Everything you wanted to know about Richard Chanfray, the Count of St. Germain
Born in Lyon in 1940, Frenchman Richard Chanfray told the world that he was the immortal Count of Saint Germain. He made his announcement in Paris in the '70s and appeared on French television, where he apparently turned lead into gold on a camp stove. While being a visual artist, his real claim to fame however was his claim of being an immortal alchemist.
The Count of St. Germain was a European adventurer who achieved prominence in European high society of the mid-18th century due to his interest and achievements in science, alchemy, philosophy, and the arts. While he was a real historical figure he is known for his far fetched claims of being 500 years old and being immortal.
Richard Chanfray might have used this controvercy around Count of St. Germain for his own publicity.
Not much is known abour Richard Chanfray's exact birthdate. However it is known that he was an orphan who was growing up as the ward of state in an French government run orphanage. He became an adult in 1961 and left the orphanage.
After that he tried to establish a business dealing in antiques. Over period of time he also got into crimes such as theft and ended up in jail for 7 years.
Chanfray however was also a pretty good painter and sculpter. He becames fairly known as a visual artist over period of time and he used this new found fame to further make bigger claims such as that he was the famed Count of St. Germain.
In 1971 he performed an alchemy experiment on television and claimed to have turned lead into gold. He also claimed that he was 17000 year old. Later he performed the same experiment in Spain, this time with scientists as witness.
His good looks, ability to influence people and charming nature made him a popular figure in France and rest of the Europe. The women especially were crazy for him despite is weird claims.
But claims of immortality was on the only reason why Chanfray got popular. He managed to get to know he pop singer Dalida and became her lover and secratory. She was depressed and Chanfray provided her comfort though witnesses said that Dalida was well aware that all his claims were completely made up.
His relationship with Dalida lasted from 1972 to 1981. It broke with an interesting twist. One day when he entered the house with Dalida, he found a man in his home. This man was a friend of one of the house hold servants. Chanfray however took a rifle and shot the man who managed to survive and press charges.
As the case reaches courts it was revealed that Chanfray had a criminal past. Not just that but that he was also legally married to a woman at the age 19 and the marriage was not annuled.
This impacted his relationship with Dalida who dumped him immediately.
Richard Chanfray was not immortal afterall. In 1983 he was found dead in his car along with his new lover. They had comitted suicide by connecting the car's exhaust pipe to the passanger compartment. His body was recovered and autopsied. The funeral took place in the presence of Dalida and some of his friends.
Chanfray however became a sort of cult figure and rumors started spreading that he was seen alive in different parts of the world at different times. In the era of internet such rumors spread fast. Chanfray's criminal past and narcissist behaviour had left him no friends and hence not many people had showed up for his funeral. Dalida herself comitted suicide few years later making the whole relationship a bit of a mystery. People claimed that no body was ever recovered and the story of sucide was made up.
Soonish photographs were discovered that claimed Chanfray was present in New Orleans and he was in fact the vampire of New Orleans. Later he was also claimed to have been spotted in White House.
Though several prominent websites mention Chanfray as a visual artist and he has also acted in TV serials, in reality his art was mediocre and any reason it is remembered is because of his other claims of being an immortal and the publicity he acquired through his relationship with Dalida.
Richard Chanfray was popular for making the claim of being immortal. He used this popularity to be close to then a big celebrity Dalida and managed to be in the celebrity circles for around a decade. His life while being based on a lie came to a tragic end. History will remember Richard Chanfray as a great example of how an obvious lie when delivered with charm can still impress people.