Photo Of The Day

Barbara Daly Baekeland. Daly's Troubled Past: After Daly and her mother collected a huge insurance payout from her father's death, they moved to New York and got a room in an expensive hotel. Daly started modeling for Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, and would openly flirt with wealthy men. Eventually, Daly was called out to Hollywood to screen test for a movie, where she met Brooks Baekeland's sister, actress Cornelia 'Dickie' Baekeland. Cornelia Baekeland set Daly up with her brother, and the two hit it off immediately. They began sleeping together fairly quickly, and before long, Daly lured Baekeland into marriage by faking a pregnancy.

Barbara Daly Baekeland. Daly’s Troubled Past: After Daly and her mother collected a huge insurance payout from her father’s death, they moved to New York and got a room in an expensive hotel. Daly started modeling for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, and would openly flirt with wealthy men. Eventually, Daly was called out to Hollywood to screen test for a movie, where she met Brooks Baekeland’s sister, actress Cornelia ‘Dickie’ Baekeland. Cornelia Baekeland set Daly up with her brother, and the two hit it off immediately. They began sleeping together fairly quickly, and before long, Daly lured Baekeland into marriage by faking a pregnancy.

Fatal Seduction

How A Society Millionairess Seduced Her Own Son

To ‘Cure’ Him of Being Gay… And Paid With her Life

She did not see her assailant until it was too late. Pushing open the front door of the house in Kensington Square, the upmarket London enclave where she was staying with a friend, Barbara Baekeland was about to take off her coat when the maniac jumped out and tried to grab her.

Terrified, the 50-year-old society hostess twisted free and ran outside, back down the steps.

But she was too slow  –  and, as she stumbled towards the pavement, it was her hair that proved her downfall.

Bonfire red, in contrast to her milk white skin, it had for years ensured that she always turned heads  –  in Hollywood, where she was once screen-tested as an actress, at society soirees in America and Europe, where she consorted with film stars and aristocrats, or in London, where she had recently acquired a luxurious penthouse flat in Chelsea.

Now her attacker was using her most distinctive feature to try to kill her. Grabbing a fistful of her hair so that it tore and ripped at her scalp, he began dragging her into the road to throw her under a passing car.

She tried to resist by clinging to the gate  –  so he began slamming it backwards and forwards on her fingers. Harder and harder, he smashed the metal against her hand, breaking her thumb in three places.

Then, when she thought she could hold on no more, he suddenly changed his mind about how to finish her off.

Letting go of the gate, he ran back into the house and reappeared with a carving knife, shouting that any woman who was near was going to ‘get it’.

Barbara Baekeland’s life might have ended there and then, had her friend Sue Guinness not arrived home that very moment.

Leaving his victim lying dazed on the pavement, with a clump of hair missing from her head, the attacker fled back into the house and out through a rear door, disappearing into the exclusive residential streets beyond.

But it did not take long to track him down  –  for Barbara knew his identity only too well.

The maniac who had almost killed her on that terrifying day in 1972 was her 26-year-old son, Tony.

Although the police arrested him for attempted murder, she refused to press charges and Tony was admitted to the Priory, the private psychiatric hospital in South London, only to be released soon afterwards.

Within a few months, he would strike again  –  and this time there would be no reprieve.

Barbara would die at the hands of her own child in a savage murder at their Chelsea home that sent shockwaves through high society in both Britain and America. The death of Barbara Baekeland left only one question: not who had killed her, but why?

Interviewing many of those closest to the family, what is painted is a compelling portrait of a glittering dynasty doomed by madness, debauchery, drug abuse and black magic.

Most disturbing of all, is how Tony Baekeland’s act of matricide was preceded by another crime equally bewildering and shocking  –  Barbara Baekeland’s sexual seduction of her son.

If ever a story illustrated that money cannot buy happiness, then it is the saga of the Baekeland family.

Their fortune was made in America at the turn of the 20th century when Leo Baekeland, a Belgian chemist, invented Bakelite, the world’s first plastic, which was used in everything from radios and records to artificial limbs and atomic bombs.

His grandson Brooks Baekeland  –  Barbara’s future husband  –  was an arrogant and aloof young man, with movie star looks.

He liked to say that, thanks to his grandfather, he had ‘f you’ money. ‘That means I need not please or seek to please anyone.’

An intellectual, he claimed to despise the ostentation and relentless partying of high society  –  so he could hardly have made a worse choice of wife than the red-headed beauty Barbara Daly.

Barbara, according to Brooks, had ‘mischief in the blood’. Her mother Nini had a breakdown a few years before Barbara was born and her father Frank killed himself in 1932 when she was only ten, gassing himself in the garage of their home near Boston with exhaust fumes from the family car.

With her husband dead, Barbara’s mother decided to marry her off to the richest man she could find.

They moved to New York when Barbara was in her late teens, using her father’s life insurance pay-out (he had made his suicide look like an accident) to set themselves up in the Delmonico, one of the city’s most expensive hotels.

Hailed as one of New York’s ten most beautiful girls, Barbara modelled for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar magazines, and flirted shamelessly with wealthy admirers.

She was invited to Hollywood for a screen test and, although it came to nothing, made friends with Cornelia ‘Dickie’ Baekeland, another aspiring actress, who decided to set her up with her younger brother, Brooks, a trainee pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Brooks’ dashing looks and wealth quickly convinced Barbara he was the man she was after. For his part, Brooks described Barbara as ‘remarkably beautiful and staggeringly self-assured’.

They started sleeping together and she tricked him into marriage by claiming she was pregnant. Besides the non-existent baby, Barbara kept another secret from Brooks until it was too late for him to escape.

Like her mother and father before her, she had mental problems  –  and, shortly before they met, had been a patient of a celebrated New York psychiatrist called Foster Kennedy. Whatever Kennedy learned about Barbara during their sessions had clearly unnerved him, as Brooks would discover.

‘Someone told me years later that when Foster Kennedy heard that I had married Barbara Daly, he said: “God forfend that they have a child!”‘

God apparently ignored Kennedy’s concerns for Barbara followed her phantom pregnancy with a real one. In August 1946, she gave birth to Tony, bringing into the world the son who  –  in 26 years’ time  –  would be responsible for her own exit from it.

 From the start, Barbara’s mental fragility was obvious. One friend recalled Brooks joking during a meal out one night that, for a million dollars, he would agree to sleep with the next woman who passed through the restaurant’s revolving doors, regardless of her age or looks.

‘Barbara said as they left, “If that’s the way you feel, I’ll just go off with the first man who comes along in a car!”

And she dashed into the middle of the street, flagged down a car with four young men in it, jumped in and took off.

‘A couple of hours later she came home, having evidently got rather cold feet. Barbara was very beautiful in those days so that was quite a crazy thing to do in New York City. Very crazy and very dangerous.’

Fascinated by the spirited madcap in their midst, the cream of American society began attending the Parisian-style salons which the Baekelands hosted in the enormous wood-panelled living room in their house on New York’s affluent Upper East Side.

Attracting Salvador Dali, Tennessee Williams and Dylan Thomas among others, these soirees were renowned for being somewhat risqué.

At one gathering, the men hid behind a screen, hiding their faces and upper bodies, and removed their trousers while their wives were required to guess which bottom half belonged to which husband.

‘My house was always buzzing with beautiful, silly, tipsy people,’ said Brooks.

The tension between husband and wife spilled over into frequent fights, with Barbara’s mood swings seemingly exacerbated by the influence of the heavens.

Friends who accompanied the Baekelands on a skiing holiday to Switzerland described how she stood out in the snow on the night of a full moon, keening and wailing like a demented creature.

The performance was repeated on a number of other occasions. ‘It came on very suddenly and she would go round the bend,’ said one astonished member of the party.

Brooks remembered his wife as ‘a wild animal, a flaming beautiful tigress’ and described another trip where they ended up wrestling naked in a hotel bathroom because he would not take her to her favourite restaurant.

‘I held Barbara down with my foot on her chest while she sank her strong, white teeth as deep as she could into my calf. It took at least a half hour for the adrenaline to burn out of her veins,’ he said.

‘Oh, they would fight, they would fight,’ said Peter Gable, a classmate of Tony’s who often visited the Baekelands’ house after school.

‘I can remember hearing them. The volume!’

The only thing that appeared to unite the Baekelands was their determination to promote Tony as some sort of child prodigy, constantly showing off to their friends about everything he had written or drawn at school.

Leo Baekeland, in his Yonkers lab in 1909 revolutionized resins with his invention of Bakelite. At first glance, the Baekelands were just like any other wealthy socialite family. Their fortune came from head of the family Leo Baekeland, who was the inventor of Bakelite plastic. The plastic invented by Leo Baekeland was used in numerous inventions at the turn of the 20th century, including atomic bombs, artificial limbs, records, and radios. Leo Baekeland's grandson, Brooks Baekeland, ultimately married the gorgeous and manipulative Barbara Daly.

Leo Baekeland, in his Yonkers lab in 1909 revolutionized resins with his invention of Bakelite. At first glance, the Baekelands were just like any other wealthy socialite family. Their fortune came from head of the family Leo Baekeland, who was the inventor of Bakelite plastic. The plastic invented by Leo Baekeland was used in numerous inventions at the turn of the 20th century, including atomic bombs, artificial limbs, records, and radios. Leo Baekeland’s grandson, Brooks Baekeland, ultimately married the gorgeous and manipulative Barbara Daly.

‘They wanted the boy to be a genius,’ said artist Yvonne Thomas. ‘That’s what struck me. I felt uncomfortable with him because I felt he felt he had to be something.’

One acquaintance remembered the Baekelands ordering their young son to read aloud from the Marquis de Sade’s erotic writings.

Another broke off contact with the couple after hearing Brooks’s evident pride as he described how Tony had pulled the wings off a fly to see how it would affect its balance.

‘That kind of sadistic behaviour is quite common in children, but one seldom sees a father who thinks it is marvellous,’ said the shocked friend.

When Tony was eight  –  by which time his mother had climbed just about every rung of power and influence in New York  –  his parents found a new audience for his talents.

Barbara wanted to conquer Europe and the family began a nomadic existence, renting villa after villa in fashionable resorts all over the Continent.

In the entrance hall of whichever house they happened to be staying in, Barbara was careful to leave out a bowl full of visiting cards.

All were artfully displayed so that others could see that the Duchesse de Croy or the Prince de Lippe had been ticked off her list of social acquisitions.

When they rented a villa at Cap d’Antibes in the South of France in 1955, their neighbours were Andre Dubonnet, grandson of the creator of the famous aperitif, and Freddy Heineken, the Dutch beer baron.

Greta Garbo popped over for drinks.

Tony, meanwhile, was packed off to play on the beach with Princess Yasmin, the daughter of Rita Hayworth and the Aga Khan’s son, Prince Aly Khan.

Barbara was at once an intense, possessive, emotionally needy mother  –  and an entirely neglectful one.

As the family travelled from one chic destination to another, in an endless round of idle summers, she and Brooks treated their son like a favourite toy, to be picked up and put down at whim.

‘The Baekelands went out every single day on a yacht that they chartered from a local fisherman,’ said a friend who spent one holiday with them.

‘They just sat and drank masses of wine and jabbered and gossiped with this duchessa and that principessa and yet another contessa this-and that. Tony was left out of everything.’

A lonely and seemingly self-sufficient boy, Tony had inherited his parents’ good looks, including his mother’s red hair and radiant brown eyes.

He charmed those who met him, but some saw indications of the turmoil to come.

Nike Mylonas Hale met the Baekelands in Italy with her husband Bob when Tony was about 12.

‘We saw him alone on the rocks playing with crabs, sort of pulling them apart,’ she recalled.

‘In hindsight it was an awfully creepy little episode but his parents didn’t really pay much attention to Tony.’

Another friend of the couple, Francine du Plessix Gray, was also worried by Tony’s behaviour. She and her husband Cleve shared an Italian villa with the Baekelands in the summer of 1960 when Tony was 14.

‘Tony had a pronounced stutter, but the only hint that there was something deeply wrong came halfway through the holiday.

‘Our son Thaddeus had just been born so we had brought two months’ supply of baby food with us and we suddenly noticed that there were these strange gaps in the rows of pots.

A few days later the peasant girl who was looking after our son said to us “It is Mr Tony. I have seen him do it. He comes in at night when the baby is asleep and steals the baby food.”

‘Maybe he wanted to identify with our baby because he’d never had any proper parenting from his own parents.’

Other, potentially more disturbing stories began spreading about Tony. He would later tell psychiatrists that he’d had his first homosexual encounter at boarding school at the age of eight  –  and by 14 he was actively looking for sex with other males.

Brooks Baekeland Marries Barbara Daly. Brooks Baekeland was a handsome man with an arrogant attitude to match. He met Barbara Daly during his days of high society partying. While Daly didn't come from a very wealthy background, she had an ambitious mother who pushed her to date high society men. When Daly was a child, her mother had a severe mental breakdown and her father killed himself by carbon monoxide poisoning in the family's garage.

Brooks Baekeland Marries Barbara Daly. Brooks Baekeland was a handsome man with an arrogant attitude to match. He met Barbara Daly during his days of high society partying. While Daly didn’t come from a very wealthy background, she had an ambitious mother who pushed her to date high society men. When Daly was a child, her mother had a severe mental breakdown and her father killed himself by carbon monoxide poisoning in the family’s garage.

One friend who shared a cook with the Baekelands in New York was told that when his parents were away, he often picked up older boys on the streets and brought them home.

For Brooks Baekeland, this confirmed what he, but not Barbara, had suspected for some time.

‘Tony’s homosexuality was a terrible shock to his mother, who fought against it with him, ferociously. She simply could never accept it.’

Nor could Barbara reconcile herself to her husband’s growing yearning for other women.

The Baekelands were now using Paris as their main base, and in 1963 Brooks fell in love there with an English diplomat’s daughter who was 15 years his junior.

When he asked for a divorce, Barbara took an overdose. Although she survived, Brooks felt he couldn’t leave her in case she did it again.

‘Faced with becoming a murderer for the sake of freedom, I gave up my girl,’ he said.

It was a pattern repeated throughout the rest of their marriage. Author Samuel Taylor recalled having dinner at the Baekelands’ home in New York with the actress Jessica Tandy.

‘Barbara said, “Guess where I was at five this morning!” and we said, “Where?” and she said, “At Bellevue Hospital,” and she showed us the bandages on her wrists, very gay and charming about it.’

Hoping to make Brooks realise that she was still attractive to other men, and so desire her more, Barbara began an affair with a Spanish physicist.

This backfired when her husband offered her an annual allowance if she would divorce him and marry her lover.

Instead, she announced that her relationship with the Spaniard was over because he couldn’t park a car properly and she didn’t like his feet.

Although Brooks continued to have dalliances over the years, Barbara’s suicide threats meant that none amounted to much until 1967 when she inadvertently set in train the events that would finally destroy their marriage.

That year, Tony spent the summer with his parents in the Spanish resort of Cadaques where he met Jake Cooper, a handsome young Australian who was the lover of a woman called Erika Svenssen.

‘Jake was like a devil,’ said Svenssen. ‘He had a power over people.’

Tall and dark, with a silver earring, and known by his hangers-on as ‘Black Jake’, Cooper lived in an abandoned farm with an entourage of hippies who were into magic mushrooms and other drugs.

He had small bones sewn on to his vest which he referred to as ‘amulets’ and it was rumoured that he practiced black magic.

Some insisted that he had cast occult spells that had killed at least three people.

Tony, now 21, became drawn into Cooper’s sinister circle, buying their friendship with gifts of money and quickly falling in love with the leather-clad Cooper himself.

The Australian’s hold over Tony was witnessed by family friend Barbara Curteis while his mother was away in Switzerland.

‘He fed Tony drugs and Tony became his thing, his creature. He went off to Morocco with Jake and they brought back belladonna [deadly nightshade, a highly dangerous hallucinogenic drug] and Tony ate the whole thing himself and disappeared under one’s eyes to a blob of quivering jelly.’

When Curteis phoned Tony’s mother to warn her, she came back to Cadaques to rescue him and take him to Switzerland.

They were stopped at the border because Tony didn’t have his passport and in the ensuing fracas, with Barbara kicking and spitting at the immigration officials, both she and Tony were arrested and spent the night in jail.

‘She made a remark I’ll never forget, it has a sort of echoing horror for me,’ said Barbara Curteis.

‘She told me proudly that she’d said to Tony as they were being led away in handcuffs, “Here you are, darling, at last –  manacled to Mummy!”‘

Tony’s gay love for Black Jake wasn’t the only budding relationship his mother was to destroy. He had begun seeing a young French girl called Sylvie, who was also on holiday in Cadaques.

Barbara was thrilled that he had a girlfriend at last and when he invited Sylvie for dinner to meet his parents, she immediately began pressing her to become Tony’s wife  –  reminding her that he would one day be very rich.

In the coming weeks, she went out of her way to invite Sylvie over whenever possible, but her scheming went terribly awry. Rather than marrying her son, Sylvie began an affair with her husband.

Barbara did not discover that Sylvie and Brooks were seeing each other until the following February, at which point she attempted suicide again, taking an overdose of strong sedatives, washed down with vodka.

This time Brooks did not come back to her. Perhaps realising that it was the only way to trump Barbara, Sylvie also took an overdose, leaving him to choose between the two brittle women.

He eventually decided on Sylvie and told Barbara that this time he really wanted a divorce. Her next move may well have confirmed in his mind that he had made the right choice.

‘Before they separated, Barbara told Brooks, “You know, I could get Tony over his homosexuality if I just took him to bed,”‘ recalled Elizabeth Archer Baekeland, her sister-in-law.

‘Brooks said, “Don’t you dare do that, Barbara!”‘

Barbara apparently ignored that warning.

Dr. Leo Henrik Baekeland: Family Fortune Founder, Time 1924.

Dr. Leo Henrik Baekeland: Family Fortune Founder, Time 1924.

She and Tony spent the summer of 1969 in Majorca, drinking and smoking marijuana in a house loaned to them by the daughter of an Austrian archduke.

Here, in this rambling rundown villa, set high on a cliff with no phone or electricity, the woman who had beguiled men all over the world turned her charms on her son and took him to her bed.

Afterwards, she remained convinced that she had done the right thing, even boasting about it whenever she got a chance.

‘Barbara called me and told me that she had slept with Tony,’ said her friend Alan Harrington.

‘I said to her I didn’t think it was such a bad thing. I was trying to remove guilt but now that I think of it, there wasn’t any expressed.’

‘She was very honest about it  –  she said she had done it to break him of his homosexual tendencies,’ remembered Bernard Pfriem, a painter who met Barbara on a cruise shortly afterwards. ‘She talked about it as though it were a therapeutic act.’

Therapy? Or the ultimate act of destructive self-indulgence by a spurned, narcissistic beauty?

Whatever the truth, the effects on Tony’s already damaged psyche were to prove catastrophic.

Later that summer, Brooks came to stay on Majorca with Sylvie, unaware that his wife and son were there.

When Barbara discovered where they were staying, Tony began visiting them and his mental turmoil immediately became apparent.

‘It was very uncomfortable, very hard,’ recalled Sylvie. ‘He left messages for Brooks in our flower pots. I found one  –  it said, “Daddy, please Daddy, come back to Mummy, she’s so unhappy.” He acted like a little eight-year-old.’

One friend who visited Tony and Barbara at the archduke’s house that summer was startled to see a broken chair in the flower beds. Barbara told her that Tony had thrown it there in a fit of rage.

Later, the same friend saw a typewriter smashed and mangled on the steps leading down to the cellar. Once again Barbara explained that Tony had smashed it up when he was ‘upset about something’.

The typewriter was one that Tony had used to write poetry, which he showed to his friend Alastair Reid.

His poems had started out as gentle, unremarkable pieces of work but increasingly they were replaced by eerie and incoherent page-long ramblings.

‘Barbara was a great smoother-over,’ said Reid. ‘But that summer I suddenly released there was a savage landscape inside Tony.’

Quite how savage would become apparent when Barbara went back to New York the following year and Tony joined her there soon afterwards.

During one dinner party, he disappeared to his room then came out totally undressed.

‘He just streaked from one end of the apartment to the other,’ recalled one of the guests.

Tony’s behaviour took a more worrying turn when he enrolled in a New York art school soon afterwards.

Halfway through one lesson, the college registrar Sylvia Lochan was called to the classroom because Tony wasn’t responding to anybody and seemed to be in a world of his own.

While everyone else was painting a still life of flowers and fruit, his canvas depicted disturbing figures with blood dripping down their sides.

‘It was obvious to me that he was very troubled, and, looking back, it’s very surprising that he wasn’t in some sort of hospital,’ said Lochan.

Dismissing this strange behaviour, Barbara remained convinced that her son was nothing more than a ‘misunderstood genius who was never meant to work and toil in this sick society’.

She seemed oblivious to the possibility that Tony’s troubles might stem from their increasingly unhealthy relationship.

‘I am f my mother,’ Tony told one friend during this time. ‘I don’t know what to do  –  I feel desperate.’

Barbara enrolled in a creative writing class and wrote a vivid account of a mother’s sexual relationship with her son.

One night she invited some fellow students back to her apartment and they found the living room full of photographs she had taken of Tony.

‘What struck me was the way the camera just dwelled on the beauty of this young man,’ recalled one. ‘They were not the sort of pictures a mother would normally take of a son.’

Others who visited the Baekelands’ home recalled seeing portraits painted by Tony, showing his mother decapitated and with serpents entwined around her neck.

Soon even Barbara was forced to admit that there might be a serious problem when Tony turned up late one night, clearly delusional and highly agitated.

Fearing that he might attack her, she arranged for him to be admitted-to a private psychiatric clinic but, although his medical records suggest that his prognosis seemed ‘poor’, he was discharged after six weeks because Barbara could not afford his treatment.

Brooks had cut her allowance and refused to fund Tony’s care himself. Rather than being mentally ill, he said his son was ‘a personification of evil’ and dismissed psychiatrists as practitioners of mumbo-jumbo.

Tony soon relapsed  –  beating Barbara unconscious with a heavy wooden walking cane one night and then, when her divorce lawyer tried to go to her aid, knocking him out, too.

After that episode, he was diagnosed as having schizophrenia by psychiatrists at the local hospital who recommended that he should be sent to a private mental institution. But still his father refused to meet the costs.

Once again Tony was released back into Barbara’s care, only to smash an egg across her face at a dinner party, threaten her with a knife and then attempt to choke her in front of the alarmed guests.

In the final months of her life, many of which were spent in London, Tony’s violent and unpredictable behaviour became steadily worse.

During one fight he attempted to blind her by sticking a pen in her eye.

On another occasion, a journalist named Clason Kyle accompanied Barbara home after dinner one evening.

They were enjoying a nightcap when suddenly Tony appeared before them, wearing only shorts and brandishing a large kitchen knife.

‘He ranted about the room, gesturing wildly, then he vanished as quickly as he had appeared,’ recalled Kyle. ‘The understatement of the century would be to say that I was startled.’

By August 1972, Tony was often to be found in catatonic trances, clutching himself and swaying to and fro. Barbara arranged for him to see Dr Lindsay Jacobs, a psychiatrist recommended by a friend.

Jacobs confirmed that Tony was suffering from schizophrenia, made worse because Barbara had failed to make sure he took his prescribed medicines. Jacobs was extremely concerned for her safety.

‘Your son is going to kill you,’ he warned. ‘I think you’re at grave risk.’

‘I don’t,’ replied Barbara. But Jacobs was so worried that he phoned Chelsea police station.

‘I told them I thought something was going to happen over at 81 Cadogan Square and asked if they could put a guard there but they said that they were not really allowed to do much until something actually happened.’

Two days before Barbara was murdered, she invited her friend Sue Guinness around for lunch.

Having already witnessed the incident when Tony attempted to throw his mother under a car, Guinness was worried to find him looking as disturbed as ever.

‘He had painted his shoes and all his clothes with gold stars, and he just sat there and rocked backwards and forwards with his arms crossed across his chest.’

During their lunch  –  the last time she saw her friend alive  –  Guinness urged her to be careful.

But Barbara dismissed her fears. ‘He’ll never harm me,’ she said.

Antony Baekeland: Brooks Baekeland was known to have cheated on Daly for much of their marriage, and whenever he attempted to leave, Daly would threaten to commit suicide. Eventually, Antony came out to his parents as gay, and it sent the already unstable family into a tailspin. Daly refused to accept her son's sexual preferences, and apparently became neurotically clingy. She hired prostitutes to sleep with her son in an attempt to "fix" his homosexuality, and after Brooks Baekeland finally did leave the marriage, things got worse for Antony. Brooks Baekeland left Daly for a young woman who was classmates with his son and visited the house a few times in the 1960s. Daly tried to commit suicide by overdosing on pain pills, but she was unsuccessful. After the episode, Brooks Baekeland realized he couldn't formally divorce Daly but did become removed from the family. After Brooks Baekeland abandoned Antony and his mother, the pair became grossly inseparable.

Antony Baekeland: Brooks Baekeland was known to have cheated on Daly for much of their marriage, and whenever he attempted to leave, Daly would threaten to commit suicide. Eventually, Antony came out to his parents as gay, and it sent the already unstable family into a tailspin. Daly refused to accept her son’s sexual preferences, and apparently became neurotically clingy. She hired prostitutes to sleep with her son in an attempt to “fix” his homosexuality, and after Brooks Baekeland finally did leave the marriage, things got worse for Antony.

Barbara Daly Baekeland & Antony Baekeland. In 1946 Daly gave birth to a son, Antony, who would be the couple's only child. The couple believed Antony would be the perfect child; they gallivanted him around their society circles and claimed he would be both a ladies man and a successful writer, poet, and polo player. However, Antony turned out to be a very strange and anxious child as a result of his mother's strange parenting. Daly would often play psychological mind games with her son by smothering him with attention and then casting him away to boarding schools in Europe.

Barbara Daly Baekeland & Antony Baekeland. In 1946 Daly gave birth to a son, Antony, who would be the couple’s only child. The couple believed Antony would be the perfect child; they gallivanted him around their society circles and claimed he would be both a ladies man and a successful writer, poet, and polo player. However, Antony turned out to be a very strange and anxious child as a result of his mother’s strange parenting. Daly would often play psychological mind games with her son by smothering him with attention and then casting him away to boarding schools in Europe.

That terrible day dawned hazy and cloudy in London, but by 3pm the sun shone with unaccustomed benevolence for November.

The leaves in Cadogan Square had turned and were dropping. All her life, Barbara Baekeland had been partial to autumnal colours: the rust-coloured skirts and bronze shoes she favoured suited her flaming red hair and fair skin.

Even now, aged 50, her beauty was bewitching – she could pass for a woman 20 years younger. It was this flamboyant glamour that had ensnared her husband, Brooks Baekeland, wealthy grandson of the man who invented Bakelite, the world’s first plastic.

But Brooks had left her for a younger woman four years previously, so today she was socialising alone. At 1pm, she leaned down to stroke her Siamese cat Mr Wuss before leaving her penthouse flat for lunch with Missie Harnden, a Russian princess who lived nearby in the exclusive residential streets of Chelsea.

They gossiped excitedly about the cocktail party Barbara had held the previous night, and sat down to filet mignon wrapped in bacon, green beans and a tossed salad, accompanied by a Spanish red wine.

At 3.30pm, Barbara got up to leave, thanking her friend for the “marvellous lunch” and mentioning that her son Tony was cooking dinner for her that evening.

At 7pm, Missie answered the phone. It was Chelsea police station inquiring as to the time of Barbara’s arrival and departure that afternoon.

They would not say why, but a few seconds later she was asked: “How well did you know the deceased?”

She was too shocked to answer and handed the phone to her son. It was he who learned the shocking truth: Barbara Baekeland had been murdered.

It was a crime that made headlines on both sides of the Atlantic. A member of one of the U.S.’s richest and most powerful dynasties had been murdered in the heart of one of London’s most expensive neighbourhoods.

And more sensational still – the killer was her own son.

It was no secret that Tony Baekeland had been behaving strangely. This tall, thin and seemingly gentle 26-year-old had taken to threatening his mother with knives, attempting to choke her and trying to push her in front of cars.

His psychiatrist and close family friends had warned Barbara that he intended to kill her. But she had ignored those warnings to the end.

The night before her death, at that last cocktail party, Missie had noticed Tony staring into space in what she later described as a “strange, bright-eyed way”.

She had intended to mention something about this during their lunch, but as usual Barbara had talked endlessly about Tony – how wonderful he was, how much he loved London, how everything in their lives was rosy and happy – and Missie couldn’t bring herself to say anything.

It was a decision she regretted the instant she heard what had happened to her friend after they said their goodbyes.

Returning to her flat in Cadogan Square, Barbara had found Tony at home with Mr Wuss and their Spanish maid, who was ironing in the dining room.

According to Tony’s subsequent confession, one of his mother’s friends had phoned while she was out and he had invited her around that evening. Barbara apparently did not want to see this friend and so an argument had started, during which the maid became so frightened by Tony’s demeanour that she ran from the flat.

“I think my mind was slightly wacky and I was very much under my mother’s powerful influence,” he said later. “I felt as though she were controlling my mind.”

His recollections were confused, but he remembered hitting Barbara and her running into the kitchen.

Following her, he picked up a knife from the kitchen table and stabbed her with it. She fell to the floor and he called an ambulance.

“It took hours to come and by the time it did my mother was dead,” he said.

“It was horrible – I held her hand and she would not look at me or speak to me. Then she died.”

The paramedics alerted the police, who arrived to find Barbara lying on her back in the kitchen, with a single stab wound near her heart.

The knife had severed a main artery. As for Tony, he was on the phone in his bedroom, ordering a Chinese takeaway.

He appeared completely unconcerned. Mr Wuss, the cat, was hiding in terror under the bed.

As Tony was taken to Chelsea police station, he maintained that Barbara had been stabbed by her mother Nini Daly, who was in her 80s and thousands of miles away at her home in New York.

He also remarked to the detective who arrested him that  “it all started when I was three or five and I fell off my pogo stick”.

When friends visited him in Brixton prison, he asked: “How is my mother? Is she well?”

Later, feeling “clearer in the nog” and accepting that his mother was dead, Tony spoke of feeling that “a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders”.

One friend suggested that he had killed Barbara after she threw out of the window the collar of a long-dead pet Pekingese, which he had kept as a memento since childhood. Rather more germane, perhaps, was the fact he was schizophrenic and that he and his mother had been pursuing an incestuous affair – a relationship that had started three years earlier, when Barbara set out to “cure” his homosexuality, and continued, it appears, right up to her death.

The following summer, in June 1973, Tony appeared at the Old Bailey, defended by John Mortimer, later to be celebrated as creator of the fictional barrister Rumpole. He described Tony as “very gentle, calm and nice” and attempted to get him sent back to the U.S., his home country, for psychiatric treatment. Instead he was found guilty of manslaughter with diminished responsibility and sent to Broadmoor for an indefinite period.

Tony seemed happy there, working in the handicrafts shop, having clandestine relationships with other male inmates and welcoming visitors including the actress Patricia Neal, taken along by one of the Baekelands’ friends who was painting her portrait at the time.

Another of those who came to see him was his grandmother, Nini Daly.

“She still seems less disturbed by her daughter’s death than by the fact that her dear little Tony is in trouble,” said a note in his file.

“She seems just as mad as the rest of the family.”

Nini’s refusal to believe that Tony could do anything wrong would eventually rebound on her in horrific fashion – but she was not alone in her belief that her grandson was being unfairly detained.

He might still be in Broadmoor today had it not been for a misguided group of supporters who believed that his capacity for violence had been exhausted when he killed his mother.

A campaign for his release was led by the honourable Hugo Money-Coutts, whose family controlled London’s exclusive Coutts Bank, and whose mother-in-law was one of the Baekeland’s oldest friends.

Coutts’s influence ensured that Tony’s case was discussed at the highest levels, with telegrams shuttling between the American Embassy in London and Cyrus Vance, the U.S. Secretary of State in Washington. Eventually, in July 1980, Tony was discharged on condition that he was repatriated.

Tony’s father Brooks opposed this move. He had a new son, born shortly after Tony was sent to Broadmoor, and, on learning of the arrival of his half brother, Tony had used his time in the handicrafts workshop to fashion a series of toys for him so grotesque and macabre that Brooks had to throw them away as soon as they arrived.

Brooks had also received abusive letters from Tony, some threatening to murder his new wife Sylvie. Brooks dismissed the idea that his son had been suffering diminished responsibility, maintaining that he was inherently evil. While this refusal to recognise that Tony had a mental illness was hardly helpful, Brooks was right to be concerned given the disastrously inadequate provisions made for his son’s release.

There had been reassuring talk of his being accompanied on the flight back to New York by two trained medical escorts, but this requirement somehow got lost in the confused discussions between the authorities in Britain and the U.S.

No one seemed willing to take overall responsibility for what happened to him.

His companion in the end was his paternal grandmother’s friend Cecelia Brebner, whose daughter happened to live near Broadmoor.

She had agreed to give Tony a parcel from his grandmother during one of her visits and, having met him only once, was somewhat surprised when one of his friends asked if she would accompany him back to the U.S.

Unsure of what she might be taking on, she asked for advice from a somewhat unlikely source.

“I was staying at the time with Lady Mary Clayton at Kensington Palace, and she said: ‘Celia, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do, but we’ll ask Prince George of Denmark.’

“He thought it was a very altruistic thing to do, so I embarked upon it.”

So it was that on the advice of a minor member of the European aristocracy, she agreed to take temporary charge of a man who had knifed his mother to death, and whose medication had been steadily reduced over the previous six months until finally he was taking nothing at all.

Tony’s consultant at Broadmoor, Dr Philip Gogarty-who later described his release as a faux pas  -said he had discharged him only on condition that Tony would live in some kind of half-way house on his arrival in the U.S, so that he could properly reintegrate into society.

No such arrangement had been made and since Tony’s father refused to take any responsibility for his son, even though he was also in the U.S. at the time, there was only one option.

Tony would live in a tiny apartment on New York’s Upper East Side with his ever forgiving grandmother, even though she was recovering from a broken hip and needed round-theclock care herself.

At the time, New York was experiencing an extreme heatwave, but Tony spent most of the next few days in his grandmother’s cramped and sweltering flat, playing morbid music and mumbling satanic masses in front of a shrine to his dead mother, created by placing candles and photos of her on top of a chest of drawers with her ashes as a centrepiece.

At 9am on Sunday, July 27, only six days after Tony’s release from Broadmoor, Nini Daly’s nurse Lena Richards arrived at the apartment to begin her day’s shift.

She had been asked to lend her key to Tony while he was staying there, so she had to wait for him to let her in, but there was no reply when she rang the bell.

Eventually, Tony came to the door wearing only a pair of shorts.

“Lena, quick, get the ambulance,’ he shouted. ‘I’ve just stabbed my grandmother.”

Richards ran to a nearby phone box and called the police. As they entered the apartment, they heard Nini Daly shrieking with terror and saw Tony rushing out of her bedroom towards them.

“She won’t die, the knife won’t go in! And she keeps screaming! I can’t understand it,” he shouted as they grabbed him.

The police found his grandmother lying against the wall in a corner of her bedroom with blood soaking through her satin nightgown.

She had been stabbed eight times and had multiple other injuries including a fractured collar bone and ribs.

While they waited for an ambulance to arrive, Tony was taken to the local police station.

He later explained that he wanted to have sex with his grandmother-just as he had with his mother.

This, at least, was the underlying cause of his frustration, but the trigger for the attack was that she had tried to stop him making a phone call to England.

He had thrown the phone at her head and it knocked her to the floor.

Realising that he had injured her, he apparently decided it would be kindest to put her out of her misery, so he began attacking her with a kitchen knife, but she wouldn’t die.

“I hate it when this happens,” he told the police. Miraculously, every blow had struck bone and his grandmother survived.

Tony was charged with attempted murder and sent to Rikers Island, New York’s main prison.

By then he had come into his trust fund and the other prisoners quickly began preying on him for money.

Within a few months he had given away almost £20,000-some of it as protection money and some as gifts to those with whom he began having relationships, including, it was said, one of the male guards and an inmate who had raped and decapitated a young boy.

Just as he had in Broadmoor, Tony appeared to find a perverted kind of peace on Rikers Island, but his time there was about to come to an abrupt end.

On March 20, 1981, he was taken to court for a preliminary hearing and learned that his trial would not take place for another month because his medical records had still not arrived from Britain.

He hoped to be granted bail until then, but his application was refused.

Little more than half an hour after returning to his cell at 3.30pm that day, he was found dead in his bed, suffocated by a carrier bag placed over his head.

Brooks Baekeland believed his son had been murdered, perhaps because he had threatened to reveal his relationship with the guard or refused to hand over money to one of the more dangerous and violent inmates.

Others were convinced it was suicide, but whether Tony was killed or brought about his death himself, one thing was certain.

What ended his life was a bag made of plastic-the material behind the fortune which had made the Baekelands one of the U.S.’s most envied families, but also one of its most tragic.

He will kill you: Shrink warned mother of Baekeland plastics heir – NY …

AFTER MOTHJER WAS MURDERED – NYTimes.com

AFTER MOTHJER WAS MURDERED – NYTimes.com

How a society beauty was finally murdered by the gay son she tried to …

Greta Garbo – Press Articles (I wasn’t to blame for heiress murder, says …

 


THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

38%