The Brits also write much more interesting obituaries
July 6, 2007 08:38 AM
Count Gottfried von Bismarck, who was found dead on Monday aged 44, was a louche German aristocrat with a multi-faceted history as a pleasure-seeking heroin addict, hell-raising alcoholic, flamboyant waster and a reckless and extravagant host of homosexual orgies.
What a great lede!
The great-great-grandson of Prince Otto, Germany's Iron Chancellor and architect of the modern German state, the young von Bismarck showed early promise as a brilliant scholar, but led an exotic life of gilded aimlessness that attracted the attention of the gossip columns from the moment he arrived in Oxford in 1983 and hosted a dinner at which the severed heads of two pigs were placed at either end of the table.
When not clad in the lederhosen of his homeland, he cultivated an air of sophisticated complexity by appearing in women's clothes, set off by lipstick and fishnet stockings....
Von Bismarck's university career ended in catastrophe in June 1986, when his friend Olivia Channon [daughter of one of Margaret Thatcher's cabinet ministers] was found dead on his bed, the victim of a drink and drugs overdose. Von Bismarck admitted that his role in the affair had brought disgrace on the family name; five years later he told friends that there were still people who would not speak to his parents on account of it, and who told his mother that she had "a rotten son".
Never concealing his homosexuality, von Bismarck continued to appear in public in various eccentric items of attire, including tall hats atop his bald Mekon-like head. At parties he would appear in exotic designer frock coats with matching trousers and emblazoned with enormous logos. Flitting from table to table at fashionable London nightclubs, he was said to be as comfortable among wealthy Eurotrash as he was on formal occasions calling for black tie.
Although described personally as quiet and impeccably mannered, von Bismarck continued to live high on the hog, hosting riotous all-night parties for his (chiefly gay) friends at his £5 million flat off Sloane Square. It was at one such event, in August last year, that von Bismarck encountered tragedy for a second time when one of his male guests fell 60 ft to his death from the roof garden. While von Bismarck was not arrested, he was questioned as a witness and there were those who wondered - not, perhaps, without cause - whether he might be the victim of a family curse...
He never married.
The Enquirer's obituaries could be so much more interesting, couldn't they? But I'm not sure the West Side could handle it.