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German-born playboy Gunter Sachs kills himself aged 78

image captionSachs had hundreds of roses dropped by helicopter on Brigitte Bardot's home, hours after meeting her

Gunter Sachs - the German-born billionaire, art collector and former husband of Brigitte Bardot - has killed himself at the age of 78.

Sachs's family said he shot himself at his chalet in the Swiss resort of Gstaad on Saturday.

A grandson of car manufacturer Adam Opel, Sachs's wealth helped him to become him a prominent member of the glamorous 1960s "jet set".

Sachs was married three times and had three children.

He also had a relationship with Iranian queen Soraya Esfandiary in the early 1960s.

Born in southern Germany, Sachs trained in maths and economics before becoming a Swiss citizen in 1976.

A noted photographer who won several awards for his documentary films, he was also an avid art collector with a keen interest in astrology.

Sachs and Bardot married in Las Vegas in 1966, a few weeks after they first met. The marriage lasted just over three years.

image captionGerman tabloids reported extensively on Sachs's affairs and friendships

Hours after meeting her, Sachs arranged for a helicopter to fly over her house in southern France and drop hundreds of red roses.

"It's not every day that a man drops a tonne of roses in your yard," the actress later wrote.

A spokesman for Bardot's animal rights charity said on Sunday she was "devastated" by her ex-husband's death.

Sachs's first wife, Anne-Marie Faure, died in 1958, the same year his father, Willy Sachs, killed himself.

After his divorce with Bardot, Sachs married former Swedish model Mirja Larsson in 1969.

"Gunter Sachs always knew how to enjoy life," wrote the Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung.

"Those who knew him may very well believe that he wanted to end it quickly to cut short the suffering of old age."

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