Anthony Bourdain obsessively googled his girlfriend Asia Argento 300 times before he killed himself, his biographer has told reporters.
The beloved celebrity chef, 61, spent his last days reeling from the revelation that his younger Italian film star lover had been pictured in Rome with another man.
Writer Charles Leerhsen had access to Bourdain’s text messages and other records for his new unauthorized biography Down and Out in Paradise – The Life of Anthony Bourdain.
He says that the Parts Unknown presenter punished himself by looking up Argento and also googled a prostitution service before hanging himself in his hotel room in France in June 2018.
Speaking from New York, the former Sports Illustrated executive editor, 73, said that as far as he knows Bourdain’s last words were written to Argento, now 47.
Arguing over text message, Argento wrote: “Stop busting my balls.”
Bourdain simply replied: “Ok.”
Leerhsen said: “I think that’s the last thing he said to her.
“She kept texting and kept the argument going after that happened but he didn’t respond after that point because I think he was gone. She didn’t know he was gone.”
“In his last hours he googled a prostitution service and he kept googling Asia.”
“I guess he punished himself by reading over and over and more and more about Asia’s fling with a French journalist in Rome.”
“He kept googling her name, he googled her 300 times or so in the last few days.”
Leerhsen also revealed that in his view Bourdain was so exhausted from constant travelling and drinking that he was unable to repair his life.
Argento has said that although fans accused her of killing Bourdain, the pair’s rollercoaster relationship was an open one and he had cheated on her too.
She tearfully told DailyMailTV in September 2018: “Anthony was 62 (sic), I was 42.
“We had lived, we had wives and husbands, we had children.
“I cannot think of Anthony as somebody who would make a radical gesture like this for something like that.”
After delving into Bourdain’s life for his book, Leerhsen agrees that it was not Argento’s fault – although he does think she was reckless with his feelings.
He said: “I don’t blame her for what happened to him.”
“Although I think she helped drive him to that place of despair, I don’t think she can be held responsible for his death.”
“In my opinion it was a classic case of almost like a teenage love affair where the boy wants to go steady and the girl doesn’t.”
“The boy keeps pressing his case and the girl keeps pulling back. The more the boy expresses his ardor for the girl, the more the girl was turned off.”
“That’s what was going on and, whatever you think of her, I think she had every right not be pushed into that kind of relationship.”
“At the same time, she was very cavalier about his feelings and wasn’t sensitive to them. In the texts sent just before he died he told her ‘You were reckless with my heart’ and I think that’s very well put.”
As part of the research for his new book Leerhsen spent a night in the room at the scenic Le Chambard hotel where Bourdain died in Kaysersberg in Alsace, northeastern France.
He claims that he had a spooky experience there which left him questioning whether Bourdain was trying to communicate with him.
The biographer, who has previously written about legendary American figures such as baseball center fielder Ty Cobb and outlaw Butch Cassidy, said: “I didn’t rush right in there after his body was taken out.
“It was about a year later, but it was weird. It was strange, something felt charged about the experience. I’m not gonna be so whoopy doopy to say I could feel his presence.”
“But while I was unpacking the closet door started to move on its own and then with a force that drove it off the rails and kind of lunging in my direction. I had to kind of almost laugh at that and say ‘Is this Tony reaching out for an embrace or is he pushing me away, telling me to get the hell outta here?”
“You do that kind of thing to walk in the person’s shoes. You don’t get data from it but you get the feeling that you have the right to talk about someone because you followed in their shoes.”
“That’s why I did it.”
Published by Simon & Schuster, Down and Out in Paradise – The Life of Anthony Bourdain is out now.