January 16, 2009 / 4:32 PM / 10 years ago

Passionate Piaf letter to actor on sale in Greece

ATHENS (Reuters) - A passionate love letter written by French singer Edith Piaf to a Greek actor more than half a century ago, telling him “don’t let my heart die,” goes under the hammer in Greece on Friday.

Collector and auctioneer Petros Vergos holds a telegram that was sent by French chanteuse Edith Piaf to a Greek actor more than half a century ago, before goes on the auction block in Athens January 16, 2009. Piaf, the legendary singer, who died prematurely of cancer in 1963, wrote the telegram to upcoming Greek hearthrob Dimitris Horn in 1946, the year she recorded La Vie en Rose and only two days after meeting him at a performance in Athens. The telegram, a letter and the program of the performance the singer held in Athens will be auctioned at the starting price of 1,000 euros. REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis

Piaf, who died of cancer at the age of 47 in 1963, wrote the letter to budding Greek heart-throb Dimitris Horn in 1946 — the year she recorded “La Vie en Rose” — just two days after meeting him at a performance in Athens.

The singer, who had a series of lovers and fought addictions to drugs and alcohol throughout her life, wrote the letter to Horn while she was already in a relationship with French actor and singer Yves Montand.

According to an excerpt printed in the auction catalog, Piaf wrote, using a pet name for the actor: “I love you like I have never loved. Taki, don’t let my heart die!”

She told Horn in a telegram she sent later that she had never loved anyone as much.

“She said she would give it all, that she needed him ... The whole letter is passion and desperation,” said Greek art collector and auctioneer Petros Vergos. “No woman has ever said such things to me.”

Vergos said the affair waned either because Horn, six years her junior, did not share her passion or because they both had other partners.

The letter, telegram and a program of her performance in Athens will be auctioned at the Plaza hotel in the Greek capital. Coincidentally, the sale takes place exactly 11 years after the death of Horn on January 16, 1998.

Vergos said he did not expect the bidding to rise much beyond its reserve price of 1,000 euros ($1,300).

“It is not among the things collectors in Greece chase. It is a cute, a funny thing,” Vergos said.

Piaf had the stage name “La Mome” or “little waif” because of her diminutive stature. The film “La Vie en Rose,” which netted an Oscar last year for French actress Marion Cotillard in the role of Piaf, revived interest in her life and music.

Reporting by Renee Maltezou; editing by Andrew Dobbie

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