A jailhouse interview with “Clark Rockefeller,” who authorities believe is really Christian Gerhartsreiter of Germany, will be broadcast Monday and Tuesday on NBC’s Today Show.
According to an article on MSNBC.com, the bogus Rockefeller now claims that his ex-wife knew he wasn’t really a Rockefeller, and used the name to advance her career. Still, he insists that he doesn’t remember if he is Christian Gerhartsreiter, and he grew up in New York City.
UPDATE 8/25/08 – See the first Today Show interview.
Rockefeller in the New York Times
I wonder if the Today Show interview will be as clueless as a story in today’s New York Times.
Plastered across the front of the Sunday Styles section was a half-page photo of Gerhartsreiter’s scruffy face, next to the headline, Ready-Made Rockefeller.
“What traits of background and character drove him to concoct his aristocratic aliases, which convinced some who met him, even as others were dubious?” asked the authors, Pam Belluck and Sara Rimer.
In an article that took up a full page and a half, they only came up with two answers:
• Gerhartsreiter’s lawyer, Stephen B. Hrones, said that because the guy is under 5 feet 5 inches tall, “he concocted ‘tall tales’ to build himself up.”
• And the good people of Cornish, New Hampshire, where Gerhartsreiter and his former wife, Sandra Boss, shared a home, speculated that he was hiding from his past, which might include the murder of a California couple.
Reading the article, of course, I see all the signs of a textbook psychopath:
• The Times wrote that Gerhartsreiter had “impressive conversational knowledge of everything from physics to art to the stock market.” Psychopaths often claim to be experts in an impossible range of fields. My ex-husband, James Montgomery, literally told me that he knew everything.
• The Times wrote, “Among the autobiographical details he reportedly told various people at various times: his parents had been kidnapped in south America and he needed to pay ransom; he and his friends were ‘Star Trek’ groupies who conversed in Klingon, a private chef made four-course meals for his dogs; and he became a mute as a child for 10 years because he was distraught at the death of his parents in a car crash.” Can anyone say pathological liar?
• The Times wrote that in 1981, he married a woman in Wisconsin, “apparently to get a green card,” and then immediately disappeared. Using marriage to gain a benefit—now there’s a common Lovefraud theme.
• The Times wrote that, according to the guy who cut Gerhartsreiter’s hair, the con artist ingratiated himself with women at the Episcopal church, getting free meals and concert tickets in return. Have any of us dealt with a manipulative parasite?
• Finally, the Times described how, after Gerhartsreiter and Boss divorced, he showed up at a gallery party hosted by art dealer friends. “He was the life of the party that night, he really was,” the art dealer said. Charming, glib, grandiose—that’s how psychopaths reel people in.
But nowhere in the entire article did the authors mention psychopath, sociopath, or personality disorder. So the clueless media, in a case as blatant as the fake Rockefeller, again miss an opportunity to educate the public about these dangerous predators.