Bourdain’s Ex-Girlfriend Keeps Stirring the Pot – Why?

July 25, 2018

By Karen

It’s been nearly seven weeks since Anthony Bourdain died by suicide on June 8 in Strasbourg, France, while filming an episode of Parts Unknown with his best friend, Eric Ripert.

A week later, Tony’s ashes were flown home and a small private funeral service was being planned for family and close friends. I haven’t seen other information on that, nor word of any public memorial, although murals and dinners and special menus to honor Bourdain have been spontaneously springing up at restaurants everywhere.

The family has been largely silent, except for occasional pings from Tony’s wife Ottavia here and there that indicate she’s keeping tabs on what’s being posted about him on social media.

It’s left a huge vacuum for Bourdain fans, who are still searching for answers. Yes, Tony talked about suicide over the years. Yes, he talked about feeling depressed sometimes. Yes, he looked tired and listless in the last Parts Unknown CNN aired.

Bourdain described in his book, Medium Raw, how he fantasized about ending his life during a visit to St. Martin after splitting from his first wife, Nancy, around 2005. At that time, his fame was budding, he wasn’t long out of debt, and he was childless. As he’d say in the intro to A Cook’s Tour, he “had nothing to lose.”

But he didn’t do it.

From then, his life seemed to take two steps forward for every step back until he was an internationally recognized voice for cultural tolerance who attracted an enormous following, as evidenced by worldwide outpourings of shock and grief at the news of his death.

We’re still asking why. Who may have influenced him? What sent him over the edge this time?

And into that void steps his former girlfriend, Asia Argento, 42, an Italian actress he’d been seeing since April 2016 and supporting in many ways.

Because you can Google the dirt, I’m going to skip her history with Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo movement and her previous relationships with men except one — Hugo Clement.

Since Bourdain’s death, Argento has been active on Twitter and Instagram, ping-ponging from sadness to jubilation to defiance and anger.

People magazine reproduced a photo Asia recently published of herself with Tony during his penultimate Parts Unknown shoot in Florence, taken May 27. This was the Sunday before Argento spent a weekend in Rome with Clement.

[NOTE: I’ll provide links to, but not post, recent photos of Argento because I simply don’t want her face on Cats Working.]

During Argento’s weekend with Clement, two different paparazzi, one in a bar and one in the streets, photographed the couple dancing, flirting, holding hands, hugging. They were seen in the lobby of the hotel where she often stayed with Bourdain.

The photos were published on Tuesday, June 5. By Friday morning, Bourdain was dead. This prompted a backlash against Argento for cheating, although she claimed through her proxy, Rose McGowan, that her romance with Tony was “open.”

People who seem to have been close to Bourdain but are remaining anonymous claim that after the paparazzi photos came out, Tony and Argento were frequently fighting by phone and interrupting the shoot in France.

Ten days after Bourdain’s death, the Daily Mail reported that Argento had posted on social media, “Life’s a bitch, and then you die.”

Three weeks after Tony’s death, the Daily Mail reported on Argento’s continuing grief process by publishing her series of latest “fuck you” messages and a nude selfie.

Now it’s nearly two months later, and Argento has shifted into full attack mode, as revealed by writer Leah McSweeney, who wrote on Instagram that she received an email from Asia’s attorney demanding that she take down her Penthouse opinion piece, “HOT LINES: Can We Talk About Toxic Femininity?”, and apologize to Argento.

Just within the past week, Argento took to Twitter to dispute the timeline of the French authorities. In the U.S., Bourdain was reportedly found hanging and unresponsive sometime early on Friday, June 8, after he failed to show up for breakfast with Ripert. (Keep in mind that France is 6 hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast).

Argento’s tweet said:

She apparently got the date wrong because Tony was in a French morgue by 9 p.m. June 8, so she must have meant Thursday, June 7.

French authorities later added that Bourdain had alcohol in his system.

If her tweet is true, it would seem that Argento has shown her hand. She was in contact with Tony, who was probably drinking, as late as Thursday at 9 p.m., which might explain why he failed to show up for dinner with Ripert that night.

In an extensive interview Bourdain gave to Maria Bustillos of Popula in February 2018, he recalled an argument he’d had with Argento where she said things that hurt him deeply. He explained, “…we’re texting back and forth, ‘cause we only argue by text.”

That indicates he and Asia were texting that Thursday night. And now Tony’s brother Chris has his phone and everything that may still be on it. It remains to be seen if the rest of that story will ever come out.

The question is, why is Argento digging her hole even deeper as a contributing factor in Bourdain’s suicide? Is it an insatiable need for attention, good or bad? Or perhaps it’s because she’s unwilling to let go of the celebrity-by-association she gained from being with Anthony Bourdain, which has been reduced to a sad little footnote at the end of the last page of his life story.

I hope one day Bourdain’s family and friends will heal to the point where they can speak on the record and bring some closure to this loss by providing whatever facts they know about what happened. In the meantime, Argento can spin it whichever way she wants.

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More Bits on Bourdain’s Last Months from WSJ

July 11, 2018

By Karen

Some new information about Anthony Bourdain’s last months has been out there in an extensive interview by Howie Kahn in the Wall Street Journal, but I only recently found it.

It was published online March 28 under the title, “Anthony Bourdain’s Globalist Mission.” (I got to view it once, then got blocked for not being a subscriber, so take your chances.)

A print version published in April was entitled, “The Man Who Ate It All.” These are the bits new to me that I gleaned from it.

Tony was living alone on the 64th floor in a Midtown Manhattan apartment with floor-to-ceiling windows providing views of the city and the Hudson River.

At 11:30 a.m., he was already drinking beer (and smoking). It must have been early January when Trump called African countries “shitholes” because Kahn described Tony’s January 17 appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah as if he were there.

Parts Unknown was the highest rated cable news program in its time slot and nominated for 25 Emmys, with five wins.

Tony said, “Am I searching, am I seeking, am I always looking for something more? Yes! I do this for no other reason.”

He had hung photos of Fidel Castro and Iggy Pop on the walls, but his bedroom walls were bare. Perhaps that’s where he was planning to hang his newly acquired paintings from Jacques Pepin and “The Sky is Falling. I’m Learning to Live with It.”

Kahn wrote that Tony and Asia Argento “had fallen in love while shooting the Rome episode.” (April 2016) He goes on…

“In retrospect, it was also an extended first date, and one Bourdain thought was coming to an end too soon amid the fascist architecture. ‘It was a very sad scene,’ he says. ‘I think both of us thought it overwhelmingly likely that we would never see each other again.’”

If only.

The article said Tony’s marriage to Ottavia was ending, and by the time he met Argento, “he’d given up on the concept of romantic love. ‘I was dead,’ he says.”

This confirmed my belief that the affair began when he and Argento were together in Rome and served as an impetus for separating from Ottavia in September. (In December 2016, he drew up his will leaving the bulk of his estate to daughter Ariane.)

Tony also mentioned the book he was working on, described as…

“A collection of essays, many of which will touch on the theme of loneliness — will be more emotional than anything he’s ever attempted.”

Was it finished enough to publish? Will his co-author Laurie Woolever be able to finish it? Time will tell.

Tony said he was also trying to line up financing for a scripted TV project, but only revealed that each season of it would have taken place in different locales, like New York, Berlin and Tokyo.

The interview ended with Kahn asking Tony if he was ever exhausted and would like more balance in his life. Tony said…

“Too late for that. I think about it. I aspire to it. I feel guilty about it. I yearn for it. Balance? I f–cking wish.”

Tony added that he once told Ariane he might quit his job in a few years to spend more time with her, but she burst into tears, saying, “But Dada, your job is so interesting!”

This conversation may have happened around the time Tony told People magazine that he’d probably “die in the saddle.”

My takeaway is that Bourdain had wearied of his globe-trotting and wanted a way out but couldn’t find one. Argento gave him periodic breaks where he could stay still and be happy for a few days. But then she yanked those out from under him in the most public and humiliating way possible.

It leaves a conundrum for his fans. We loved his body of work and wanted it to keep growing, but it had stopped making him happy. The more we learn, the more his suicide seems to become the inevitable end of his life’s arc, rather than the tragedy of an impulsive moment.

Reader Morgan sent these two photos from Facebook of Tony and Ottavia in happier times, as I prefer to think of them…

PS: Last week I saw Drugstore Cowboy, the movie about a junkie couple that Bourdain always likened to his marriage to Nancy. Near the end, Matt Dillon (Tony) makes a speech that seems to explain Tony’s inexplicable, fatal attraction to Argento…

“Nobody, and I mean nobody, can talk a junkie out of using. You can talk to ‘em for years, but sooner or later they’re going to get hold of something. Maybe it’s not dope. Maybe it’s booze. Maybe it’s blue. Maybe it’s gasoline. Maybe it’s a gunshot to their head. But something, something to relieve the pressures of their everyday life, like having to tie their shoes.”

Whenever someone dies, their raison d’etre is instantly frozen in time. They can add nothing to their persona or philosophy of life. Those left behind can only dissect what the person ever did or said to form a conclusion about who they were and why they’re gone. We’ve reached that point with Bourdain, and he would hate it.


Anthony Bourdain’s Death: What We Know So Far

June 18, 2018

By Karen

In case you’ve been under a rock the past week or so, on Friday morning, June 8, in Le Chambard Hotel in the town of Kayersburg, in Strasbourg, France, while on a shoot for Parts Unknown, Eric Ripert found Anthony Bourdain hanging from the belt of his hotel-supplied bathrobe in the bathroom of his room.

Bourdain’s body was transported to nearby Colmar, where it remained for five days, the typical time to complete French formalities in such situations.

The authorities almost immediately ruled it a suicide, but took urine and blood for a toxicology report.

By Tuesday, June 12, Eric Ripert seemed to be back in New York because he tweeted a landmark there.

On Wednesday, June 13, Bourdain’s body was cremated. He was to be returned to the U.S. on Friday, June 15. This is where the story stops.

But backing up a bit…

On Tuesday, June 5, photos of Bourdain’s girlfriend, Asia Argento, 42, were published online, showing her in Rome on Monday, behaving overly friendly with 28-year-old French reporter Hugo Clement. Hugo had apparently accompanied Asia to the Cannes Film Festival, where on May 19, she took the stage and denounced the festival as Harvey Weinstein’s “hunting ground.”

Bourdain had publicly praised Argento’s courage at Cannes.

More photos of Argento and Hugo dancing and flirting in a restaurant were published by another paparazzi in a restaurant sometime over the weekend immediately prior. This was the same weekend the Hong Kong episode of Parts Unknown, which Bourdain had hired Argento to direct and he considered the pinnacle of his career, was aired in the U.S.

On June 8, three hours before Bourdain’s death was announced, Argento posted a photo of herself on Instagram wearing a T-shirt that said “Fuck Everyone,” with the caption, “You know who you are.” She later deleted it.

Bourdain was not yet divorced from Ottavia, so she is next of kin and Bourdain’s mother Gladys said Ottavia is in charge of all further arrangements.

Now, here’s what we don’t know…

Did Bourdain, a prolific and constant writer, leave a note or anything explaining his mental state?

Who last saw him alive? When was that? What was his demeanor? Did he say anything?

What was the exact time of death? He missed dinner Thursday night and breakfast Friday morning before he was found. That’s a large window of time when it could have happened.

Will results of the toxicology report ever be released?

Was there any communication between him and Argento from June 5 when her photos surfaced and June 8, when he was pronounced dead?

What became of his electronic devices that would most likely have those answers: phone, iPad, laptop? Last we knew of them, they were in a safe in France.

Did he ashes arrive safely back in New York?

Has there been a private funeral?

Will there be a public memorial?

Argento has posted photos and cryptic messages on Instagram, and authorized a bizarre rant in her defense by Rose McGowan. Will those two go any further to claim attention for themselves to capitalize on this tragedy?

AND: Remember the West Virginia episode that opened season 11 of Parts Unknown? Apparently, Bourdain borrowed a miner’s lunch pail for some shooting and forgot it in the mine. That family will never forget Tony. Here’s what happened.


Bourdain Cremated, Coming Home

June 13, 2018

By Karen

According to People, Anthony Bourdain’s remains were cremated today in France and his ashes will be flown to New York on Friday. There’s no word on whether anyone close to him is in France right now. Eric Ripert was there through the weekend, but he posted a tweet early yesterday morning indicating he was back in New York.

I still haven’t seen any results of the toxicology report. And it would appear that no other testing will be done for underlying illness or cause since the body is now gone.

There’s been no memorial service announced, but I can’t imagine that some celebration of his life won’t happen. Arrangements are in Ottavia’s hands.

Asia Argento and her “spokeswoman” Rose McGowan seem to have gone blessedly silent online about what a victim this has made of Asia, and here’s hoping they remain so.

I’ll share some extras that I or Cats Working readers have found. If you haven’t been following developments in the comments on my posts, these may interest you…

Bourdain’s father Pierre died at age 57 of a heart attack when Tony was 20, and his remains were also cremated and given to someone (presumably to scatter). I would expect Tony to wish the same for himself. Here’s Pierre’s obituary with his photo. See any resemblance?

Zamir Gotta, Tony’s zany Russian friend who accompanied him on a number of adventures over the years, posted a link to a “must read” interview Men’s Journal from the October 2011 print edition. It contains a lot of Bourdain’s philosophy of life, and makes you wonder what changed his attitude about perseverance.

Zamir also wrote his own tribute to Tony for the Hollywood Reporter.

Finally, here’s an almost exhaustive article about his life from the New Yorker. It’s the only one where I’ve ever seen first wife Nancy discuss their marriage (or anything, for that matter). Near the end, it also details how Tony emailed Nancy immediately after he had an earlier health scare while he was traveling alone in France around 2013.

Unless there are new developments, such as a surprise in the toxicology report or some writing Tony left behind that has any bearing, it feels as if we’re finally approaching closure and can be thankful for what little we knew of him, rather than grieve over the loss of what we’ll never know.

The one consolation is that he left behind such a huge body of writing and film to be enjoyed for years to come. Oh, and Netflix decided NOT to remove Parts Unknown from streaming this month as scheduled.


Piecing Together Bourdain’s Last Days, Aftermath

June 10, 2018

By Karen

Although the toxicology report isn’t back yet, the New York Times reports that French authorities have concluded no foul play involved in Anthony Bourdain’s death, and they’re releasing his body so his family can bring him home.

Exactly when Tony killed himself seems unknown. He failed to show up on Thursday night (June 7) for dinner with Eric Ripert as they had been doing all week, but apparently no one checked on him.

When Tony didn’t come down to breakfast Friday morning and didn’t answer his phone, Eric had someone from the hotel let him into Tony’s room, and that’s when he discovered Tony dead. The Times story (link above) says…

“When Mr. Bourdain’s body was found, the hotel staff immediately called the local gendarmerie, which arrived within less than half an hour and sealed off Mr. Bourdain’s hotel room for the day. His belongings were put into a safe, and his body was taken out the backdoor to Colmar, the nearest city, where the local prosecutor opened an investigation.”

Tony is in the Colmar morgue until he can be flown home, and the investigation has apparently been closed.

Page Six reported on how the Parts Unknown crew was busy setting up one of Bourdain’s classic market strolls nearby while Eric was back at the hotel as tragedy unfolded. This story also has a bit more on Tony’s mother Gladys’ reaction.

Four days before his death, Tony and Eric dined in Colmar at Wistub La Petite Venise, where Tony had braised pork knuckle, sauerkraut and sausage, which was the last photo he posted on Instagram. The restaurant has since become a tourist destination, with people wanting to see and sit at the same table.

Citing an unknown source close to Bourdain, Page Six reported that Tony was exhausted in his final months, working like a maniac. This was clearly borne out by his haggard appearance. I wonder if it was just fatigue, or if Tony knew something else was going on with his health, although he seemed to give no indication of that if he did.

And now here’s where it gets really weird. Tony’s girlfriend, Asia Argento, according to People, was apparently Instagramming a lot on Thursday with various stuff. Then about three hours before news broke of Tony’s death, she posted a photo of herself wearing a T-shirt that said “FUCK EVERYONE” and captioned it, “You know who you are.”

That post has since been taken down.

I believe Eric Ripert has remained in France, probably to escort his friend’s body home. I base this on a poignant tweet I saw yesterday from his wife asking him to come home and telling him that he is loved. I feel so sorry for Ripert. He can never unsee what he found in that bathroom. Perhaps once he processes everything, he’ll be willing and able to provide a bit more context.

I haven’t heard from nor seen any statement from Ottavia. I’m sure her hands are more than full with questions and helping daughter Ariane understand and try to get through this. My heart goes out to both of them.

Also no word yet on a funeral or memorial service. If anyone has more facts to add to any of these points, please comment.

AND: Here’s an interview Tony gave People published May 16 where he talked about never retiring and “dying in the saddle.” I thought it was a particularly good piece, and again, it gave no indication that anything sinister was going on with him.


Bourdain is Moving On

February 22, 2017

By Karen

Finally catching up on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, I watched the Rome episode the other night. Must admit I preferred his highly stylized black-and-white visit on No Reservations, but that’s not to say Parts Unknown is lacking. There has been something in every episode that grabs me in some way.

But what I didn’t catch in Rome was any vibe between Tony and the woman he spent a lot of air time with, Asia Argento. In hindsight, the scene of Tony in a grocery store with Asia and her two kids should have tipped me off. You have to be totally ga-ga about someone to tag along on that chore — with kids.

Anyway, Page Six and People just made it official. They’re an item. “Bourgento”? Asia is 41, Italian, divorced, tatted, and her Wikipedia entry lists her as an “actress, director, singer, model, DJ, writer.” A real Renaissance woman.

bourdain-argento-pagesix-gettyimages

Page Six – Getty Images

Did I mention she bears some resemblance to pre-MMA Ottavia?

If Tony’s happy, I’m happy, although I was hoping for someone age-appropriate. But we did see him bounce around after his first marriage with a few unlikely chicks before he fell for Ottavia, so I’ll still hold out hope for Nigella Lawson.

And now that I know he had something going on in Rome, that scene in the London episode of Nigella cooking Tony breakfast takes on new significance. I didn’t rewind to double-check, but was he wearing the same clothes from the night before, or was it my wishful thinking?

On the other hand, knowing how scenes get juxtaposed in the final cut, I’ll give Tony the benefit of the doubt that he and Nigella are still “just good friends.”

Bourdain recently gave an extensive interview to the New Yorker, for which author Patrick Radden Keefe deserves kudos for exhaustive research. (Note: This is the same piece I linked to as a must-read in the comments on an earlier post.)

Keefe gathered input from Nigella, Tony’s buddy Eric Ripert, brother Chris, and a host of others, including Ottavia. But the biggest coup was comments from first wife Nancy, who has been silent and elusive since the Bourdains divorced in 2005. Keefe reveals that Tony wrote to Nancy after he had a health scare while vacationing alone in France.

As always, Bourdain is pursuing myriad projects, including plans for Bourdain Market at Pier 57 in New York City, and popping up everywhere. Also, Bourdain and Ripert teamed with Williams-Sonoma to sell the limited-edition Good & Evil chocolate bar again. I think the price dropped from $18 to $12.95.

We original Cats Working Bourdainiacs have watched Tony achieve a level of fame where he makes the AOL homepage whenever he disses Donald Trump. I’m sharing just a few tidbits that have been highlights for me.

BONUS: Here’s an interesting in-depth analysis by Maria Bustillos for Eater of Bourdain’s three early novels and how they may have reflected the real Bourdain back in the days before his TV fame.


Bourdain Slurps Noodles with Obama

September 23, 2016

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain’s CNN series Parts Unknown is worth watching Sunday, September 25, 9 p.m. ET. He’s in Hanoi, Vietnam, and shares noodles and beer with President Obama in a small local joint.

Obama’s approval rating is at about 58%, so having a beer with a popular guy like Bourdain can only reflect well on Hillary. In fact, it’s a shame it’s not Hillary.

The intended contrast with Donald Trump is unmistakable. Not only would Trump never be caught dead in such humble surroundings, but you know he can’t use chopsticks and he’s incapable of small talk.

Luckily for Bourdain, Angelina Jolie’s divorce from Brad Pitt immediately eclipsed the Bourdain breakup announcement. The Bourdains can’t hope to have drama that remotely compares to allegations of Pitt being a substance- and child-abuser.

Today I read this Washington Post article where Tony mentions being in London during the Brexit vote (Parts Unknown to air Oct. 23) and did a double-take at the undated CNN photo of Nigella Lawson making Tony breakfast in her home.

Breakfast?!

As I’ve pondered Bourdain’s post-Ottavia life, the woman who sprang to mind as his next potential companion was Nigella. They’ve known each other for years, and he was there for her when her marriage fell apart while they were filming The Taste together.

I am absolutely NOT implying any illicit behavior, but if Tony does end up on his own, he could do a lot worse than Nigella. In fact, he DID do a lot worse before he met Ottavia.

On Parts Unknown last season, Bourdain wore no wedding ring. I should have mentioned months ago that it was his best ever, winning his 4th straight Outstanding Series Emmy. I’ve forgotten details, but every episode touched me in some way — tears, laughter, sheer wonder at the amazing cinematography.

Ottavia published an article in August on Lena Dunham’s site Lenny about how she got into MMA. Her byline included her maiden name and mentioned only her daughter, as if she’s a single mother.

So hints about the breakup were out there, even before the big announcement.

Bourdain has a new home-cooking book coming out on October 25 called Appetites. And he revealed in a recent interview with Uproxx that he’s about to start another book. I wonder what happened to the novel he’s been working on for years?

BONUS: Bourdain’s Russian sidekick Zamir Gotta has permanently defected to Buffalo, New York, to launch Zamir Vodka. And Trump’s worried about Mexicans.

DOUBLE BONUS: Here’s Bourdain’s latest episode of Raw Craft, a series he does for Balvenie Distillery featuring expert craftspeople. This one is in North Carolina with a pearl-wearing metalsmith named Elizabeth Brim.


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