On April 14, the estate of the late socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor will go up for auction. And the man putting her belongings up for sale is her widower and last husband, Prince Frederic von Anhalt, who is finally opening up about his true past—and how his relationship with Gabor started with a lie.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Von Anhalt admitted that he swindled and bought his way to his fancy title, which is technically Prince Frederic von Anhalt, Duke of Saxony and Westphalia, Count of Ascania. He was born Hans Robert Lichtenberg, and his parents were a bookkeeper and a police detective. He bought his title by being “adopted” by Princess Marie-Auguste von Anhalt in exchange for 2000 marks a month. “I needed a door-opener. It was a tool,” Von Anhalt said. “This was a business decision—show business.”
He then used his title to make money, through sham marriages and adoptions and selling off knighthoods; he said he made more than $10 million that way. It's said that he adopted at least 10 male adults, who all paid to use his name and title and sold off 68 knighthoods for $50,000 each. And later, he became Prince Regent of the Principality of Sealand, a country established on an aircraft platform by people who wanted to dodge taxes; he quit that position in 1983. These days, you can become a duke of Sealand for $734.99.
Prince Frederic von Anhalt poses at a 44-foot high billboard on Sunset Boulevard celebrating 25 years of marriage to Gabor on July 27, 2011.
Von Anhalt met Gabor when he crashed a high-society party in Holmby Hills. Gabor, who was 65 at the time, approached the then-39-year-old straight away. "We spoke German, about our love of Munich," Von Anhalt said. He quickly left, thinking his ruse would be discovered, but Gabor invited him to her mansion the next day.
Von Anhalt told The Hollywood Reporter that he never revealed to Gabor he wasn’t actually invited to that fateful party. But he insists he did tell Gabor who he really was, and she was delighted that he pulled it off. "She felt, if somebody can do that, he can do much, much more,” he recalled.
"We'd been together for several years before we were married," he added. "She knew about everything: She read the papers. She got a thousand calls about me. I was bad-mouthed left and right. I remember once, she said into the phone: 'Well, he didn't kill anyone, did he?' That was it! End of conversation."
Even at their wedding, Gabor reportedly took time to silence the doubters, saying, “I don’t give a damn and he doesn’t give a damn about what people say.” The Hungarian actress and socialite died on December 18, 2016, a few months before her 100th birthday. During her lifetime, she married nine times.
*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com
*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors