Explosive New Book Reveals Anthony Bourdain's Final Texts

Unauthorized biography reveals intimate details of his final days
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2022 3:00 AM CDT
Explosive New Book Reveals Anthony Bourdain's Final Texts
FILE - In this Sunday, March 13, 2016, file photo Anthony Bourdain speaks during South By Southwest at the Austin Convention Center, in Austin, Texas.   (Photo by Rich Fury/Invision/AP, File)

Simon & Schuster is calling Down and Out in Paradise: The Life of Anthony Bourdain the first unauthorized biography of the chef, author, and travel documentarian who committed suicide in 2018. But many members of Bourdain's inner circle aren't happy about journalist Charles Leerhsen's book, set to be released Oct. 11, reports the New York Times in an extensive preview. Bourdain's brother insisted Leerhsen included a significant number of errors or fabrications in the book, which traces Bourdain's life from childhood until his final days, and demanded Simon & Schuster hold the book until they were fixed, but the publishing company's VP and senior counsel told him the publisher stands behind the book.

So what's in it? A disturbing look at the end of Bourdain's life, which, Leerhsen writes, included blackout drinking, visits to prostitutes, injecting steroids, and an increasingly dire emotional state. ("I hate my fans, too. I hate being famous. I hate my job. I am lonely and living in constant uncertainty," he texted his wife, Ottavia Busia-Bourdain, from whom he separated in 2016 but with whom he remained close.) He had also, per the Times, "all but vanished from his 11-year-old daughter’s life," according to the book, and some of the sources who spoke to Leerhsen (in some cases, those who were no longer in Bourdain's inner circle) were willing to speak because of how incensed they were about what had become of the father-daughter relationship, Leerhsen says.

One person decidedly unwilling to speak to Leerhsen was Asia Argento, the Italian actress with whom Bourdain was involved at the time of his death, and the book includes details of their stormy relationship, including distraught text messages they exchanged after Argento was pictured dancing with a French reporter five days before Bourdain's death. "I am not jealous that you have been with another man. I do not own you. You are free. As I said. As I promised. As I truly meant. But you were careless. You were reckless with my heart. My life," he wrote in one. Shortly thereafter, Argento said she was leaving the relationship due to Bourdain's possessiveness. Hours before his death, he texted again asking if there was anything he could do, and she wrote back "Stop busting my balls." He replied "OK." See the Times for much more from the book. (Read more Anthony Bourdain stories.)

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