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The monster business

Video by Angela YEOH , Willy BRACCIANO

Text by Euny HONG

Latest update : 2009-03-17

The trial of Josef Fritzl, the man accused of locking up his daughter Elisabeth and fathering seven children with her, has proven big business for many, including the media. Even Fritzl has tried to cash in, with less than stellar results.

On the second day of the trial of Josef Fritzl, the 73-year-old man accused of having imprisoned and repeatedly raped his daughter Elisabeth over a period of 24 years, the German-language tabloid press has already given him its own sentence.


In Germany’s Bild Zietung and Austria’s Österreich – both daily tabloids – Fritzl is officially known as the “Incest Monster.”


On the websites of these tabloids, all the horrors of the case are dissected and combed over in gory detail. On, one can even view a high-resolution virtual tour of the house, taking the user on a first-person perspective from the front door to the “basement of horrors” where Fritzl kept daughter Elisabeth and three of the six children she bore with him.


Though Fritzl has been avoiding photographers and the press in general, keeping his face covered with a blue binder for the first day of the trial, he has still not lost his business acuity.


According to, the website of die Bild, Fritzl has agreed that upon the end of the trial, he will grant an exclusive interview to Central European News (CEN), a press agency based in Vienna, for the grand sum of one million euros. When contacted by FRANCE 24, a CEN employee confirmed that they were in negociations with Fritzl’s attorney, but no final agreement has been reached.


David Hill, head of CEN, said to that the fee would go directly to Elisabeth and her children, telling the tabloid, “Believe me, we would never hand over money to a criminal.” He added, "We respect Elisabeth's wishes not to be forced to give up her right to privacy - and have the chance to rebuild her life without the need to sell her story to the media.”


A picture is worth 10,000 EUR


Daily Telegraph journalist Allan Hall has also found ways to cash in on the Fritzl affair. The journalist for the UK daily wrote a biography of Fritzl, called “Monster,” published in November 2008. He previously wrote a book about another Austrian girl held hostage – Natacha Kampusch. He has offered 10,000 euros for any photograph depicting Fritzl in detention.


His justification, according to “The world wants to see how the man with the glazed-over eyes is doing in his cell.”


The House of Horrors museum


Although the Austrian press has refrained from using the full names of all those intimate with Fritzl, this has not stopped them from being vociferous with the press. “Christine R.”, the sister of Fritzl’s lawful wife Rosmarie, has since Monday already given dozens of interviews to the Austrian and German press. She told the Austrian news site that her brother-in-law intended to turn his basement into a “Horror House” museum charging 10 euros for visitors.


Stern, a German weekly, claimed on its site that Fritzl tried to sell his original police interrogation transcript to the British tabloids for the asking price of four million euros – no takers. It claims that he also tried to sell drawings done by the children produced of his incestuous relationship with Elisabeth.




Date created : 2009-03-17