Because of the world-famous dancer and singer, they fought duels. Photographers placed her pictures on postcards, and artists vied with each other to paint portraits. Carolina, whose real name is Augustina Otero Iglesias, toured the United States, Argentina, Austria-Hungary, and Russia. Among her admirers were kings and kings of different countries. Her path from the daughter of a poor, dissolute woman to the symbol of the era was difficult and long. Brilliant Carolina Otero and her biography in our publication.
Carolina Otero was called “the last courtesan of Europe”
The ghosts of childhood
It is hard to believe that this black-haired woman with an exotic face, raised eyebrows in surprise and a small mouth literally enslaved the minds of men: kings, presidents and emperors. She had money, jewelry, castles and villas… But she started out in poverty.
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Augustina Otero Iglesias was born in Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain. She and five other children were raised by a single mother who barely made ends meet by prostitution. At ten years old, Carolina was brutally raped by a shoemaker, beating the girl to such an extent that she survived only by a miracle.
In his book La Belle Otero, Carmen Posadas quotes a journalist’s account of the incident:
Dancing in Paris
In the village, however, the cure of the unfortunate woman caused not joy, but contempt. Neighbors gossiped behind her back, spreading gossip that the shoemaker was not the first to Carolina.
At the age of 12, unable to endure such an attitude anymore, she fled to Lisbon with her lover and dance partner Paco Carolina. Having become pregnant by Paco, the girl had an abortion, and after it she could no longer have children.
On the stage, the young maiden tried to show everything that she could do – she danced as if her life depended on it. However, in many ways it was. At the age of 20, Carolina found a sponsor who taught her good manners and took her to Marseille with him. So the ambitious person began her dancing career in France.
Although she was a little old for a dancer – often girls were recruited into the troupe, her body and grace invariably captivated the choreographers. The beautiful Otero was tall – about 170 cm, while her waist was only 53 cm. Sensual Spanish dances and a pleasant voice quickly captivated the audience. In all the photos, Carolina Otero appears in luxurious suits embroidered with crystals, a passionate look and a charming smile.
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In the early days of the winter of 1889, Caroline arrived in Paris with her new patron, US impresario Ernest Jurgens. There she began to learn to dance already professionally. In the French capital, Carolina Otero’s career developed rapidly, and her biography was filled with more rosy and brilliant pages. Ernest tried to create a role for the young star, turn her into someone more mysterious than a simple village girl. So Carolina became an Andalusian countess, who had a secret relationship with King Alfonso XII (he was surprised).
Dancing in New York
After Ernest did everything possible to turn Carolina into a star, there was no turning back, the next step was waiting for them – New York. It can be said that two New Yorks appeared before the eyes of Carolina: the city of workers, tired of the hard work for which they were paid a pittance, and the sparkling city of millionaires. Gas was replaced by electricity, and there were more and more cars on the roads.
Bella Otero danced Spanish dances, not embarrassed to demonstrate a luxurious bust and slender strong legs. She went out in Spanish dresses, either raising her hair high to show the curve of her neck, or loosening it so that it fell on her back. In New York, Carolina met William Vanderbilt, a well-known representative of the golden youth, a Don Juan and a wealthy tycoon. Vanderbilt did not stint on a yacht, a villa and an oyster dinner, each of which was hiding a pearl.
Queen of Paris
The incredible appearance of Carolina Otero and her exotic dances turned the dancer into the main star of the Parisian scene.
But the one who brought her to the United States and introduced her to the new world suffered a sad fate. Jurgens was in love with Carolina and, having received no answer, committed suicide. However, he was not the only one. It was rumored that six men at different times committed suicide after the beautiful Otero refused them.
Only the richest and most influential men of the era became Carolina’s lovers. Those who could provide her with a luxurious life and make her forget forever about the poverty in which she was born.
Gossips told about her connections with the last German Emperor Wilhelm II, Grand Duke Nikolai Alexandrovich, Kings Edward VII, Leopold II, Alfonso XIII. One of her lovers was Prince Albert I of Monaco. So Carolina Otero recalled her connection with him:
The only passion
Beautiful Otero drove the monarchs and ordinary people crazy
Throughout her long life, Carolina Otero had only one passion – gambling. She left a fortune in the casino. From 1895 to 1948, she Augustine was forced to auction off her last property and move into a hotel. In Monte Carlo, she lost about $40 million.
When she didn’t have enough money, she paid with jewelry: Marie Antoinette’s necklace, Leonida le Blanc’s necklace, a string of black pearls weighing two kilograms (a gift from an oriental prince), a diadem with thirty diamonds in three rows, a pure gold tea set presented by Tsar Nicholas .. All this has sunk into the vent of her excitement.
According to one vulgar anecdote, when Bella Otero was already old enough to continue the game after the money ran out, she offered to pay with intimate services. According to the croupier, she served eleven men, giving each of them no more than half an hour.
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The beautiful Otero retired from the stage in 1914, she was then 46. She did not want to be remembered as a vulgar old woman, still confident in her own irresistibility. The Dancer wanted to be remembered as a mysterious beauty. A lonely woman settled in her villa in Nice. She did not stop playing, and very soon this vice led her to petty theft and cheap prostitution. She dragged from the hotels all the more or less valuable items that she would not have looked at before.
By old age, Carolina was left completely without funds. Every month she received a pension from an unknown well-wisher who retained feelings for his muse. There was a version that the allowance was sent to her by the Monte Carlo casino in memory of the millions that the artist spent on the games. But this money was barely enough for a meager existence in a boarding school for the poor. The beautiful Otero died in 1965 at the age of 96, without children, without a companion and without a penny to her soul.
Carolina Otero died in poverty and obscurity, but she remained in memory the most beautiful of women
Photo: Getty Images