This is a very obscure and curious case…
On the March 11-17 1988 issue of the Nouvel Observateur, a large format Paris weekly (slightly left of centre in its politics), appeared a very curious advertisement.
A London-based law firm, the trustees of “the estate of A.P. Teesdale, Esq. of Durham County in England”, was appealing for “serious organizations” that may be able to meet the requirements of the gentleman’s will. These requirements were “the establisment and the maintenance of relationships with extraterrestrial beings”.
A French UFO investigator (known to Jacque Vallee), Professor François Raulin, a much distinguished chemist, and Claude Vorilhon, founder of the Raelian UFO cult were all invited to attend after making suitable applications. The trustees identified themselves as the law firm of Theard, Theard, Smith & Theard, 31 Sussex Mansions, Old Brompton Road, London SW7 and summoned the finalists to one the best (and most expensive) restaurants in Paris, right next to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Here a commision made up twelve persons awaited the candidates: four representives of Theard & Co, four French lawyers, a man who was introduced as a specialist in computer science, a physicist, an engineer and a Roman Catholic priest. Both the engineer and the priest denied any connection with both the late Mr Teesdale and Theard & Co: they had been just invited to dinner.
During dinner the will was read including the so-called “confession”, an incredible piece of writing which was allegedly part of the will. Mr. Teesdale related how in 1916, when he was barely seventeen, had run away from home and cheated on his age to enlist in the Army. He was sent to the Flanders and shortly thereafter was caught in the explosion of a shell. While he was laying dazed in the mud, he heard a voice who assured him that he was not going to die on that day. This voice also told him that he was to be given a “clue” and his duty was to “place this in the hands of your best scientists”. Mr Teesdale awoke, practically uninjured with an “object” in his hand. What this object was we are not told.
Of course he forgot about his mission and in 1940 he found himself in the Army and on the Continent again, this time racing against time to reach evacuation beach at Dunkirk. While boarding a boat a German plane strafed and bombed the area. While an explosion was going on, Teesdale again heard the aforementioned voice, scolding him for not fulfilling his duty. When he said that the “object” failed to impress anyone he showed it to, he was said that he was to be given a “second clue”. Surely this time he was bound to be believed. When he awoke he painfully discovered that this time he had not been so lucky, since he had been gravely injured in a leg. And now there were two “mystery objects” to be sure. Back in England, it was discovered that his injury was worse than first thought. After leaving the hospital he was assigned to sedentary duties and when the threat of a German invasion evaporated, he was invalided out. Of course after the war he desperately tried to put the two objects in the hands of the “best scientists”, but each time he was turned away. Of course nobody believed him. When he died, his mission unfulfilled, he left a “considerable sum” to be handed over to whoever was deemed by his trustees to be the best suited to fulfill the mission.
After this incredibly story was told, each one of the candidates was interviewed and his curriculum vitae examined.
There was little doubt that Professor Raulin was the most obvious choice: he was a much respected scientist, he had direct access to extremely advanced equipment, he had academic connections all over the world, he had even spoken openly in favour of life outside Earth. Yet Vorilhon was named the winner. He was handed over a large cryogenic container, similar to ones used to transport bull semen, which was said to contain the two clues. Raulin offered his help in analyzing the objects and Vorilhon gladly accepted it. A few days later Raulin phoned the UFO investigator to see if he had heard from Vorilhon, which seemed to have disappeared. Of course he hadn’t. Three months later both two were contacted on behalf of Vorilhon by a member of the Raelian organization, Dominique Renaudin.
There was no trace of the inheritance, not a single penny. Inquiries made by the London branch of the Raelians failed to discover any trace of the trustees. He declined to comment about the content of the cryogenic container. Raulin and the researcher mobilized their English contacts and then boarded a plane for London, determined to get to the bottom of the fiasco. There has never been a registered law firm by the name of Theard, Theard, Smith & Theard, neither in London nor anywhere in England. Even worse, there wasn’t even a 31 Sussex Mansions: the uneven numbers stopped at 29. Further research failed to turn out any trace of a Teesdale family in County Durham.
It had all been a colossal fraud. But who were the perpetrators? And why go to such incredible length and expense to perpetrate such a hoax?
There is little doubt that they were based in England but picked out France willingly as the seat of their “theatrical performance” as Vallee called it. The four persons impersonating the Theard & Co envoys all spoke good French but were native Englishmen (not Americans) without any doubt.
And what was their motivation? If they just aimed at making fun of Vorilhon why bother involving a respected academic like Professor Raulin? Why invite an engineer and a priest without any links to the UFO or paranormal scene just to witness their performance?
Sadly, answers are in short supply…