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Gottfried von Bismarck, 44, member of German royalty

LONDON -- Count Gottfried von Bismarck, whose life of privileged excess as a descendant of Germany's "Iron Chancellor" was clouded by two deaths at his decadent parties, has died at the age of 44.

The Metropolitan Police said yesterday that Mr. von Bismarck, great-great-grandson of Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who unified Germany, was found dead at his apartment in London's Chelsea district on Monday.

Police said the death was unexplained and a coroner's inquest would determine the cause.

Mr. von Bismarck had a well-publicized history of drug use. His family in Germany said he had also been treated for epilepsy for many years.

"Count Gottfried was a wonderful person," the family said in a statement.

Gottfried Alexander Leopold Graf von Bismarck-Schonhausen was born in 1962 and educated in Germany and Switzerland before attending Oxford University in England.

As an undergraduate, he was known for his extravagant appearance, which at times involved dressing in fishnet stockings or traditional Bavarian lederhosen, and his lavish parties. At one, guests were greeted by a pair of severed pigs' heads on the dinner table.

He was a member of the Bullingdon Club, a dining society known for its raucous upper-class membership, and the Piers Gaveston Society, a 12-member club with a reputation for drunken excess and sexual shenanigans.

In 1986, Olivia Channon, the 22-year-old daughter of a Conservative government minister, died of a drug overdose in Bismarck's bed at Oxford after an end-of-term party.

Bismarck, who was not in the bed at the time, was not implicated in the death, although he was charged and fined for possessing cocaine and amphetamine sulfate.

At his trial, his lawyer said Channon's death "is going to be a shadow over the head of Gottfried von Bismarck, probably for the rest of his life." The count said years later that some had accused him of disgracing the Bismarck name.

Mr. von Bismarck eventually settled in London, working in finance and telecommunications . He remained out of the headlines until last August, when a 38-year-old man, Anthony Casey, died after he fell from a roof garden during a party at Mr. von Bismarck's residence.

Police concluded Casey's death was an accident, and the coroner's verdict was "death by misadventure," meaning no one was to blame. Mr. von Bismarck's family said his funeral would be private.

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