From the Daily Telegraph
The Earl of Shaftesbury
The 10th Earl of Shaftesbury, whose death aged 66 was confirmed yesterday, demonstrated the dangers of the possession of inherited wealth coupled with a weakness for women and Champagne.
Shaftesbury, who disappeared last November prompting an international police investigation, was tall, debonair, affable and rather shy. He tried after his own fashion to be true to the liberal philanthropic family traditions of his ancestors, notably the first Earl (1621-83), founder of the Whig party in Parliament, and the 7th Earl (1801-85), the great 19th-century evangelical social reformer.
He served as president of the Shaftesbury Society, which the 7th Earl had founded, and - as a keen music fan - was chairman of the London Philharmonic Orchestra from 1966 to 1980.
He was also respected as a conservationist. On his 9,000-acre estate at Wimborne St Giles, Dorset, he planted more than a million trees and, in 1992, was joint winner of the Royal Forestry Society's National Duke of Cornwall's Award for Forestry and Conservation. He also served as president
of the Hawk and Owl Trust and as vice-president of the British Butterfly Conservation Society.
It was said, after his mysterious disappearance from a Cannes nightclub, that the 10th Earl, like Gladstone, had been devoting himself to helping vulnerable young girls working in nightspots on the French Riviera to start new lives. But as the mystery deepened, it seemed that his interest was more than merely philanthropic.
Indeed, Lord Shaftesbury had always exhibited a weakness for exotic women. At Eton he had famously penned an article for the college magazine in which he described English debutantes as "round-shouldered, unsophisticated garglers of pink champagne". His subsequent amorous career was notable for his avoidance of the species.
He met his Italian-born first wife, Bianca Le Vien, the ex-wife of an American film producer and 12 years his senior, during a skiing holiday. They married in 1966, but divorced, owing to his adultery with an unnamed woman, in 1976. The same year he married a Swedish-born divorcee, Christina Casella, the daughter of a diplomat, with whom he had two sons.
That marriage, too, ended acrimoniously, in 2000, and he embarked on a string of short-lived and expensive love affairs with younger women distinguished by their exotic looks and equally colourful past histories.
He became a familiar figure in some of the loucher nightspots on the French Riviera, where he cut a curious figure in leather trousers, pink shirts and large red-and-black spectacles; he was notable for his habit of flashing his money around as he bought drinks for a succession of nubile female companions.
In 1999 he had begun a relationship with Nathalie Lions, a pneumatic 29-year-old whom he had met in a lingerie shop in Geneva, where she was working as a model. They became engaged, and he paraded her around London, Barbados and the south of France, maintaining that she was a member of the Italian royal house of Savoy. He admitted to lavishing some £1 million on her in cheques and expensive gifts, including a £100,000 Rolex watch and an Audi TT sports car.
But their relationship came to an end in 2002 after it was revealed that she was, in fact, a French nude model and former Penthouse "Pet" with silicone-enhanced breasts.
Later that year, he married Jamila M'Barek, a Tunisian divorcee with two children, whom he had met in a Paris bar where she was working as a hostess. She separated from him in April 2004, claiming that he had become an alcoholic and "sex addict", regularly overdosing on Viagra and having testosterone injections. Among several bizarre stories, she alleged that, on one occasion, she had returned unexpectedly to their flat in Cannes to find her husband in the company of a large Arab gangster and two Arab women who were rifling through the wardrobes. Her husband was on a stool singing and dancing; the women left with a car-load of her belongings.
In August 2004 Shaftesbury was reported as having taken up with a 33-year old Moroccan hostess known as Nadia. He installed her and her two children in their own flat and, a month later, asked her to become the fourth Countess of Shaftesbury.
On the evening of November 5 2004, Shaftesbury left the Noga Hilton Hotel in Cannes and, as was his regular habit by this time, entered a basement hostess-bar nearby. Within 24 hours he had vanished, setting off an international criminal investigation.
The saga of "le Lord disparu" sent the French media into a frenzy, and spawned a multitude of theories. In February his estranged wife, Jamila M'Barek, was arrested by French police and allegedly admitted that she was present when the Earl was killed in her home; but she insisted that she was only a witness to a fight involving her husband and his killer. She and her brother Mohammed have both been placed under investigation for murder, which is a step short of formal charges under French law.
Anthony Ashley-Cooper was born on May 22 1938, the elder son of Major Lord
Ashley, elder son of the 9th Earl of Shaftesbury KP, PC, GCVO, CBE. Lord Ashley, who died in 1947 before he could inherit the earldom, had shocked London society by marrying the model and chorus girl Sylvia Hawkes. After their divorce she went on to marry Douglas Fairbanks Sr, followed by Clark Gable. Anthony was the son of his father's French-born second wife, Françoise Soulier.
He was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, and, as a young man, was a keen climber and skier. He succeeded to the earldom aged 22 on his grandfather's death in 1961.
The 9th Earl had, by prudent financial planning, arranged matters so that his heirs would avoid death duties. The young earl therefore came into an estate which included the family's 17th-century home and large estate in Dorset, several other properties and a collection of art and other valuables. By the 1990s his wealth was said to be in the "low millions".
It was another ancestor, the 3rd Earl, who had bequeathed to his wayward descendant the wisest counsel: "The extending of a single passion too far or the continuance of it too long," he observed, "is able to bring irrecoverable ruin and misery."
Shaftesbury's body was found in the south of France on April 5; yesterday it was announced that DNA tests had confirmed his identity.
By his second marriage, Lord Shaftesbury had two sons, the eldest of whom, Anthony Nils Christian, Lord Ashley, born in 1977, succeeds to the earldom.