By Sylvia Chase
When a man calling himself Christopher Rockefeller showed up in the Hamptons this summer, the patrician name seemed oddly incongruous with his French accent. And then there was the garish, zigzag tattoo encircling his bicep.
Some thought it odd that that he showed crude skill with knife and fork.
But the Long Island, New York resort villages are a kind of summer playpen for the worlds wealthy and in the Hamptons, a little unorthodox behavior is usually tolerated.
Also, this unconventional Rockefeller showed every sign of wealth and ease. He flew into East Hampton airport on helicopters from Manhattan, attended by a male assistant. He partied all night at posh restaurants and clubs, treating his guests to Dom Perignon champagne and fine cigars. There was always a beautiful woman at his side. Soon, otherwise sophisticated Hamptonites were handing over thousands of dollars to Rockefeller to invest. They say he promised quick and easy returns.
A lot of people are very impressionable, says Los Angeles District Attorney Investigator George Mueller, who has been tracking the so-called Rockefeller, whom he calls a con man, since 1997.
Rocancourt, not Rockefeller
Rockefeller is really Christopher Rocancourt, born 33 years ago to a housepainter and his wife in Honfleur, France. He is alleged to have been in trouble with the law most of his life.
During five years in Los Angeles, Rocancourt hobnobbed with actor Mickey Rourke, bragged of supposed business deals with Jean Claude Van Damme, kept a fancy suite at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and made the scene at Beverly Hills and Hollywood hot spots. His beautiful girlfriends included Pia Reyes, a former Playboy playmate and softcore porn actress whom he married. All of it was camouflage, Mueller argues, for his con. He scammed investors in Los Angeles, says Mueller, as well as in Europe, Asia and Canada.
In an affidavit Mueller prepared to obtain a search warrant, he said that Rocancourts criminal record begins in 1991, when he was involved in a jewelry store robbery in Geneva, Switzerland. Interpol reports several hundreds of thousands of francs-worth of jewelry was stolen, but the Swiss case against Rocancourt was apparently so weak , authorities merely banished him from Switzerland until 2016.
Law enforcement sources say the FBI warned Los Angeles authorities that Rocancourt was often armed. Mueller says the young thief led a high lifestyle, renting limousines, hiring bodyguards and staying in palaces.
New Region, New Victims
None of this was known in Bridgehampton when Rocancourt was introduced to Kim Curry and her fiance. Over two days in August, there were tennis, dining and drinking and a promise from Rockefeller that he would loan the couple a half-million dollars in exchange for $50,000 cash up front.
There was really no reason at that point for us to believe that he was not Christopher Rockefeller of the Rockefeller family, says Curry.
Its much the same in Los Angeles, where a woman who would not disclose her name says she lost about $170,000 to Rocancourt, believing she was investing in a clothing store. In an attempt to get her money back, she met Rocancourt at the LePark Hotel in Los Angeles in 1997, where a business associate of the alleged con man was found dead in his room. She says Rocancourt then told her, If you ever tell anyone about what Ive done, youre gonna take a long nap.
Investigator Mueller believes Rocancourt probably had a hand in the death of Don Miguel, described as an Italian lawyer. Our sources say that they were here to launder $4 million.
But the exact cause of Miguels death has never been determined, says Mueller, because the bodys been cremated.
Mueller finally had Rocancourt in custody in 1998, following a violent shootout on the streets of West Hollywood. But he posted bail and seemed to disappear until this summer.
Caught, But at Large
Rocancourts sojourn in the Hamptons was cut short, however, when he persuaded a masseuse to give him $14,000 to invest, during a 20-minute conversation at a gym in East Hampton. A friend grew suspicious.
I called the Rockefeller Foundation, says Kevin McCrary. They said absolutely not. There is no French Rockefeller. No one named Christopher.
Two days later, East Hampton detectives picked up the fugitive outside the gym. In a computer check, his aliases and bogus identifications masked his criminal record. The link to his Los Angeles crimes went undetected for several weeks.
After one night in jail, Rockefellers $45,000 bail was posted by none other than Bruce Cutler, lawyer to mob godfather John Gotti. He presented a passport which identified his client as Fabian Ortuno.
And that is the last anyone has seen of Christopher Rocancourt, though not the end of his criminal career, in the opinion of Los Angeles Investigator George Mueller.
You could drop Christopher in any country, any city, he says. He would be able to survive, because he has that gift and he has that look where he gets people to believe in him.
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