Mr. Eugene Higgins
AMERICA’SFIRST NATIONALEPEE CHAMPION
Mr. Higgins is not only the richest but the handsomest unmarried New Yorker,” the account went on . “He is a devoted golfer, an expert cross-country rider, a’goodgun,’ a skillful fisherman and a yachtsman of no mean seamanship” and he won the American fencing championships in the duelling sword (epee) while representing the New York Athletic Club. He studied fencing in France with Mr. Ruze’. “Sartorially, he is all that can be desired.
He possessed a townhouse at Fifth Avenue and Thirty-fourth Street,(at the intersection that is now the Empire State Building) which was a mecca of high society, and a country home at Morristown,New Jersey. Columns and columns of newspaper space were devoted, before the turn of the century, to the Higgins establishments, his horses, his dogs and his schemes for entertaining the idle rich . It was said that he had “sumptuous pleasure campaigns” for his friends mapped out by the season, with no refinement overlooked.
He was an amateur enthusiast in physics and mathematics and, in 1921, donated a$ 5,000 prize in a contest arranged by The Scientific American for the best explanation of the Einstein theory of relativity. The award was won by L. Bolton, an English patent office clerk.
He was reported engaged to be married many times, but all the reports proved incorrect. Finally, in 1906, his name was linked with that of Emma Calve, the opera star. The reason for his celibacy was then given as a youthful love affair which had proved unhappy. Whatever it was, the same jinx continued to follow him, for he and Miss Calve were never married.
In 1908 Mr. Higgins was the subject of much publicity when his steam yacht, Varuna, the most up-to-date vessel of its kind, went ashore in the Madeira Islands. The yacht was a total wreck but Mr. Higgins and a party of friends from the New York Yacht Club were saved. Mr.Higgins afterward received a medal for life-saving in connection with the affair. In later years his name had not appeared in print. He got into a brush with customs officials here in 1910 over some undeclared clothing, since when nothing had been heard of him. A member of the lawfirm that handled his affairs in New York said that he had never married.
Mr. Higgins maintained a private office here at 50 Union Square East. He was a member of the Union Club, the Raquet and Tennis Club, Brook Club, Tuxedo Club, University Club, Metropolitan Club, NewYork Yacht Club, Jekyll Island Club, NewYork Fencers’ Club, the Saint Anthony Society, and the Sons of the American Revolution.