Saturday, 28 June 2014
My personal memory of Raymond Nakachian 1932-2014
As I continue my journey into 2007 telling My Story I will now take a short diversion as I go back all the way to 1987 to remember an old friend who died last week:
The funeral service of Raymond Nakachian, who hit the headlines when his five year old daughter Melodie was kidnapped for 11 days in 1987, took place last week in Marbella. I believe his ashes will be now spread at sea off the coast of Estepona where he lived for many years .
Raymond Nakachian, who was born in Lebanon, became known around the world when in 1987 his little girl Melodie was kidnapped as she set off to school out side her fathers million dollar home in Estepona. Her brother had been taking her to Aloha college, Marbella at the time when The gang kidnapped the five year old threatening to kill her if a ransom of €9.5 million was not paid.
I first met Raymond many years ago and his Korean born wife, opera singer, Kimera, famous not only for his claim that she was a princess but for her outlandish eye makeup, (see photo)
The kidnapping of their daughter Melody happened when she set off for school driven by Raymond’s eldest son. It was a meticulously organised professional operation. The car was blocked by two gang members wearing balaclavas and heavily armed. The whole operation was carried out in seconds. The event not only shook the ex pat communities living on the Costa's but throughout Spain and the rest of the world. Melody had disappeared for a total of eleven long days, with a ransom of 13 million dollars on her young head. The terrible nightmare for Raymond and his wife thankfully came to an end when a clue found in Torremolinos led the GEO (Special Operation Force)to an apartment in Cadiz and freed her.
Whilst this was going on I was approached by the Red Cross, with absolutely no relation to the kidnapping, to see if I could raise enough money to buy an ambulance for the San Pedro RC branch as they hadn’t got one and were totally reliant on the only one in Marbella. I came up with the idea to launch a children's painting competition to include all the schools in Marbella and San Pedro. The theme was ambulances , Red Cross etc. The winning painting would be used as a logo on thousands of T-Shirts that would sell at a 1,000 pesetas each to help raise the money needed. I also approached the businesses communities of San Pedro and Marbella asking for and receiving many generous donations.
Moving forward 27 years when I was honoured by the Red Cross with the award of the Bronze Medal for my years of charity work this event was mentioned at the ceremony by the Red Cross president.
(Look carefully at this photo that has never been published, you will see Raymond Nakachian center of the picture, bald head, carrying Melodie as they are surrounded by police, press and cheering crowds followed by the Red Cross Band. I remember thinking surely this five year old had gone through enough and to tell you the truth she looked terrified as she was paraded like some kind of trophy through the milling crowd!)
Here is the winning painting that was placed on billboards throughout San Pedro. I was so proud every time I drove past them.
The last time I met Raymond was when he came to see if I could help him with his plans to try and sell his manuscript of Melodies kidnapping to a film production company. I remember he told me he wanted Vinnie Jones to star in the film as the leader of the kidnapping gang (not sure Vinnie's attempt at a French accident would be very convincing!!) . Unfortunately this project never got off the ground nor did another one of his inventions to cure cancer go anywhere. Raymond in his hayday was rummord to be worth millions made from oil, but he told me that he was now in a bit of financial trouble and was selling of the land that surrounded his mansion. Long had the days of the fabulous luncheon parties gone. But I will remember Raymond as a charismatic generous gentleman who loved his family and was faithful to his friends. R.I.P Raymond Marbella will miss you.
And here is Kimera Nakachain's album