Massimo Gargia: “I would like people to remember that I was someone who was fun, who gave happiness to others…”

March 05, 2024 / Jerome Goulon

If there is one personality who embodies the jet set environment, it is Massimo Gargia. Tireless, the Italian, now 83 years old, looked back on the events that marked his life and the incredible encounters he had over the decades. A poignant interview…

Jérôme Goulon: Hello Massimo. What is your secret to a successful evening?
We try to organize surprises. There are lots of events in December, but everyone wants to come to my house. Celebrities love my parties because they are fun. In 46 years of experience, I know what amuses people and what annoys them. There are two key points. First, I try to eliminate the speeches, because it bores a lot of people. Secondly, I mix people up a lot, and that's what entertains the participants. We also do a charity sale, but I try to keep it as brief as possible, because it really bores the participants.

However, it is important…
Yes. Times are so hard and sad, there are so many tragedies in the world that we can't have a party just to have fun.

Do you still enjoy organizing events?
The truth is that after all these years, I would like to stop throwing parties, but everyone around me is asking me to continue! I'm at a point in my life where I prefer to travel. That's what I like the most. But be careful, I still love going out. I hate staying at home quietly to watch TV. I still have a certain enthusiasm for people.

Who is the personality that most influenced you?
The great story of my life is my friendship with Françoise Sagan. She was frivolous, she liked drinking, drugs and going out. She loved life. We used to leave Paris at night to see the dawn in Saint-Tropez...

And you also liked drugs?
There was a time when I did a lot of drugs. All my life I was surrounded by people who took drugs, but I always had the strength to stop after a day or two of excess. I was lucky enough to never be addicted to alcohol or drugs.

You have met many important people in your life. We think in particular of Dindina, Mussolini's granddaughter, with whom you had a relationship. Tell us …
I was friends with his mother, Edda Ciano. The Neapolitan people adored him. There was no hatred against Mussolini's daughter.
And in fact, I had a story with his daughter, Dindina, Mussolini's granddaughter. It was the first time I dated a “celebrity”. I was young and beautiful. She, on the other hand, was very ugly. I almost want to say that she raped me.

Pardon ? Mussolini's granddaughter raped you?
Let's just say she almost forced me. She was very masculine, with a very strong personality, like her grandfather. But I must admit that sleeping with the granddaughter of the most famous man in Italy was quite exciting.

Were you a great seducer?
I was a seducer without knowing it. I kept to myself, so I didn't have any seduction techniques. I was fun and enthusiastic, with tremendous energy. I was very handsome, always very cheerful, and these qualities really appealed to people in the jet set world. …

Were you attracted to famous people?
I was very curious and attracted to fame. It's pretentious to say that, but from very early on I had the ambition to conquer the world! I didn't have the talent of a Picasso or the genius of a politician, so I used what I had: my looks and my charm. And I've known the most important people in the world.

You are known for dating women much older than you. What attracted you to them?
The most important women of the time were older women, and they happened to like me a lot. So I had stories with women who were older and much wealthier than me, and from there I got the reputation of being a gigolo.

And you assume this label?
In fact, I didn't really realize it. The desire to have a Porsche was stronger than me, and I had no great moral principles. But after all, why do we accept that men give gifts to women and not the other way around? So basically, I was quite modern. And then I had stories with famous women without asking for anything in return. Françoise Sagan was not a billionaire. Greta Garbo, with whom I stayed for three months, was very greedy, I paid everything for her. At the restaurant, when she was the biggest star in the world, she looked at the prices. She asked me if she could order lobster because it was expensive...

What image do you remember of her?
She was a very lonely woman. She couldn't stand fame, it made her sick. And I spoke to her like a normal woman, never about her films. That's what she appreciated. She suffered when people looked at her. She couldn't stand seeing herself age, so much so that she removed all the mirrors in her New York home. Our relationship ended overnight. She told me, “You had me once, you’ll never have me again.” She wasn't just stingy with money, she didn't want to give anyone publicity...

You also had a relationship with Lydia Deterding, who was Hitler's mistress...
Yes. It was exciting to think that the most powerful man in the world and I had touched the same woman. But in fact, she didn't really sleep with Hitler. He was just doing the preliminaries, he didn't go any further. He was with her out of interest, as her husband was the owner of Shell.

Another anecdote: you knew Andy Wharol before he became famous. He offered to make you a painting, but you refused…
How stupid I was! Andy Wharol absolutely wanted to do a portrait of me dressed as a woman. But I had the image of the playboy from Naples, super macho. At the time, I had never slept with a man. I got angry and said no. This is the stupidity of my life. At that time, a painting by him was worth between $10 and $000. Today it would be worth $20 million. But I was so stupidly macho that it disgusted me, and I refused. He still gave me three lithographs of boys in drag. I sold them for 000 euros at the beginning of the 20s. With this sum, I redid the gardens of my house in Normandy, with my wife.

And in the end, years later, you had an experience with a boy...
Yes. I wasn't attracted to boys. But the brother of a friend of mine convinced me after a bet. I told him I would agree to sleep with him if he took me to dinner with the Queen of England. And then one day, we take a private plane and go to dinner with a very unfriendly English couple. And surprise, the queen has arrived! In fact, my boyfriend's mother was Elisabeth's mother's lady-in-waiting. It was my bad luck. I had to keep my promise...

What memories do you have of Elisabeth II?
She spoke French very well, and even tried to speak Italian with me. Her husband was very unfriendly. The queen had inquired about me. She told me about Naples and Italy. I have never met such a kind woman in my life.

You also hung out with politicians, such as John Kennedy…
Yes. I met John Kennedy a year before his assassination, in Newport, at his country house. Kennedy was very kind. His wife, Jackie, on the other hand, was obnoxious. She was interested in power and money.

You also rubbed shoulders with Donald Trump…
Yes, I was very close to Ivana Trump. His death is a great loss for me...

And Donald Trump, what is he like in life?
To summarize: Donald Trump is very funny, very vulgar and very hard on women...

You were known for a long time in the jet set world, but not to the general public, until your time in The Celebrity Farm in 2004 on TF1. Was becoming a star your dream?
The Celebrity Farm gave me enormous notoriety. But at first, I didn't want to participate in the show. I refused twice. My secretary said no the first time without even talking to me, because she knew I wasn't capable of leading such a hard life on the farm. Production made me a second offer, which I refused, then a third. The more you refuse, the more money they offer you. I ended up saying yes.

And how much did they offer you?
A lot of money ! One part was for me, the other for the Parkinson's Foundation. But it was very hard for me. After two weeks, I made up the fact that I had pneumonia to get out. When I came out, they lost 3 million viewers. They begged me to come back.

How has fame changed?
Many things. At first it was impressive. Once, I was at a restaurant with Alain Delon, and as I was leaving, some young people stopped and shouted my name. Alain Delon told me: “I've made more than 100 films and you played an idiot on TV, and it's your name that young people are shouting and not mine! »

You've said you hate growing old. Like Greta Garbo, do you no longer look in the mirror?
I look in the mirror as little as possible in the morning. Or when I got dressed and put on makeup. When you've been very good looking and had a lot of success with women, it's hard to get old… I'm still successful, but it's not physical success anymore. It's sad …

What is your greatest pride?
For always being myself and never hurting anyone, even people who did terrible things to me….

What would you like people to remember about you later?
I would like people to remember that I was a fun person, who gave happiness to others, and that I always tried to be generous…