I heard an interesting story from a young Georgian scientist living in Washington, D.C., Otar Ioseliani, after which I had to conduct a small investigation. Here is what Otar told me:
“Before I arrived in Seattle, I researched what could be seen and found that the famous Oriental martial arts master Bruce Lee was buried in Capitol Hill’s Lake View Cemetery, so as soon as I arrived in Seattle, we decided to go to the grave. The name is connected, it is interesting.Respecting his grave is a special fact!
Consequently, the grave always has a visitor. In short, my friend Vakhtang Shelia and I, a successful Georgian scientist who also holds a black belt in karate, went to Seattle Cemetery. “It was completely unexpected for me that I read the Orthodox cross and the inscription – Liaso Arishidze – on the tombstone, a few meters from Bruce Lee’s grave.”
How did a Georgian get near Bruce Lee’s grave, who was he and why was he buried in Seattle’s prestigious cemetery? – I started searching to answer these questions.
After several weeks of fruitless searching in the archives, I contacted historian Rusudan Daushvili, who recalled that about five years ago, a woman was looking for Liaso Arishidze, also known as Lasse Areshidze, and gave me her number.
“Hello, Liaso Arishidze, buried near Bruce Lee in Seattle, are you a descendant of the same John Lasso?” – I asked the woman.
“Yes, Laso Arishidze was my grandfather’s uncle, or my great-grandfather’s brother, I am one of his descendants,” replied John Lasso’s direct descendant, Tea Intskirveli.
My joy knew no bounds …
After a long conversation with Ms. Tea, I was pleasantly surprised. The story about Lasse Areshidze, the same John Lasso, is told exclusively to the readers of “Kviris Palitra” by his descendants.
– The families of his descendants have been looking for him for a very long time. My cousin Irma Nizharadze has been looking for me for 20 years. Akaki Surmava, a Georgian living in America, and Mr. Walter Rekhviashvili found the grave of my grandfather. Lase Areshidze had brothers: Victor, Nestor and Ivliane, he also had one sister – Aquirine and we are his descendants, Lasse himself did not have a wife and children.
We discovered Lasse’s grave 4 years ago.
Voltaire, the son of Laso Areshidze’s friend Vano Rekhviashvili, describes Lasse Areshidze’s life in detail in his memoirs. Here are the memoirs of Walter Rekhviashvili, a Georgian emigrant living in Seattle, kept by the family relative Tsimi Areshidze:
“Lasso was from a family of aristocrats in Kutaisi. He was very young when he left Georgia for Vladivostok. A few weeks later the money ran out. As Lasso told my father, he and his friend decided to rob the local royal garrison tax office.
As long as the headquarters of that district were in Vladivostok, the garrison was quite large, the tax office larger and very tempting.
Lasso and his friend met the courier one dark night and took one bag of money. Lasso’s companions wanted to kill the man, but Lasso stopped him, convincing him that it was enough to pick up the courier, take the money, and leave.
His friend agreed. They grabbed the courier, fled the city and hid the money there. Horses were found a little farther away, and here their paths parted. Soon the militia caught Lasso, but his friend survived.
The court wanted to sentence Lasso to death if he did not cooperate with the authorities, did not return the money, and did not name an accomplice. Lasso did not plead guilty. The judge brought in a courier who followed the circumstances of his robbery. Lasso’s family hired the best lawyer. The lawyer told the courier that if the testimony he gave was true then it turns out that Lasso had saved his life and should be grateful to him. After some thought, the courier told the court that it was very dark that night and he could not pick out the attackers well and he thought Lasso was not among them.
After a while, Lasso visited the hidden money, took it out and headed for northern Siberia. He swore he seemed to have swam 50 miles to Alaska. It is more plausible that he moved by boat. One way or another, in 1909, as soon as he arrived in Alaska, he exchanged a large portion of the money for Tsarist Russia in dollars.
In Alaska he first bought one bar, then another. He hired Metreveli as his partner to take care of this second night bar.
A couple of years later, he moved to Seattle, Washington, where many other Georgians lived, and opened another nightclub without Metreveli.
By the end of World War II, he already had five or six clubs, and the United States government required him to pay taxes. His clubs existed illegally and so Lasso did not show his income anywhere, he did not pay taxes. The government even said that this tax was about two million dollars.
Lasso was a very interesting person and a lot can be said about him, more than I can handle in this short time and still tell you one episode from his life. Lasso could have appealed to the best lawyers and his case dragged on for years, but in the end he was still forced to appear in court. He nodded and asked the judge, “Do I look like a millionaire?”
After several months of negotiations, it was agreed that Lasso would pay $ 250,000 and that would be the end of the matter.
The document was supposed to be signed the following week, but late last week, when Lasso and his girlfriend Luka Gavashelishvili were attending a rodeo of cowboys in California outside of California, he suffered a heart attack and died. “In exchange for the agreed tax amount, the government confiscated his property, including bank accounts, except for the accounts he had in fictitious names.”
His clubs were supposed to have problems during the “dry law”, but in all likelihood, he was dealing with law enforcement and selling alcohol in his bars without any problems, warning of raids in advance.
Will of Lashe Areshidze
We have court evidence that we are really the descendants of Lasse Areshidze. He had total correspondence with his family, but contact was severed in the 1940s due to Soviet censorship.
It was then published in the newspaper in 1952 that an international panel was searching for Lacey’s family members. Aquirine – Lasse and was taken to Moscow, where he read my grandmother’s will and saw that Lasse left all his property to his siblings and their descendants. Aquirine signed to confirm that he had read the will. Unfortunately, KGB did not allow us to access the information about the inheritance. In the US, part of his property was confiscated, while the fate of the rest is unclear.