A story that is “stranger than fiction”. Every so often, a story appears that is so fantastical that if it were to be dramatised, audiences would spurn it for being just too out there, too ridiculous to take seriously. The story of Christian Carl Gerhartsreiter, otherwise known as Clark Rockefeller, is one of these.
After four decades, America’s most notorious con man has been caught – unravelling a shocking and extraordinary story of multiple identities and deception that stretches from a Bavarian village to California, where, in January 2012, he was charged with murder. With exclusive access to many people that knew him at every step of his journey True Stories paints a portrait of the man who started life as Christian Gerhartsreiter, a poor country boy from a tiny mountain village in Upper Bavaria and who pursued the American dream for years in order to reach the upper echelons of society, ending up as Clark Rockefeller – banker, socialite and member of one of America’s richest families, married to a successful business woman and living in a 2 million dollar townhouse with a country estate in the grandest part of New Hampshire.
With access to the FBI, police detectives, former friends and key players close the case – many of whom speak for the first time on television, Six Million Dollar Conman documents the many lives of one man, capable of astonishing deceit and manipulation.
Arriving in America aged 17 and determined to get to Hollywood, this young man began his new life as he would go on – under false pretences. His cleverly constructed personas would span over four decades and finally culminate in Clark Rockefeller having created and lived five entirely separate identities in different parts of the US: he was a relative of Earl Mountbatten and member of the British Royal family; the son of the British single-handed sailor Sir Frances Chichester; a Film Noir director, responsible for all the Hitchcock remakes; a Wall Street trader and flamboyant figure on the New York art scene; and finally, Clark Rockefeller, a Boston grandee, member of the finest East Coast Clubs, ex-husband to a Harvard MBA living in London and proud father.
Having been hunted for years by the FBI as Chris Chichester and then Chris Crow in connection with a murder, it was only when Clark Rockefeller tried to snatch his seven year old daughter from a social worker on the streets of Boston in 2008 that police began to uncover the truth behind his identity.
Six Million Dollar Conman unravels Clark Rockefeller’s story, bringing to life his motivations and interior world, and his elaborate and fantastical confection of lies and fake identities. This is a gripping and revelatory account of the most complex con America has ever known.
A Film by Louise Osmond ; A Blast! Films Production for Channel 4