Sons of Union Veterans of The Civil War
Department of New York

Daniel E. Sickles Camp 3
White Plains, NY

 

 

 

Princess Vilma Lwoff-Parlaghy
(aka Elisabeth von Parlaghy, Elisabeth Lwoff, Vilma Von Parlaghy or Parlaghy-Brachfeld)
c. 1863 - 1923
Date of birth sometimes noted as 1864 or 1865

and

The Lion Cub General Sickles (Goldfleck)
c. 1911/1912 - 1912

The Artist, Her Majesty Princess Vilma Lwoff-Parlaghy

Self Portrait


Princess Lwoff-Parlaghy was born in Hungary in the mid-1860s. Her exact date of birth seems to vary slightly from one source to another.
She was married, for a very brief time, to a Russian Prince, giving her the royal title of Princess which she carried with her the remainder of her life.
It was said that from her marriage she had an income of a million dollars a year (which she apparently consumed without difficulty).

The Princess had become a renowned portrait artist even before her marriage - she was awarded the Art Gold Medal from the
Berlin Academy in 1894 - and her subjects would include royal figures in Europe and then military figures and celebrities
here in the United States, which she first visited in about 1896, and then again in 1899. An announcement was made noting that
the Princess was returning to America in 1908, WITH her menagerie of pets, and would be staying at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.
Despite lengthy negotiations, the Waldorf Astoria Hotel had turned her down.

While the Plaza may not have been thrilled with her animal affections, despite her reputation as a champion for animal protection and care,
the Princess lived at the Plaza - in a 3rd floor suite containing its own chapel, 14 rooms, a private physician, valet, Swedish nurse, maids, a cook,
a footman, butlers, two couriers, two attachés and her animal companions, for five years - perhaps sometimes to the dismay of the hotel management.
Her menagerie was said to have included dogs, cats, a guinea pig, and owl, two small alligators and a bear.

And this brings us to Dan Sickles and Goldfleck. Apparently, in about 1911 or 1912 the Princess developed a desire to add a lion cub to her menagerie.
This was likely a result of visiting the Ringling Brothers Circus where she offered to purchase a cub directly from Ringling.
The circus politely declined, but that did not deter the Princess. Having recently completed a portrait of General Daniel E. Sickles,
she solicited his assistance. And as was often the case, no one could turn down the great war hero - now in his 90s.
And so the lion cub, christened General Sickles (but called Goldfleck) came to live with the Princess at the Plaza,
where he had his own private trainer, and his own separate room.

There was one reported incident involving a poorly timed flash-photograph frightening the lion, who then raced through an open door,
down that hall and into the public corridors of the hotel, causing a bit of panic among guests and staff members,
but a piece of raw meet lured him back to the suite, and all ended well.

Although doing well for quite some time - perhaps better than might be expected for a lion living at the Plaza - Goldfleck became ill and died in 1912.
The Princess held a formal wake, with Goldfleck reportedly laying in state, surrounded by flowers, his toys and dishes.
He was buried at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, America's first official Cemetery exclusively for pets, established in 1896.

The final resting place of
Goldfleck (General Sickles) the lion.
Hartsdale Pet Cemetery
Hartsdale, NY
 

 

 

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