Graveyard Shift

‘My Friend Rockefeller’ Tells The Story Of The Infamous Imposter, Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter  

Bailey Benningfield
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There's no shortage of shocking stories about feigned identities - from Anna Delvey to John Meehan, con men and women are ubiquitous. But few stories involve a move from Germany, five identities, and the Rockefeller family name. The fascinating story of Christian Gerhartsreiter manages to include all three. Gerhartsreiter made his way across the US, ingratiating himself into wealthy communities until he settled in New York City. There, Gerhartsreiter married a Harvard grad and pretended to work in prestigious philanthropic positions, all the while hobnobbing with some of the richest and most prominent members of American high society.

Gerhartsreiter's life imploded when his wife decided to seek a divorce. Gerhartsreiter took their daughter, of whom he had lost custody, and prepared to sail abroad under a different identity. Police discovered the plan before he could escape and soon detained him. Authorities uncovered Gerhartsreiter's trail of lies, one of which implicated him in the slaying of a man and a missing woman.

The documentary My Friend Rockefeller tells Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter's real story. My Friend Rockefeller reviews suggest the film successfully analyzes why Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter used the name Clark Rockefeller, and describes what has happened since he was apprehended in 2008. As of 2019, he's serving time, possibly for the rest of his life. His story has inspired a movie called Who Is Clark Rockefeller?, as well as several books and podcast episodes. Gerhartsreiter will live in infamy, though likely not for the reasons he hoped.

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Photo: My Friend Rockefeller/LOOKS
Gerhartsreiter Used Five Different Identities Over 30 Years

After Gerhartsreiter took his daughter, police discovered that his friends knew him as a number of different identities. Some knew him as Chris Gerhart, a film student at the University of Wisconsin. He had also gone by Christopher C. Crowe when he worked as a TV producer in the late '80s. Others knew him as an alleged British royal, Christopher Chichester, who suddenly left Los Angeles in the 1980s following a couple's disappearance.

By the time Gerhartsreiter fled Boston with his daughter, his friends and his wife Sandra Boss knew him as Clark Rockefeller. The alleged Rockefeller worked and lived among some of the country's most wealthy.

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Photo: My Friend Rockefeller/LOOKS
Gerhartsreiter Successfully Convinced An Entire Community That He Inherited A Part Of The Rockefeller Fortune

The alleged Rockefeller convinced not one, but two communities of lawyers, doctors, artists, and writers that he was a descendant of the Rockefeller family. In New York, he took his prestigious friends to country clubs and showed off his "art collection," which authorities later determined was fake.

In Boston, Gerhartsreiter ingratiated himself with a community of wealthy people who often met at a Starbucks near his daughter's school. Gerhartsreiter became the director of the Algonquin Club and invited his elite friends, even if he did charge them for their visits. John Greene, who was adjacent to Gerhartsreiter's circle, said he easily convinced them he was a Rockefeller, claiming, "At a club like that - very Yankee, old-boys, blueblood - people get [excited] over the name."

Gerhartsreiter Took Off With His 7-Year-Old Daughter After A Bitter Divorce

Much to Gerhartsreiter's dismay, he and Boss separated in 2007 over differences in parenting styles. During the divorce, the Boss family began to ask questions about Rockefeller's past. They discovered he had been lying about his mother, who he claimed was child star Ann Carter. Because Gerhartsreiter had no documentation to back up his Rockefeller identity, Boss got everything the couple owned as well as full custody of their daughter Reigh, who went by Snooks. Gerhartsreiter was only to see her three times a year during supervised visits.

Gerhartsreiter was devastated. In July 2008, six months after the divorce was finalized, Gerhartsreiter took his daughter Snooks and made an escape in a limo that cost him $3,000. The limo driver, oblivious to what was going on, dropped them off and called a cab to take them to the Boston Sailing Center. A friend there drove Gerhartsreiter and Snooks to New York, where he lept out of the vehicle and disappeared with Snooks.

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Photo: My Friend Rockefeller/LOOKS
Police Lured Gerhartsreiter Out Of His Baltimore Home By Telling Him His Yacht Was Sinking

After Gerhartsreiter fled with his daughter Snooks, he ended up in Maryland, where he bought a carriage house for over $400,000. The agent who sold him the home saw his face on the news and alerted authorities, who came to Baltimore to stake out the house.

When officials discovered Gerhartsreiter was storing a yacht in the Baltimore marina, police convinced the marina's manager to call Gerhartsreiter and tell him his boat was taking on water. When Gerhartsreiter emerged from his home, authorities tackled him to the ground, ending his ruse.