(by Pablo Burgués)
As I told you last week, the glorious days for our friend Elmyr de Hory came to an end in 1976. The reason for the beginning of the end of his mischievous existence was the arrival of a letter where the French government informed him about an extradition order for him.
For years, Elmyr had been sneaking his forgeries to very important and powerful people on all five continents, and he was aware of the fact that, if finally he was extradited and judged in a serious country, it would be fucking difficult for him to come out with flying colours. Facing the more than likely possibility of getting into prison aged 70, and thus living the last years of his life in a place with scarce glamour, our friend decided that he was not going to make it easy.
On 11 December 1976, the newspapers almost all over the world informed of the suicide of the greatest art forger of all times. The artist had taken a lethal combination of barbiturates and Mark Forgy, his young lover, had found him dead in one of the rooms at the house they shared in Sant Josep de Sa Talaia.
But, as his life, his death was surrounded by controversy. Several friends of the artist soon stated that the person to blame was Forgy, who, you’ll never believe it, had been named as the painter’s sole heir just a few weeks before. According to this version, Forgy had found Elmyr lying unconscious on the floor, still alive, but he didn’t look for help until he was sure that the artist was completely off. Nothing of this could be proved.
The last time that the artist was seen alive and well was a few hours before his death, at the terrace of Hotel Montesol, meeting point of the cool people at the time. Elmyr, with his usual monocle and inseparable carrycot from Ibiza hanging on his arm, said goodbye to his friends saying: “Bye. I’m going to commit suicide”. Those words were understood as a joke by all of them, without realizing that Elmyr was as much a joker as Elton John could be a construction foreman.
But, did Elmyr really die that day of that was only another of his tricks? According to Clifford Irving, his biographer, many people declared to have seen the artist, fresh as a daisy, years after his suicide: walking through the streets of Paris, lying on a beach in Sydney, walking along Honolulu…
And this is all I know about the life story of Elmyr de Hory, also known as Von Houry, Dory-Boutin, Herzog, Cassou, Hoffman, Raynal and much much more names as brilliant and false as his works of art.
Translation: Dora Sales
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