'Piano Man' turns out to be Bavarian farm boy
22 August 2005, BERLIN - The mysterious Piano Man who fooled doctors in Britain for months by pretending to be mentally ill was back in his native Germany Monday after admitting to having staged an elaborate hoax.
22 August 2005
BERLIN - The mysterious Piano Man who fooled doctors in Britain for months by pretending to be mentally ill was back in his native Germany Monday after admitting to having staged an elaborate hoax.
The Foreign Office in Berlin confirmed that he was a 20-year-old German citizen from Bavaria, but provided no other information.
The young man, who finally broke his silence to describe himself as an unemployed gay man whose father owns a farm in Germany, flew home over the weekend after being discharged from a mental hospital in southern England.
Months of speculation ended Friday when the tall blond man reportedly spoke for the first time and said he was a jobless German whose father had a farm.
German authorities did not confirm reports that the man could face charges of fraud and might be required to compensate the British National Health Service for hundreds of thousands of euros in medical care.
He was admitted to hospital in Kent in April after being found soaking wet on a beach near Sheerness on the English Channel.
For months his photo was shown around the world and hundreds of leads were followed up. At one time he was thought to have been a Czech concert pianist. All of the leads turned out to be baseless.
Finally last Friday, a nurse entered his room at Little Brook Hospital in Dartford, England, and routinely asked, "Are you going to speak to us today?" He simply answered, "Yes, I think I will," according to a London newspaper report.
He said he had been working in Paris but had lost his job. He added that his father owned a farm in Germany and he had two sisters, said the report in the Mirror daily on Monday.
He said he made his way to Britain on a Eurostar train and claimed he was trying to commit suicide when police picked him up on the beach in April.
The man used to work with mentally ill patients and is thought to have copied some of their characteristics to fool psychiatric doctors about his own imagined illness.
The patient was nicknamed Piano Man after reports that he entertained hospital staff with a remarkable talent for classical recitals. When medics gave him a pen and paper, he drew detailed pictures of a grand piano.
However, the report said he could only tap one key continuously on the piano in the hospital chapel and that he only drew a picture of a piano because that was the first thing that came into his head.
Diagnoses focused on post-traumatic stress disorder. Later it was thought he might be autistic.
The NHS Trust, embarrassed by the apparent hoax, declined to reveal the man's identity until it has completed its own investigation. The hospital reportedly intends to seek compensation for the time and resources it wasted in trying to help him.
Subject: German news