Gunter Sachs killed himself this week-end. He was 78. A note was released by his family to the Swiss news agency SDA/ATS and made public according to the 78 year-old’s wishes, the agency reported.
“The loss of mental control over my life was an undignified condition, which I decided to counter decisively,” the letter signed by Sachs said. He called it the “no hope illness A”, SDA reported and he outlined symptoms such as forgetfulness that appeared to be consistent with a condition like Alzheimers.
To many the name of German-Swiss billionaire playboy reminds of the golden days of St.Tropez and Gstaad and his marriage to Brigitte Bardot. He has been credited of introducing Andy Warhol to Europe, was a close friend of Salvador Dali; A happy few have fond memories of bobsleigh races followed by glorious nights at his Dracula’s Ghost Riders Club in St.Moritz.
Born in 1932, the heir of the Opel Empire had first a celebrated career directing documentaries, then he said goodbye to the movies but the love of the camera remained and he became a photographer. First, splendid naked girls whom he later dressed when he turned to fashion. In the year 1981-1982 no photographer had more pages than him in Vogue Paris. After 10 years the self proclaimed “unstable human being” was still shooting, his images becoming more abstract and surrealistic.
In the introduction to his 1982 volume Mirror Images he says: “I can only explain that photography attracts me like a capricious courtesan: The more difficult she is, the more irresistible she become to the lover. Just like every romance changes over the years, so my relationship with photography has also changed in many ways.”
His state of the art studio seemed to come out of a James Bond movie with its banks of lights remotely controlled.
After first meeting him thanks to my friend Jean-Claude Sauer, I crossed path a few times with Gunter Sachs through my years at Paris Match. I remember his hospitality, his kindness, his laugh and his passion for photography (I didn’t share his other one: Astrology).
When many become photographers for the ladies, the money and the lifestyle (not necessarily in this order) well, let’s face it, Sachs already had all that.
For him, it was just about photography.
It is legendary that a few hours after meeting Brigitte Bardot he had a helicopter fly over “La Madrague”, her villa in St.Tropez, to shower it with hundreds of red roses.
All is life and down to the very end this Saturday, Gunter Sachs did it his way.