A new biography about the late chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain, who took his own life while filming CNN’s “Parts Unknown” in 2018, sparked reactions long before its Oct. 11 release date — especially among those who knew Bourdain best The Times dove into Charles Leerhsen’s “Down and Out in Paradise: The Life of Anthony Bourdain,” to break down what makes some relatives and friends of the Emmy winner cringe. Bourdain’s brother Christopher called the book “hurtful and defamatory fiction.” However, in an email last week to The Times, Leerhsen said other Bourdain family members and friends with copies anticipated “confirmed that my view of the Bourdain family dynamics is accurate.”
But first, a word of warning: Leerhsen relies on numerous confidential sources and cites certain people, including Bourdain’s girlfriend, Asia Argento, and his estranged wife, Ottavia, who will not confirm that they spoke publicly. It also seeks concrete explanations for suicide, which, as Times columnist Mary McNamara recently wrote, makes it a “thriller in which the answer” – addiction and mental illness – “is obvious”. Here’s why “Down and Out in Paradise” is making waves.Blame for Bourdain’s suicideLeerhsen repeatedly suggests that messages from Argento, Bourdain’s girlfriend at the time of his death, triggered his decision to take his own life. Leerhsen writes: “Not being able to end this relationship [with Argento] may have cost him his life. Other people are also brought into the blame game. Leerhsen writes that the qualities that former Bourdain boss, the late Andy Menschel, Joe’s former owner, “brought out in [him] … I believe, played a very important role in his final decision in this hotel room.
Texts with Argento
Argento declined to speak officially with Leerhsen, but that didn’t stop the author from quoting her. Her book shares an excerpt from an email she sent him in which she quotes Oscar Wilde (“It’s still Judas who writes the biography”). She is listed in the “Down and Out” acknowledgments as one of the people Leerhsen spoke with “and didn’t mind being named,” although the actor recently told The New York Times that she ” had clearly written to this man that he could not publish anything”. I told him. “Leerhsen also includes private text messages and emails exchanged between her and Bourdain from a” confidential source. do charlie [her nickname for cocaine]”, shortly after they first met in May of that year on the “Parts Unknown” set. Bourdain reportedly replied, “Because you’re going to feel really horrible and neurotic… Also because I love you and that drives me mad with worry and worry when you hurt yourself or are unhappy.” On June 8, 2018, the day of Bourdain’s suicide, after footage of Argento and French journalist Hugo Clément in the lobby of Rome’s Hotel de Russie surfaced online: Bourdain: “I’m fine. I’m not mean. I’m not jealous that you’ve been with another man. You don’t belong to me. You’re free… But you have been negligent. You have been reckless with my heart… I meant and I mean everything I said to you. But I hope you will have mercy on me for those feelings.” Argento: ” I can’t stand this.” Later that day, Bourdain asked, “Is there anything I can do? Argento replied, “Arr You’re breaking my balls.” “Okay,” Bourdain replied. According to Leerhsen, Argento continued to text about his intention to break up, apparently unaware that Bourdain had already hanged himself. Apparently reacting to the biography, Argento posted a photo on Instagram last week. The photo showed Argento wearing a T-shirt depicting former professional bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman with the phrase “Stop busting my balls” written on it. Representatives for Argento did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment.
Bourdain’s support for Argento during the #MeToo scandal
Bourdain reportedly offered to pay Argento’s personal trainer, “told him to hire a nanny and that he would take care of all childcare expenses.” The book claims he also tried to find him a ghostwriter to support his “activist career” following his accusations of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein at the height of the #MeToo movement. In November 2017, Argento learned she was being sued by Jimmy Bennett, who claimed the Italian actor sexually assaulted him when he was underage. According to a confidential source cited in the book, Bourdain later paid his legal fees, hired a private detective “to blackmail [Bennett] or tarnish his reputation” and gave Bennett $380,000 “in return for his promise not to take legal action.”
Bourdain allegedly pressured a colleague to speak out against Mario Batali
Leerhsen claims Bourdain pressured his assistant Laurie Woolever, who had previously worked for Batali, to share her own inappropriate stories about the chef. This was following allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against Batali, an old friend and TV guest of Bourdain. When she hesitated (and ultimately refused to talk about Batali), Bourdain reportedly texted: go to work. You will need something ready, specifically indicating if you have seen anything untoward. We saw it with Weinstein and the people who worked with him. If you are fast, firm and decisive, you will be fine. Bourdain leaked information about Batali to the media, the biography also claims.
Private conversations with a separated woman
Leerhsen also shared quotes from Ottavia Bourdain “from a confidential source.” These include an exchange before the birth of their daughter, Ariane. When she got pregnant before their wedding, Ottavia reportedly asked if Bourdain wanted to discuss a “plan B.” When allegations against Weinstein surfaced, Leerhsen writes, Ottavia told a friend that Bourdain “seemed paranoid all the time” and began seeing a therapist in the spring of 2018. “He was afraid he would get drunk to death otherwise.” , she would have said to the friend. Ottavia is also cited over Bourdain’s alleged steroid use. When Bourdain was photographed looking particularly muscular, rumors swirled that he was using steroids. Ottavia reportedly told a friend that Bourdain asked her to deny the rumors under a false name. “If anyone said anything negative about him…it was the end of the world,” Ottavia reportedly told the friend. Leerhsen claims the rumors were true and that Bourdain used steroids. Ottavia is not listed in the book’s acknowledgments among the 103 people who spoke with Leerhsen on file. But Bourdain’s estate, which she controls, “did not object” to the biography, according to the New York Times. (The estate includes files and messages extracted from Bourdain’s phone and laptop.)
Bourdain’s relationship with prostitutes
Again based on “confidential sources”, Leerhsen reports that Bourdain continued to solicit prostitutes until the time of his death, and that the last website he visited before committing suicide, “after a few other googles of Asia Argento, was a prostitution service”.
Bourdain’s continued drug use
Leerhsen details Bourdain’s drug use from childhood to throughout his professional career, including a few weeks before his death, when he allegedly ingested the hallucinogenic plant peyote between takes of “Parts Unknown” and discussed his interest in an acid trip. Bourdain had written extensively about his heroin and cocaine use earlier in his career as a chef, but he reportedly continued to drink, sometimes heavily.Bourdain’s tension with his daughterBy the time Bourdain’s daughter, Ariane, was 9, he was increasingly absent. When he got home, a source claims he went to great lengths to act like he wasn’t with his wife. (According to Leerhsen, Argento bristled when he saw Ottavia, despite their open relationship.) Ottavia reportedly told a friend that Bourdain would ask him to cook dinner when he got home because he didn’t have much time to be. with her family. But later he would post Instagram stories of himself alone in a bar, “for Asia’s sake.” “But the problem was that Ariane had Instagram. She saw it too,” Ottavia reportedly told a friend. “And it confused her and broke her heart.”