CORRECTION: It’s been pointed out to me that I got my wires crossed in the 5th paragraph below (now crossed out) about the divorce. I erroneously linked back to my blog post of February 2017 where People had just announced Bourdain was dating Asia Argento. The replacement paragraph has a correct link to the original September 2016 Page Six article about the divorce.
I’ve felt like a mouse bumping into blank maze walls while trying to uncover what led Anthony Bourdain to die June 8 by suicide. But I’ve gained a few insights from a source I can’t name (sorry!) who’s close enough to the situation to have unquestionable validity. Please, just trust me.
First, I’ve been completely wrong to suspect Tony suffered from an underlying medical condition. The rumor about Parkinson’s is untrue. He had a thorough health exam several weeks ago and checked out fine, although he’d resumed smoking and drinking heavily while involved with Asia (which anyone could see).
Tony’s ashes were returned to New York on Friday, June 15, to his brother Chris. I believe there’s still no decision among his close family on how to pay proper final respects. Knowing Tony’s disdain for pomp and formality, he didn’t leave them many options.
We’ve established that Tony was with Asia in spring 2016 filming Parts Unknown in Rome. He was still living with Ottavia and Ariane in New York City at the time, although they were all amicably doing their own thing.
In February 2017, Tony told Page Six that he and Ottavia had been apart for some time, which blindsided her and Ariane. He then got his own apartment, but continued to be involved in Ariane’s daily routine whenever he was in town.
Correction: On September 19, 2016, Page Six ran an article based on “sources close to” the Bourdains who said they had officially separated, had been estranged for a while, and that “there was no one else involved.” Hmmm… Actually, they had recently returned from their annual family vacation together in the Hamptons. The public announcement came as a surprise to Ottavia and Ariane, but Ottavia went along and confirmed it with a carefully worded statement. Tony then moved out and got his own apartment.
He eventually confessed to Ottavia that the separation announcement was at Asia’s urging, presumably so she could step up as Tony’s new partner, which was announced in February 2017.
As he did with first wife Nancy when he met Ottavia, Bourdain took no further steps toward divorce. He said recently he never intended to marry again. He still spent holidays and special occasions with his family in New York.
However, you won’t find those good times anywhere because friends were careful not to post them to help Tony keep Asia believing his split with Ottavia was solid and permanent.
I don’t know how Asia expected him to spend five days a month with Ariane, which he mentioned often with fondness, without seeing her mother, but she’s never been known for clarity of thought.
Basically, Asia demanded that Tony lead a double personal life, in addition to his grueling, nonstop professional schedule.
Ottavia’s social media accounts show scant, if any, mentions of her husband after the separation was announced. I thought it was their mutual agreement to move on. But, to borrow words from Princess Diana, it was more because there were now “three in the marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
Although still legally married to Tony and raising his child, Ottavia essentially became “the other woman.”
I’ve also verified the account by the unnamed friend in People who revealed that Tony was so besotted with Asia, it raised red flags among his friends. The word used to describe it to me was “brainwashed.”
To keep my source’s anonymity safe, I can’t provide more detail now. Suffice it to say that Asia kept the affair tempestuous, and Tony would do anything to keep her happy.
The sad irony is that Bourdain proudly claimed his success was due to his finely honed bullshit detector that helped him avoid assholes. In the end, he got suckered by an asshole who shoveled more bullshit on him than he could live with.
Blogspot blogger Bruce Elliott: Geriatric Genius had good rapport with Tony whenever he was in Chicago. Bruce has written eloquently about Bourdain, Asia and Rose. I can’t sum it up any better than he did in his post describing Tony’s ultimate despair, “To Be Crushed In The Winepress Of Passion”…
“I don’t think tears of jealousy filled his eyes when he saw the photos of Hugo and Asia. I think it was her calculated vindictiveness. Instead of jealousy, I think he was overwhelmed with humiliation.”
AND: For the record, this article for the Hollywood Reporter from June 2 may stand as the last writing for publication Tony ever did. He describes living his “cinematic dream” of shooting the now-infamous Hong Kong episode. He effusively praised Asia and her work ethic, although Instagram posts by justicefortony and others describe her as a nightmare.
I believe them because Bourdain rendered his whole tale suspect by disingenuously marveling at how Zach Zamboni and two other photographers were lucky enough to be “mentored” by Christopher Doyle.
Zach Zamboni, Bourdain’s long-time director of photography, has earned three Primetime Emmys and seven nominations for his cinematography, yet Tony FIRED Zach in Hong Kong for allegedly disagreeing with Asia about something.
In this article, Tony also revealed he had gotten an Asia tattoo. Scant honor, since he described his body art as like adding dents to an old car. In any case, they’re all ashes now.