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Gottfried Graf von Bismarck-Schönhausen
Born September 19, 1962(1962-09-19)
Uccle, Belgium
Died June 30, 2007 (aged 44)
London, England, UK
Nationality  Germany
Other names Count Gottfried von Bismarck
Title Count of Bismarck-Schönhausen

Gottfried Alexander Leopold Graf von Bismarck-Schönhausen (19 September 1962 – 30 June 2007) was a German nobleman best known for his flamboyance and parties.




Born in Uccle, Belgium,[1] Count Gottfried was the second son of Ferdinand, Prince of Bismarck and grandson of Otto, Prince of Bismarck, a diplomat at Germany's embassy to the UK in London until a feud with Third Reich foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. Count Gottfried was the great-great-grandson of German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck.

Count Gottfried's great-uncle and namesake was a Nazi official who allegedly became part of the famous plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Bismarck's younger sister, Vanessa von Bismarck (b. 26 March 1971, Hamburg, Germany) is a public relations agent in the U.S.. His older brother Carl-Eduard "Calle" von Bismarck (b. 1961) is an MP in the German Bundestag (parliament) and is the future head of the House of von Bismarck-Schönhausen.[1][2]

Titles and style

The branch of the Bismarck family that descends from the former German Chancellor holds supplementary surnames (formerly titles) of Count/Countess with the head of the family titled Fürst (Prince) and styled as Durchlaucht (Serene Highness). When Otto von Bismarck resigned as German Chancellor, he was presented the additional title of Duke of Lauenburg. This particular branch of the Bismarck clan is surnamed Bismarck-Schönhausen. However the media tend to shorten this to simply Bismarck, without any distinction from other branches.

Early life and education

Count Gottfried grew up primarily in his family's ancestral estate near Hamburg. He attended school in Germany and Switzerland and had a brief internship at the New York Stock Exchange before enrolling at Christ Church, Oxford University, where he studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) earning a third class honours degree, and was a member of the exclusive Piers Gaveston Society, "noted for its predilection for rubber wear and whips, which he embellished with his androgynous apparel and lipstick." As well as the prohibitively expensive Bullingdon Club, known for its members' wealth and destructive binges, alongside friends like Darius Guppy.[3] Confessing that he did not enjoy the typical social life in Oxford, he and his friends would escape to the more wild, fashionable parties in London on the weekends or whenever possible. He reportedly drank heavily at night and took amphetamines by day to concentrate on his studies.[4]

Tragedy at Oxford

The death of heiress Olivia Channon in the Count's room would disrupt his life.[4] Olivia was the daughter of Paul Channon and granddaughter of the famous diarist Henry Channon. She was found dead from a heroin overdose in the Count's rooms at Christ Church in 1986. The Count was charged with drug possession. He was fined GB£80, but the shadow of Olivia's death haunted him; he was said to have "wept like a child" at her funeral.[4] His father, Prince Ferdinand, recalled him to Germany for treatment at a private clinic, it was said he left Oxford so quickly that a family servant had to settle his bills with public houses (bars), tailors and restaurants.[3]


After completion of his studies at a German university, where he wrote a doctoral thesis on the East German telephone system, he visited the family estate at Schönhausen, that was lost under communist rule in East Germany.[3] This was a powerful personal experience for him facing the course of history. Later, after having spent some time in Los Angeles, he went to work as an executive for the now defunct Telemonde with the intent to raise capital from the stock-market prior to its collapse in 2002. He returned to London soon after and became a promoter of holidays in Uzbekistan. He was a co-founding executive with AIM Partners, a London based investment firm.[3]

Later life

In August 2006, Anthony Casey, 41, fell 20 m (60 ft) from the Count's Chelsea flat and died. The Count was not arrested and the police said there were no drugs found in his flat. Nevertheless, this incident re-awakened the so-called "curse" from the past, and triggered speculation from the tabloid press. Stories included an article from London's Daily Mail that claims the incident was fueled by a cocaine-fueled orgy involving several individuals. The coroner's report had found no alcohol in Casey's body, but did discover a significant amount of cocaine. The accusation of a 'gay orgy' was officially denied by Count Gottfried, though the coroner, Dr. Paul Knapman, told The Guardian that a great deal of sexual paraphernalia was discovered in the flat, including sex toys, lubricant, and a rubber tarpaulin.[5] "In common parlance, in the early hours of the morning, there was a gay orgy going on," Dr. Knapman told the newspaper. "Nevertheless, this was conducted by consenting males in private."


On 2 July 2007 Gottfried von Bismarck was found dead in his near-empty £5 million flat in Chelsea(which was in the process of being sold). He was 44 years old at the time of his death. An inquest into the circumstances of the death was opened on 6 July.

The count had been injecting cocaine on an hourly basis in the day before his death, said Sebastien Lucas, the pathologist who carried out the postmortem. He said Bismarck's body contained the highest level of cocaine that he had ever seen, as well as morphine; the German aristocrat also had liver damage, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b Leo van de Pas. "Descendants of Herbord von Bismarck". Worldroots. Retrieved 2007-07-05.  
  2. ^ Hein Bruin (4 July 2007). "Descendants of Otto von Bismarck and Johanna von Puttkamer". Heins Page. Retrieved 2007-07-05.  
  3. ^ a b c d "Count Gottfried von Bismarck Obituary". Daily Telegraph. 5 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-05.  
  4. ^ a b c Stuart Wavell (27 August 2006). "The Curse of the Count". Sunday Times (London).,,2087-2330658,00.html. Retrieved 2007-07-05.  
  5. ^ Fred Attewill (6 October 2006). "Fatal fall after 'gay orgy' was misadventure". The Guardian.,,1888777,00.html. Retrieved 2007-07-05.  

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