14 November 1932|
Schloss Mainberg (near Schweinfurt), Bavaria, Germany
|Died||7 May 2011
|Occupation||Author, photographer, industrialist|
Annemarie Faure (m. 1956–58)
|Relatives||Wilhelm von Opel (grandfather)|
Fritz Gunter Sachs (14 November 1932 – 7 May 2011) was a German photographer, author, industrialist, and latterly head of an institute that researched claims of astrology. As a young man he became a sportsman, then gained international fame as a documentary film-maker and documentary photographer. He was interested in astrology and its connection with mathematics and statistics.
Early life and education
Sachs was born in southern Germany. His mother was the daughter of Wilhelm von Opel; his father was Willy Sachs, sole owner of Fichtel & Sachs, a leading manufacturer of ball bearings and one of Germany's biggest automobile suppliers. Willy was known to Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler and arrested by the American military after the war but finally declared a follower and released. Gunter Sachs commented on his father's past in several publications. Willy committed suicide in 1958 by shooting himself. Sachs' brother, Ernst Wilhelm, died in an avalanche in 1977.
Sachs studied maths and economics.
A playboy in his early years, Sachs was romantically linked to the former Iranian queen Soraya Esfandiary. He married three times. His first wife, Anne-Marie Faure, died in 1958 during surgery. He courted his second wife, Brigitte Bardot, by flying over her villa on the French Riviera in a helicopter and dropping hundreds of roses. The couple were married on 14 July 1966 in Las Vegas; they divorced in 1969. His final marriage was to Swedish former model, Mirja Larsson, (who was 26 at the time of their engagement) which lasted from 1969 until his death. He had a son Rolf Sachs (born 1955), with his first wife, and a further two sons (Christian Gunnar and Claus Alexander) with his third wife.
In addition to his German nationality, Sachs received Swiss citizenship in 1976.
Sachs' extensive art collection included works by Jean Fautrier, Andy Warhol, René Magritte, Salvador Dalí, Roy Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselmann, Mel Ramos, and Allen Jones. He also owned important pieces from the Nouveau réalisme school including Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely, Arman, and Martial Raysse. Many of these artists were involved in the 1969 design of the legendary pop-art-apartment in the tower of the Palace Hotel in St. Moritz, which quickly gained the art world's attention. From 1967 to 1975 Sachs, together with Prince Konstantin of Bavaria, co-founded and headed the association for the Modern Art Museum in Munich (MAM), which lobbied for the construction of a comprehensive museum of contemporary art in Munich and mounted monthly exhibitions at Villa Stuck. Victor Vasarely, Georg Baselitz, Heinz Edelmann, Christo, Cy Twombly, Alexander Calder, Heinz Mack and Jean Tinguely, Roy Lichtenstein, and Gotthard Graubner found their way into the rooms of the museum. In 1972 he opened a gallery in Hamburg and organised the first European exhibition of his friend Warhol.
In May 2006, Sachs sold one of Warhol's silk screens of Bardot at auction for $3 million. The Sachs family sold part of his collection of Pop Art and Nouveau Realisme through Sotheby's in May 2012.
Since 1972, Sachs was working professionally as a photographer, in 1973 he caused a stir with the first nude photograph of French Vogue. In 1991 he worked with Claudia Schiffer on the "Heroines" series. He gained international recognition in 1974 with a special show at the Photokina trade show for which he also designed the official exhibition poster. In 1976 he was awarded the Leica Award. At the 'German photo days' and the Photokina he received prizes for "Die Farbe Weiss" in 1994 and for "Die Farbe Rot" in 1995.
The focus of his photography are surreal nudes and landscapes, which were published in no less than seven image volumes. Early on, Sachs also experimented with digital photography. The proceeds from the sale of his photographs and illustrated books went into the Mirja Sachs Foundation, which helps children in need.
In the 1990s, Sachs made the international newspapers again after he commissioned major research into sun sign astrology using large samples. Sachs set out to test the assumptions of astrologers by gathering a team of scientists and statisticians which, over two years, analysed the lives of nearly one million men and women.
"In every case, there were significant results, way beyond what is explicable through mere coincidence," he is quoted as saying by the Daily Mail newspaper on 6 November 1997.
To facilitate the research he set up the "Institute for the Empirical and Mathematical Examination of the Possible Truth of Astrology in Relation to Human Behaviour". Then, using established statistical techniques and with help from the official statistics office in Switzerland (where the authorities have recorded the date and hour of birth of every citizen since 1875), his team gathered statistics on every aspect of human life.
His methodology and the statistical analysis have been criticised by mathematicians. They found serious errors in all parts and deny any statistical significance after the necessary corrections in his data.
Sachs committed suicide on 7 May 2011 by a gunshot wound to the head at his home in Gstaad, Switzerland. The suicide note stated that he acted because of what he defined as "hopeless illness A." (which some have speculated to be Alzheimer's) adding that "The loss of mental control over my life was an undignified condition, which I decided to counter decisively".
- Sachs, Gunter: The Astrology File: Scientific Proof of the Link Between Star Signs and Human Behaviour. Orion Books (December 1999). ISBN 0-7528-1789-2
- Elwell, Dennis: Cosmic Loom, 2nd edition 1999. The Urania Trust. ISBN 0-04-133027-7. Discussion and interpretation of some of Gunter Sachs results and related material.
- "Billionaire playboy Gunter Sachs commits suicide over 'illness A'". The Montreal Gazette. 8 May 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
- "Ex-German Playboy Gunter Sachs commits suicide". Asian News International (London). 9 May 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- 'Schweinfurt Under the Swastika'
- Wilfried Rott: 'Der braune Schatten' (German)
- 'Ich stand nie für das Ewig-Gestrige', (German) Süddeutsche Zeitung, 13 February 2006.
- Legendary Playboy Gunter Sachs is Dead (German) Der Spiegel, 8 May 2011.
- Bruno Waterfield (8 May 2011). "Gunter Sachs, former husband of Brigitte Bardot, shoots himself in Swiss chalet". Telegraph (London). Retrieved 8 May 2011.
- "People: Nov. 14, 1969". Time. 14 November 1969.
- "Gunter Sachs, the German playboy who married Bardot, commits suicide at 78". Daily Mail (London). 9 May 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
- "Brigitte Bardot's ex commits suicide". Toronto Sun. 8 May 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
- Mark Brown (7 May 2011), The Gunter Sachs appeal – life and legacy of the playboy art collector The Guardian.
- Dennis Heves (9 May 2011), Gunter Sachs, Ex-Husband of Brigitte Bardot, Dies at 78 New York Times.
- Herbert Basler: "Die Akte Astrologie" von Gunter Sachs aus Sicht der Mathematischen Statistik, Skeptiker, Issue 3/1998 (online, German)
- Belgian news report
- German news report
- "German photographer and 'playboy' Gunter Sachs commits suicide". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
- http://www.guntersachs.ch/ (German)
- http://www.gunter-sachs.de (German)
- Obituary of Gunter Sachs, The Daily Telegraph, 9 May 2011