On Saturday, May 20, a tragedy befell the French entertainment industry. Ari Boulogne, a photographer and the alleged progeny of the renowned French cinema icon, Alain Delon, was found dead in his residence in the fifteenth arrondissement of Paris. Despite Delon’s persistent denial of paternity, this heartbreaking event has undoubtedly cast a pall over the illustrious lineage of the Delon family.

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Christian Aaron Päffgen, also known as Ari Boulogne, was born on August 11, 1962, in Paris. He was the fruit of a brief relationship between Nico, a German singer and notable figure of the Velvet Underground, and Alain Delon.

Consumed by her burgeoning career in New York, Ari’s mother entrusted him to Edith Boulogne, Delon’s mother, who, along with her husband, Paul Boulogne, lovingly raised Ari as their own and formally adopted him, thus granting him the surname Boulogne. Ari spent his teenage years in Bourg-la-Reine, a Parisian suburb, largely removed from the glitz and glamour of the film industry.

Throughout his life, Ari consistently asserted his paternal bond with Alain Delon. He even embarked on legal proceedings to get formal recognition from the man he viewed as his father. Regrettably, his efforts were in vain, as the paternal relationship remained unacknowledged.

A poignant chapter in this sorrowful familial saga was aired on Thierry Ardisson’s television program, “Tout le monde en parle,” in April 2001. Invited to the show, Ari Boulogne recounted what Alain Delon had said to him at the end of their inaugural meeting. He had conveyed words of an unsettling harshness: “You’re my buddy, you, you’re my buddy. But I’m going to tell you something, you don’t have my eyes, you don’t have my hair,” he had stated, before adding: “You are not my son, you will never be my son. I slept with your mother only once and that’s all.”

This confrontation marked an irrevocable turning point in the relationship between Delon and Boulogne, leaving an indelible imprint on Ari Boulogne’s psyche.

Ari’s resentment toward his adoptive family, particularly Edith Boulogne, Delon’s mother, was a tragic recurring theme in his life. When he met with biographer Bernard Pascuito in 2022, he voiced his dismay and bafflement at Delon’s refusal to take a DNA test, and especially at Edith Boulogne’s behavior, who raised him in vain anticipation and hope.

“Why did you let all this happen?” Ari inquired with pain and frustration directed toward Delon. He felt wrenched from his mother, the singer Nico, and subsequently discarded by the family that had adopted him. Raised in the shadow of Delon, he was often told, “Alain Delon will come for you one day”. This oft-repeated promise seeded a perpetual hope in Ari, one that ultimately proved unfounded.

A striking detail narrated by Bernard Pascuito is that Ari slept in Delon’s room during his childhood and adolescence. On his bedside table was a picture of Delon, the man he aspired to be associated with, but never a picture of his mother, Nico, the woman who gave him life and loved him before circumstances inevitably drove them apart.

On a fateful Saturday, Ari’s partner, a 58-year-old woman, was taken into custody for failing to assist a person in danger following the discovery of the considerably decomposed body of Ari Boulogne. Investigators are working to elucidate the circumstances surrounding Ari’s demise, who had been grappling with hemiparesis and significant health complications.

Beyond these tragic circumstances, Ari leaves behind a complex and poignant legacy, as the quest for paternal acknowledgment may be carried on by his two children, Charles, 24, and Blanche, 17. The Boulogne family, meanwhile, will remember him as a man who fervently sought the truth of his identity while attempting to carve his own path in a world overshadowed by the specter of his alleged father.

Ari’s life was characterized by a persistently denied quest for identity and acknowledgment, and his life’s trajectory serves as a grim reminder of the devastating repercussions of familial denial.

From the Delon side, the sole reaction to this tragedy has been from Anthony Delon, the son born to Delon and his first wife, Nathalie. He posted a condolence message on his Instagram account saying, “Rest in peace, Ari. A tragic destiny. Sadness. A thought this evening for his two children.”

In this vein, the question arises as to whether Delon might finally agree to DNA testing, thereby allowing the deceased to rest in peace.


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