A glad-handing force of nature to some and a press-savvy con artist to others, Christopher Janus cut a legendary swath through Chicago's art and business communities.
A big-picture guy in culture as in business, he led delegations of noteworthy Chicagoans to Athens for democracy conferences, to Persepolis in 1971 for the 2,500th anniversary of Iran's monarchy and to China shortly after it reopened to the West. Yet many detected something not quite straight about the Bache & Co. broker.
"We never knew what kind of stockbroker he was -- maybe he never actually was one. That would figure, too," says Universal Press Syndicate columnist Georgie Anne Geyer, a longtime friend. "I have myself always mistrusted people who don't have a touch of larceny."
In his perhaps most famous exploit, he undertook a globe-trotting detective mission to discover the whereabouts of Peking Man, fossils of primitive man discovered in China in the 1920s and 1930s. The fossils disappeared in mysterious circumstances during World War II, and Mr. Janus seemed hot on the trail. That was shortly before he was convicted of fraud for the loans he took out to finance the venture. The fossils remain at large.