Bardot, Gunter Sachs and the Fleeting Nature of Passion
Sometimes a name, or an obscure news story will open up a window to another era and allow the glamor and excitement of a past time to come rushing back in for a short time. It was thus in Brideshead Revisited when Charles, a dutiful army officer going through the motions in a dull company, arrives at a camp close to a great house that’s now abandoned. He realizes suddenly it’s Brideshead where he spent so much of his audacious and dashing youth, alas now shuttered due to war and bereft of its inhabitants.
The 10-roomed apartment in Paris where French film star Brigitte Bardot and her German playboy-cum-art-collector husband Gunther Sachs, lived in when they were married is now up for sale for a mere 6.1 million euros.
Bardot was one of the best known sex symbols of the 1950s and 1960s, while Sachs was one of the leading playboys of his generation. Bardot had put the tiny and little-known fishing village of St Tropez on the map in the Fifties after making the film And God Created Woman there.
They met in St Tropez and, by all accounts, the sexual chemistry fizzed. Sachs famously dropped hundreds of red roses over her St Tropez beach home from a helicopter, then dropped out of the helicopter and swam up to her back door with two suitcases in tow.
Later, knowing Bardot’s love of animals, he bought her a tame cheetah.
It was a hard act to follow, and it seemed they failed to live up to the early pace. By the time they married in Vegas in 1966, Bardot was already becoming irritated by her lover’s antics. Their marriage lasted three years and died amid acrimony. In the latter years of their marriage, the apartment bore the brunt of the acrimony.
“The marble floors and lack of carpets must have made this anideal venue for cup-smashing. Mind you, there were plenty of rooms to stomp off to, including a rather elegant billiards room and an oval-shaped, glass-roofed discotheque, said to have been inspired by the celebrated Chez Rėgine nightclub, just off the Champs Elysées,” wrote Christopher Middleton in The Telegraph.
So, it seemed a relationship that started with roses ended up like the War of the Roses.
Bardot is still alive but has lived a reclusive life for many years, her animals her best companion. A recent article in the Daily Mail described her as a recluse with a dubious private life who hasn’t aged well. In her defense, she is 79-years-old.
The relationship between Bardot and Sachs could teach us many things – passion is fleeting or the French will never get on with the Germans.
More than anything else, it’s probably a reminder to seize the moment before we are hobbling around seeking out a hip replacement.
Earlier this week, an article in The Telegraph also shed light on a romantic and glamorous episode, now long forgotten.
Bardot and Sachs were described as “impossibly glamorous” when they were together, but few recall them now.
Still, it was glamorous while it lasted and the older we get the more we cling to those shards of erstwhile glamor.
We’ll never know if Sachs thought of the roses one day in 2011 when he took his life in his villa in the jet-set Swiss resort of Gstaad fearing an illness he would only call A, which is thought to have been Alzheimer’s, would take over his body.