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Peter Beard proved the sheer exhaustion of the playboy's lifestyle

Blog | By Melik Kaylan | Apr 21, 2020

Peter Beard at Hog Ranch, Nairobi, Kenya, 2014 (Credit: Peter Beard)

The American playboy with the golden looks has died, aged 82. The wildlife photographer had an affair with Jackie Kennedy's sister, Lee Radziwill, and married the supermodel, Cheryl Tiegs. For a while, Melik Kaylan partied with him in Manhattan but he couldn't keep up with his relentless, drug-fuelled pace

I met Peter Beard in the 1990s Manhattan night clubs, through glam mutual friends from Kenya where he often lived. I encourage you all to read his obits in today's papers.

He was a certain type celebrated in a certain era for living a fearless extreme life. Scandalous today but quite the thing for a while.

He too would invite me out, then disappear for hours into bathrooms with models for cocaine binges. He had a wide-open quality of friendship and candour when not disappearing. He was the ideal of the privileged, bohemian artist.

The reward for total devotion to the muse was pure experience. When young, I thought life should be like that and indeed could be, spent, like Peter Beard's, in far-flung places, with adventures, forest dawns – in his case, in the company of of elephants and giraffes – and then back to civilisation for lovely, pretty girls.

But I realised you really had to throw yourself off a cliff every day, metaphorically, with sleepless cocaine binges along with imperviousness to actual friendship.

Perhaps I lacked the intense religious self-indulgence required of that sort of life. After a while I just couldn't turn up anymore. Ad astra, dear old PB.