False French lead in British piano man mystery

18th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, May 18 (AFP) - British authorities trying Wednesday to identify a mute piano virtuoso found wandering on a beach have been given more than 300 possible names but have yet to establish his identity.

LONDON, May 18 (AFP) - British authorities trying Wednesday to identify a mute piano virtuoso found wandering on a beach have been given more than 300 possible names but have yet to establish his identity.  

Health officials, who have joined forces with police to solve a mystery which has attracted global attention, said they had received more than 500 calls about the possible identity of the man, so far known only as "Mr X".  

A spokesman for health authorities in Kent, southern England, where the man was found on April 7 clad in a dripping-wet, but elegant suit from which all the labels had been cut out, said reports he could be French were only "speculation".  

Police in Rome said a Polish mime artist had identified the pianist found as a French musician from Nice named Steve Massone, although Massone's family has denied this.  

"The amnesiac is not Steve, I saw my brother yesterday in Nice," Julie Villa Massone told AFP on Wednesday, while the man's cousin Denis said he had spoken with his relative by telephone.  

Witnesses said they saw Massone perform Tuesday in front of Nice's main courthouse, as he does nearly every day, according to his family.  

Social worker Michael Camp, who has been looking after the mystery man, said Steve Massone was one of "300-plus" names thus far suggested to authorities.  

"We have had calls and emails from people from Australia, Canada, Sweden, Holland and that one from Italy about France," a spokesman for the local health service added.  

"They are just suggestions and they will now be looked at, and until we do we can't rule any of them in or out."  

An Italian news website on Wednesday claimed that the man could be Martin Sturefalt, a touring classical pianist from Sweden who had previously studied in London.  

The tall, slim, blond-haired man, thought to be in his 20s or early 30s, was found on the beach at Minster, on the south coast of England, soaking wet but fully dressed in the label-less black suit.  

He has not spoken since, and has not responded to written appeals while being kept under observation at a mental health hospital.  

But the man has fascinated social workers and the public through his one means of communication: playing classical piano music.  

Workers at the Medway Maritime Hospital failed to get any information from the patient, who appears anxious around strangers, but when he was given a pen and paper the man drew a detailed sketch of a grand piano.  

Workers invited him to play on the chapel piano, where he gave a virtuoso performance and also appeared to become more comfortable in his surroundings.  

"I cannot get within a yard of him without him becoming very anxious. Yet at the piano he comes alive. I can stand close to him and he is oblivious. It is extraordinary," said social worker Camp.  

Interpreters from Poland, Latvia and Lithuania were brought in to see if he was from eastern Europe, and possibly an asylum seeker, but no one has been able to get him to talk.  

The man also drew a Swedish flag when handed the paper, although health officials stress that this does not necessarily mean he is connected to that country.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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