Saturday, 28 June 2014


AN OBITUARY



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)
when they invited me to there home for there then famous lunch parties. Raymond was a generous host and never had fewer than 20 plus people for lunch at his Estepona mansion. The finest of foods and wines were always available. I spent many happy days lunching with the Nakachain’s and their wide selection of Marbella's A list friends. Kimera had a state of the art recording studio in the basement of their home and I would spend hours with her as she recorded a collection of her original songs. I was never quit understood her music and the meaning behind it but for sure it wasn't commercial and I’m also sure it was never intended to be (listen to her album The Lost Opera with the London Symphony Orchestra at the end of this chapter).

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.

It was decided that the paintings would hang on the walls of Puerto Banus’s Cristamar Shopping Center and judges from the town hall would decide on the winning entry. It was a great irony that One of the paintings was by Melodie Nakachain done weeks before she was kidnapped. This gave my fund raising huge publicity as it got worldwide press and TV coverage, although this was not the type of publicity I would have chosen, but then an extraordinary turn of events followed that would really boost my fund raising event : Melodie thankfully was freed days before the judging took place at Cristamar. Raymond was heavily criticised for parading her on his shoulders followed by the Red Cross band whilst thousands turned out to see and cheer her. In the end it turned out to be a happy occasion for everyone and especially for my campaign. As a result of worldwide interest we raised all the money necessary to buy the ambulance.
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




1 comment:

  1. All the years since Raymond left England as far back as 1966 I always wondered just how he was doing. Raymond and I go back a long way. We first met at Contemporary Club where he worked in 1954 London. This club was a very popular disco joint with latin american, and jazz music. Raymond was very popular with the patrons, which included celebrities at the time David McCallum, and Jill Ireland to name just a couple who moved on to Hollywood. I came here from Bombay ( Mumbai ) to compete in pro boxing. Raymond was a black belt judo expert, so we had something in common. My career in pro boxing ended when I was attacked by a mob of hooligans one night hence sustaining damaged skull. This happened in the late fifties, so as far as the boxing career went, it ended there. I started work for an international airline. At one of those mornings at my work I met up with Raymond and his family who were to embark for departure for holiday to Beirut.Those days the aircrafts were the piston engine Super Constellations which had flight times up to eight hours enroute via Paris.Raymond introduced me to his mother
    and asked if I was able to get them better seats in the aircraft. It was not a big favour, but he was most grateful that I managed to influence the ground staff to oblige. When I left the Airline, Raymond who had become a successful business man gave me
    accommodation in one of his houses when I needed a place. He was a very clever and gifted business minded person, who expanded his estate owning houses and clubs. One of his popular discos was Le Discotheque in Warder St, London.
    One of his business partners G. Wright and I met up quite a lot, and he would always give me the news as to how Raymond was in Spain. Geoffrey was the one who furnished me with all the news on Melodie, and how she was rescued. It is strange that now and again Geoffrey would phone me, and I would him. For some reason I have been unable to get in touch with him, When I ring the line has no response, I do hope all is well with him. I will have to look into this again. When my parents arrived in London in 1962, it was Raymond who rented them a flat at 3 Canfield Gardens, Finchley Rd, and this at a very reasonable rent. I found him a magnanimous man, always to the point and straightforward. Living in the same house in Canfield Gardens
    was at the time girl friend of Raymond named Odette with their daughter Vidette. I have no idea of where they would be now.
    I was most pleased when Geoffrey told me how much Raymond was happy with Kimera his wife. Like I say, not having heard from Geoffrey I decided to find out how Raymond was doing. After googling I was stunned that Raymond is no more. May he rest in peace. I wish his lovely wife Kimera, and their lovely daughter all the happiness.

    ReplyDelete