From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Christophe Thierry Rocancourt, sometimes also called Christopher Rocancourt, (b. July 16, 1967 in Honfleur, France) is an impostor and con artist who scammed affluent people by masquerading as a French member of the Rockefeller family.
He told Dateline NBC in a 2006 broadcast that his mother sometimes worked as a prostitute and his father was an alcoholic who took Christopher to an orphanage when the boy was 5. He ran away and made his way to Paris where he pulled his first big con: faking the deed to a property he didn't own, then "selling" the property for USD $1.4 million.
Making his way to the United States, Rocancourt used at least a dozen aliases. He got the rich and powerful to invest in his schemes, he told Dateline, by tapping into their greed. He convinced them that he, too, was rich by paying for their lavish dinners in cash. In Los Angeles, he pretended to be a movie producer, ex-boxing champion or venture capitalist. He dropped names like "his mother" Sophia Loren or "his uncles" Oscar de la Renta and Dino De Laurentiis and was associated with various celebrities. He married Playboy model Pia Reyes; they had a son, Zeus. He lived for a time with Mickey Rourke and apparently convinced actor Jean-Claude Van Damme to produce his next movie.
One of his trademarks was to always have a stunningly beautiful woman on his arm. Beside being married to Pia Reyes, according to the press, he lived with playboy model Rhonda Rydell for six months. She did not know Rocancourt was married, and said he had told her he was French nobility, the son of a countess.
In 1997 police raided Rocancourt's hotel suite. In 1998 he was arrested for an involvement in a shootout and jumped bail. In 1999 he was freed of charges of forging passports after he had bribed State Department employees to get a passport. He was arrested in 2000 in the Hamptons for an unpaid hotel bill, then jumped bail. In April 27 2001 he and Reyes were arrested in Oak Bay, British Columbia, Canada, and charged with defrauding an elderly couple. Reyes was released after convincing authorities that she had no part in the scam, much less any idea of her husband's criminal activities.
In Canada, Rocancourt wrote an autobiography in which he ridiculed his victims. In March 2002 he was extradited to New York and pleaded to charges of theft, grand larceny, smuggling, bribery, perjury and fraud against 19 victims. He was fined $9 million, was ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution and sentenced to five years in prison. In Switzerland, the police have connected him with a jewel theft and barred him from the country until 2016.
He once estimated to Dateline that his various schemes/ventures netted him at least $40 million (USD), but this cannot be confirmed. On June 7, 2006, the Associated Press reported that imprisoned former private investigator Anthony Pellicano performed an illegal background check on a law enforcement official who was investigating Rocancourt in a fake passport scheme.