Podcast/The Lost Rings

From LostRing

Jump to: navigation, search

[edit] Eli Hunt - Thelostgames.com - Podcasts


[edit] The Lost Rings

  • Watch the podcast at thelostgames.com
  • Watch the podcast at dotSUB
  • Downloadable slides are included in the transcript below
The 1920 tax records for the city of Antwerp might not seem like the most exciting place to begin a story about a priceless work of art that's been missing for nearly a century
[onscreen] The Legend of The Lost Rings With Historian Eli Hunt.
But history is a science of details. Sometimes you don't have much to go on, and even the tiniest fact can be a crucial piece of the puzzle. Sometimes you think you can see the whole picture, and the one little detail changes everything. In this case, the details are a ceremony in 1920 that didn't happen and a statue made in Antwerp that never existed. I'm Eli Hunt, and this is the legend of the Lost Rings.
Antwerp, in 1920, was a city in repair. Like much of Belgium, it saw heavy fighting during the Great War, but things were starting to rebound. The war was over, trade was returning to the city's ports, and athletes from around the world were about to converge on Antwerp for the games of the seventh modern Olympiad. It was at the Antwerp games that the Olympic logo of five interlocked rings was scheduled to debut. The logo was designed in 1913 and approved in 1914, but because of the war, there were no games until Antwerp. And in fact, the logo was the very reason I found myself, eighty-five years later, in the city's tax archives.

Several years earlier, I'd come across an intriguing article in an old copy of the Gazet of Antwerpen, a daily Belgian newspaper. A small feature story in the February 24, 1920 edition announced that a group of donors planned to present IOC President Pierre de Coubertin with a metal sculpture replica of his logo at the games. Curious to see a photograph of the sculpture, I searched dozens of news archives for a follow-up story. But I couldn't find a single reference in that paper, or any other periodical, that such an event ever tool place. I got curious, and before long I was in Antwerp looking for answers.

What I found were more questions. Tax records for a prominent artist named Hendrik van Waalen indicate that he was contracted to create five interlocking rings, and that he purchased the necessary materials. It even seems he was paid 406,500 francs for his work. Howver, there's no further information about who his clients were, and there is no evidence that the work was ever delivered, or even completed. In fact, the work order itself has the word "perdu" written across it, --
[onscreen] perdu
which is French for "lost". What could this mean? Did he lose the job? If so, why was he paid? And if not, what became of the five metal rings? I had to know more.
I started asking around among dealers in sculpture and metalwork. Hendrik van Waalsen was well-known in Belgium at the time for his detailed work, and while obscure today, his name is still respected among collectors of fine craftmanship. In fact, the sculpture is perhaps the most enduring legacy, evem though I could not find a single person who had seen it. And more than one dealer I spoke to referred to the sculpture as the Lost Rings.

One art historian at a New York auction house told me the story as it's been passed down through the trade. According to the legend, van Waalen was contracted by an anonymous client to create the sculpture. It was never intended for presentation to de Coubertin. But as excitement for the games mounted in the city, a writer of the Gazet saw van Waalen's work-in-progress and asked about it. Van Wallen, reluctant to talk about the rings, asked his client, and the client instructed him to give the writer the false story that I had stumbled on decades later. Shortly thereafter, van Wallen declared the sculpture officially "lost," and the supposed presentation was forgotten.

About the sculpture itself, this much is known - it was composed of five interlocked rings, cast in metal. Supposedly they were not welded together, but rather, they could be detached one from another and put back together easily. It is also understodd that they were engraved with some kind of message, though no one is clear on waht that message might have been. It is speculated that van Waalen did in fact complete the rings, and that they were delivered to the client, whoever he or she was. It's also believed that they may still exist in one form or another, either separately or together, in private collections.
One dealer even told me of a Danish man who came to his office claiming to have information about the whereabouts of a work of craftmanship that he called the "Sixth Ring." It was soon clear that the man was referring to Hendrik van Waalen's interlocked rings, but the fact that the man didn't know the peics's proper name or the number of rings in the sculpture was enough to convince the dealer that the story was fiction, and that whtever peice he might have seen, it most certainly was not The Lost Rings. But I'm not so sure. Perhaps the logo and its metal counterpart are hiding a secret - a secret that the Danish collector understood.

Who was Hendik van Waalen's client? Why would they instruct him to lie to a journalist? How was the sculpture "lost?" And why the discrepancy in its name? Was there actually a sixth ring designed as part of the commision?
I'va asked all the dealers I've spoken to what they would do if they found the rings. All of them said they could sell them instantly, and frome their tone, I presume they would bring a high price. I've asked who would buy the rings. Again the asnwer has been the same. All they will tell me is, "collectors."

We may never know if Hendrik van Waalen's mysterious lost work ever really existed. But if it did, it is certain that even as I speak now, those "collectors" are doing everything they can to find it. And perhaps only when they suceed will we learn the truth about the lost rings and the secrets they were designed to keep.
[onscreen] www.TheLostgames.com

[edit] Slide details

[edit] Newspaper

Een nog onbekende liefdadigheidschinstelling heeft opdracht gegeven voor het vervaardigen van een metalen beeld in gelijkenis van het op de komende Zomer Spelen te introduceeren officiele symbool. De Antwerpsche ijzersmid Hendrik van Waalen bevestigde de opdracht enkele maanden geleden ontvangen te hebben, maar wilde niet meer vrij laten dan "Wij wensen oprichter van het International Comité hiermee te eeren voor zijn bijdrage aan wereldvrede."

Het symbool dat met de Zomer Spelen van dit jaar geintroduceerd zal worden bestaat uit vijf geschakelde ringen die de vijf wereld delen als één vereenigde wereld uitbeelden; een verenigde wereld waarin elk uitsluitend ten strijde gaat in sportieve competitie. Of de ringen in het beeld aan elkaar gesmeed worden is onduidelijk. Dhr. Van Waalen liet enkel vallen dat elke ring een inscriptie krijgt. Over de inscripties zelf zei Dhr. Van Waalen slechts "Het is de wens van mijn opdrachtgevers om de teksten ter verrassing te bewaren."

De oprichter van de spelen was de sleutelpersoon voor het in 1894 in ere herstellen der spelen uit de klassieke oudheid, bijna 2000 jaar nadat deze buiten de wet gesteld werden door de Griekse keizer Theodosius. Hij ontwierp het symbool al in 1913, maar politieke de consequenties van de Groote Oorlog hebben de introductie vertraagd tot de komende Zomer Spelen. Het Internationaal Comité zegt geen verband te hebben met de opdracht voor het beeld.

English translation by Canzonett:


A still unknown charity organisation has commissioned the production of a metal sculpture in resemblance of the offical symbol that is to be introduced during the upcoming Summer Games. Iron Smith Hendrik van Waalen from Antwerp confirmed to have received the order some months ago, but didn't want to tell more than "With this, we wish to honour the founder of the International Committee for his contribution to world peace."

The symbol that shall be introduced with this year's Summer Games consists of five interlocking rings representing the five continents as ONE united world; one united world where everyone only fights in athletic competition. It is not clear whether the rings in the sculpture have been forged to each other. Mr. van Waalen mentioned that each ring is to be engraved with an inscription. About the inscriptions themselves Mr. van Waalen simply said: "It is my client's wish to keep the texts a surprise."

The founder of the games was the key person for the revival of the games known from the ancient world in 1894, almost 2000 years after these were banned by the Greek emperor Theodosius. He (WHO? THEODOSIUS?) designed the symbol already in 1913, but the political consequences of the Great War have delayed its introduction until the upcoming Summer Games. The International Committe claims to have to connection to the order of the sculpture.
[edit] Workorder

English translation by Khaos

Date of order : january 11th 1920
Description of the work:
5 rings linked together
Material bought: steel
diameter of 38cm
Writings :
waiting details
payment received : 406,500 Francs
(On the right side)
(On the bottom-right side)
Account number : ______
Date of order ______ ready :

[edit] Quiz

How much do you know about the "Lost Rings" sculpture?

Try the quiz.

1. What is design of the "Lost Rings" sculpture based on?

   * The ancient Olympic kotinos — an olive branch intertwined to form a circle
   * The Greek Cyclades — a circle, or kyklos, of islands
   * The 3 Olympic medals — bronze, silver, gold
   * The Olympic Logo — 5 interlocking rings

2. What was widely reported as the purpose of the "Lost Rings" sculpture?

   * It was a gift for Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics.
   * It was a prize for the country that won the most medals overall in the 1920 Olympics.
   * It was a public statue designed for the Olympic city of Antwerp
   * It was a gift for Victor Boin, who uttered the first Olympic Oath

3. Who is Axel Frend?

   * An Olympic official who commissioned the Lost Rings sculpture
   * A well-known metals worker who made the Lost Rings sculpture
   * A journalist who wrote about the disappearance of the Lost Rings sculpture
   * An art collector who is suspected to have destroyed the Lost Rings sculpture

4. What happened to the "Lost Rings" sculpture?

   * It was delivered to an anonymous client, and no one has seen it since.
   * It was stolen from a public display, and its current whereabouts are unknown.
   * It was divided into five parts and given to five different collectors.
   * Pierre de Coubertin was buried with it.

5. The "Lost Rings" sculpture may be known today to some collectors by a different name. What is it?

   * The 1920 Rings
   * The Antwerp Rings
   * The Interlocking Rings
   * The Sixth Ring
Personal tools
[Support Wikibruce]