I do not think there is a word in English nor Dutch to describe the German word: Lebenskünstler. Too bad, i might add, because it says everything about the person who is subject to it. Although experiencing a lot of heartache in his lifetime, he did show the world how it is being done. Not only inheriting a company, but then making it even more profitable, buying some artwork in the eighties that turns out to be your best investment ever or starting a succesful photographing and filming career. It all happened to Gunter Sachs.
He was the great-grandson of Adam Opel, the founder of the Opel car company and his father Willy Sachs was the great industrialist from Schweinfurt and sole owner of Fichtel & Sachs. Gunter was not short of any wealth in his childhood, he did not see much of his father though. His grandmother did most of the raising of him and his brother Ernst-Wilhelm. Born in 1932 he did experience the war from the perspective of a high-ranked German family. His father was very close with Heinrich Himmler, and was himself an SS office with number: 87.064 since 1933. After the war this, among other things, led to the divorce of his parents. Gunter and his brother left to Switzerland with their mother. His father commited suicide in 1958 with his hunting riffle. That year Gunther's first wife Anne-Marie Faure also died in surgery.
Gunter was now one of the richest bachelors in Europe and he used his inheritance and business acumen to fund a glamorous lifestyle that fascinated many in post-war Germany of the 1960s and 70s. He was a high-profile member of the jet set. German tabloids reported extensively on his affairs with celebrities and friendships with artists such as Andy Warhol. Sachs was romantically linked in the early 1960s with Iranian queen Soraya Esfandiary. He married French actress Bardot in 1966 in an eight-minute ceremony in Las Vegas, just weeks after they met.
By now his mother and brother had died, he had one boy from his first marriage with Anne-Marie. The marriage to Bardot only lasted 3 years. Sachs met his soon the be third wife Mirja Larsson, who gave him 2 boys and with who he stayed until his death in 2011. Just like his father before him, Gunter committed suicide in his home in Gstaad. He simply could not live with the big A. (Alzheimer).
He became an art-collector in the early eighties. Him bringing Warhol to Europe is a story that says it all. Sachs invited all his friends and relatives to Warhols first exhibition in Europe, because he knew Andy was going to be big...however no one bought any of Warhols work. Just before the artist arrived in Hamburg, Sachs ran around the venue sticking SOLD-stickers on more than half of his works. He wanted to make a good impression and show Andy that his works would sell..that was the best investment he ever made!!
During the years he obtained works by Dali, Tinguely, Warhol, Lichtenstein, Wesselmann, Mel Ramos, Allen Jones and many more. After his death, the family auctioned some of his art works, fetching over £ 35 million. 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.
Next to all this he managed to pursue a career as documentary maker and photographer. - I had to film a hippo coming out of the water once and it took so many days, I decided to photograph women from that moment on -. In 1973 he caused a stir with the first nude photograph in 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 among others. All of his proceeds from sales went to his wife's foundation for children.
Sometimes you need to stand still by some larger-than-life characters. To me, Gunter Sachs is one of them.