawings of his father and/or his uncle Francesco (Figure 4, Figure 5, Figure 6, Figure 7 and Figure 8)

Fig. 4: Ser Piero da Vinci

Fig. 5: Francesco da Vinci with the protruding lower lip characteristic for his family

Fig. 6: Ser Piero da Vinci

Fig. 7: Francesco da Vinci (drawing by Leonardo da Vinci)

Fig. 8: Ser Piero da Vinci (drawing by Leonardo da Vinci)
Fig. 9: The little white dog [large image]
However, not only is the similarity of the person in Figure 1 with the other portraits of Leonardo striking, there is further indication that this person is the great master himself: The little white dog, which was either Leonardo’s dog or the dog of his master Andrea del Verrocchio († 1488). A little white dog can also be seen in the painting “Tobias and the angel” (Figure 9, left picture, and middle picture detail), which was made in the school of Andrea del Verrocchio. The dog in this painting was depicted by Leonardo da Vinci according to the art historian David Alan Brown (see his book: Leonardo da Vinci – Origin of a genius. New Haven and London 1998). This little dog can also be seen in the painting “Tobias and the three angels” of a co-worker of Andrea del Verrocchio, Francesco Botticini. The dog can be found on the left side of the Archangel Michael, who is nobody else than Leonardo da Vinci himself.
Leonardo was said to have had a big heart for animals. His contemporaries described how he liked to go to the markets and buy little birds in tiny little cages. He then went outside of the cities to open their cages and give them back their freedom. In his household there were always a lot of dogs and cats to be found. There are numerous drawings made by the great master that show them jumping and rolling. Leonardo also avoided to eat meat, at least as an elderly man.
When viewing the countryside through the window of this portrait painting, you can see the beautiful landscape of the Mugello with its hills and mountains. Not far in the distance you can discover the township of Fiesole. That is where the rich Florentine citizens, including one uncle of Leonardo da Vinci, had their summer houses, and where they spent the unbearably hot summer months. When Leonardo visited Florence, he often lived with his uncle. Nearby, on Monte Ceceri, he carried out his famous flight experiments.
Could it be that this new portrait of Leonardo da Vinci is the same portrait mentioned by Giorgio Vasari in his famous book “Lives of seventy of the most eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects”, published in 1568, when he speaks about Francesco Melzi, the beloved pupil and heir of Leonardo da Vinci: “… (Francesco Melzi) a Milanese gentleman, who, in the time of Leonardo, was a child of remarkable beauty, much beloved by him, and is now a handsome and amiable old man, who sets great store by these drawings, and treasures them as relics, together with the portrait of Leonardo of blessed memory.” (in: Giorgio Vasari: Lives of seventy of the most eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, edited and annotated by E.H. and E.W. Blashfield and A.A. Hopkins. Vol. II. London 1897, S. 392)


1: All historical sources are telling us that Leonardo da Vinci painted his portraits, paintings and beautiful portrait drawings with the right hand. There is no indication that he was left-handed. However he was better with his left hand than the normal right-handed person. For example, Leonardo sometimes wrote his documents in mirror-writing with his left hand. But he never painted with his left hand! The main historical source for this fact is Antonio de' Beatis who was the secretary of the Cardinal Luigi d' Aragona and who paid with his master a visit to Leonardo da Vinci on 10th October 1517. Luckily for us historians he used to write down everything – really everything – in his diary: „On the 10th of October 1517, Monsignor (the Cardinal Luigi d'Aragona) and the rest of us went to see, in one of the outlying parts of Amboise, Messer Leonardo da Vinci the Florentine... the most eminent painter of our time, who showed to his Eminence the Cardinal three pictures; one of a certain Florentine lady (Pacificia Brandano or Isabella Gualanda), painted from life, at the instance of the late Giuliano de' Medici; the other of the youthful St. John the Baptist; and the third of the Madonna and the Child in the lap of St. Anne, the most perfect of them all. One cannot indeed expect any more good work from him, as a certain paralysis has crippled his right hand. But he has a pupil, a Milanese, who works well enough. And although Messer Leonardo can no longer paint with the sweetness which was peculiar to him, he can still design and instruct others....“ (in: Ludwig Goldscheider: Leonardo da Vinci. London and New York 1944 (second edition), page 20).
2: Do you want to see Leonardo da Vinci as an old man, then have a look at the following figures: Fig. 10 and 10a. Albrecht Dürer jun., who was a great admirer of Leonardo da Vinci and who saw him the last time in 1506, made him immortal as apostle Paul in his famous painting „The four apostles“: Fig. 11. Another self-portrait of the great painter depicting him as an elderly man can be seen in Fig. 12.
Fig. 10: Leonardo da Vinci
Fig. 10a: Leonardo da Vinci

Fig. 11: The four apostles: Melanchthon as apostle John, Galeazzo da Sanseverino as apostle Petrus, Martin Luther as apostle Marcus and Leonardo da Vinci as apostle Paul (from the left to the right) – Leonardo da Vinci lends his facial features to the apostle Paul who has a half-bald head; this doesn't mean that Leonardo da Vinci has also a half-bald head. If you want to know, how Leonardo looked like as an old man, then have a look at Fig. 10

Fig. 12: Leonardo da Vinci and Isabella of Aragon as two apostles in the famous Fresco of the great painter: The Last Supper
More images of Leonardo on his family tree page.

I wrote the following open letter to the National Gallery of Art in Washington on 6. August 2007:

Dear Mr. Hand,
regarding the following two further portraits at the National Gallery of Art:
“A Young Woman and her little Boy”
“Portrait of a Man with a Dog” I feel compelled to write to you again.
The first painting “A young woman and her little boy” shows the eldest legitimate daughter of Cosimo de’ Medici and his wife Eleonora of Toledo, Maria de’ Medici (1540-1557), and her little brother Antonio (1544-1548). The painting was made around 1557. Please have a look at my family-tree of the Medici in Pictures, which is already used in the Medici Archives and the Medici Project in Florence.
As I mentioned to you before, there is no problem to assign the portraits of the members of the high nobility to the respective members of the dynasties, once you have familiarized yourself with the history of the costume, the dynasties themselves and their emblems and symbols.
Regarding the second painting, “Portrait of a Man with a Dog”, wrongly attributed to Cariani, I have written many e-mails to your Gallery since 2004, but I never received an answer. Dear Mr. Hand, you may not be aware of it, but let me assure you, the National Gallery of Art is in possession of the only known self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci! It is a pity that this painting has disappeared in your archives and does not receive the attention it deserves.
I wonder why that is. Who is responsible for the false attribution of this painting to Cariani? What facts is it based upon? I would like to challenge that person for a discussion on that attribution. I know I am right and I can prove it. I can provide a large number of facts and not just speculations which make it clear that the depicted is the great Leonardo himself. Please note that for a serious discussion on this matter it is essential to be familiar with the history of the costume, the history of the Renaissance and their dynasties, especially the Visconti and Sforza in Milan, the life of Leonardo da Vinci and the emblems and symbols of the high nobility in Italy.
Please, read the following article regarding this painting of yours on my website.
Kind regards, Maike Vogt-Luerssen

8. August 2007: I received a first answer by Mr. Hand:

„Dear Maike Vogt-Luerssen,
Thank you for your e-mail. I have forwarded it to our curator of Italian paintings, David Alan Brown, who will, I hope, soon answer you.“

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