(August 28, 1946 - March 20, 1981) U.S.A.
Bakelite heir, murderer
The Baekelands were a prominent and extremely well-to-do family. The family patriarch, Leo Baekeland, had been a multi-millionaire industrialist, famous as the inventor of the first fully synthetic plastic, Bakelite, in 1909, and as the founder of the modern plastics industry. The grandson of Leo, married Barbara and they had a son, Anthony.
Barbara's son, Anthony, wanted little to do with the family business; his main preoccupations were art, parties, and handsome men. Barbara loved everything about her son - his wit, his sense of style, his loyalty to her - but she could never reconcile herself to his homosexuality. They fought constantly about it, and their arguments - ferocious, vicious, sometimes violent - were legendary to everyone who knew them.
For a long time, Barbara even tried to "cure" her son by hiring willing girls to take him to bed. When these hoped-for seductions failed, she sometimes talked of suicide... in 1968, Barbara finally decided to seduce the boy herself. In a grotesque attempt to cure Tony of his homosexuality, Barbara coerced him into having sex with her when they were staying alone together in a house on Majorca.
Predictably, the incestuous episode did nothing to alter Tony's sexuality, but it added a new twist to an already volatile relationship, and the fury of emotion between mother and son became explosive. Finally, on November 11, 1972, as the two of them argued in the kitchen of Barbara's posh London apartment, Tony angrily grabbed a kitchen knife and plunged it directly into her heart. She died almost instantly... he later confessed and was charged with murder.
In June 1973 he was convicted of manslaughter under diminished responsibility and was sent to a psychiatric hospital near London. He later committed suicide in 1981. The murder of his grandson's wife Barbara by his great-grandson, Tony, is told in the book Savage Grace.
After the murder, Antony was institutionalized at Broadmoor Hospital until, at the urging of a group of his friends, he was released on July 21, 1980. He relocated to New York City to live with his grandmother, stabbing but not killing her less than a week later. He was sent to Rikers Island and was suffocated with a plastic bag on March 20, 1981; it is unknown whether his death was a suicide or murder.
Source: Rutledge, L. The Gay Book of Lists. Alyson, 2003 edition, p. 129 - et alii
Photos: title photo by Karen Redkai - text photo by Christopher Barker