Anthony Bourdain Told Asia Argento ‘You Were Reckless with My Heart’ in Last Texts Before His Death

A new book is shedding light on the final days of the late Anthony Bourdain.

The travel host died by suicide in June 2018 at age 61 while in Kaysersberg,France to film an episode of his series Parts Unknown with close friend andFrench chef, Eric Ripert. PEOPLE reported at the time that “he was giddy” inthe weeks before his death because of the release of the CNN show’s Hong Kongepisode, which was directed by Bourdain’s girlfriend Asia Argento.

But the Italian actress and Bourdain, who was still married to his estrangedwife Ottavia Busia at the time of his death, had a troubled relationship, asis revealed in an exclusive excerpt below from Down and Out in Paradise byCharles Leerhsen (out Oct. 11). The unauthorized biography includes his well-documented rise to fame from a Vassar College dropout to a food superstar whotraveled 250 days out of the year. how Down and Out in Paradise stands apartfrom the handful of other works which set out to tell Bourdain’s story, iswith intimate details from his final days in France, taken largely from textsand emails on his phone and laptop.

TimesTalks with Anthony Bourdain, New York, USA - 05 Oct2017TimesTalkswith Anthony Bourdain, New York, USA - 05 Oct2017

TimesTalks with Anthony Bourdain, New York, USA – 05 Oct 2017

RELATED: What to Know About the Controversy Surrounding Anthony Bourdain ‘sAI Voice Used in ‘Roadrunner’

Argento said in Sept. 2018 that the pair “cheated” on each other. “It wasn’t aproblem for us,” she said. A fight via text with Argento, included in the bookand below, after she was spotted by paparazzi with French journalist HugoClément, tells a different story.

Reads one of Bourdain’s last texts: “You were reckless with my heart.”

(Argento did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, but told the NewYork Times “I clearly wrote to [Leerhsen] that he could not publish anythingI said to him.”)

Down and Out in Paradise by CharlesLeerhsenDownand Out in Paradise by CharlesLeerhsen

Down and Out in Paradise by Charles Leerhsen

_Simon & Schuster _ Down and Out in Paradise by Charles Leerhsen

It seemed like all they did was fight. Mostly she complained about him beingtoo possessive. Later Argento would say, “I always told him my kids camefirst, my work came second, and he came third.” One of his main worries,though, was that he would someday come fourth or fifth, behind her man or menof the moment. It wasn’t simple jealousy that was gnawing at him, he tried toexplain in private exchanges with her; it was his fear that she would destroytheir chances of sharing their lives by getting involved with outsiders. Thedistinction may seem subtle, but it was important to him.

Story continues

Their relationship had evolved by June 2018 into something bizarrelycomplicated and decadent even by the standards of celebrities and others notbound by the usual societal—or logical— considerations. As far as he knew, shehadn’t been with anyone else in their time together except her ex-husband,Civetta—though both agreed they theoretically had every right to haveadditional lovers (as long he steered clear of Ottavia). He apparently hadmaintained no side relationships since meeting her except for the prostituteshe continued to frequent, presumably telling himself they didn’t count becausethere was no emotional involvement and because he and Argento were sofrequently separated. Meanwhile he did his best to keep Argento loyal to himby giving her money and moral support as well as by ingesting large amounts ofsteroids, human growth hormone, and Viagra so that his age was less likely tocome between them. It was this world-class mess of what once had been a loveaffair that Tony was desperately trying to keep going when—with him justsettling in to begin the Kaysersberg shoot with Eric Ripert—Argento showed upon the paparazzi websites cavorting in the streets of Rome (and in the lobbyof the Hotel de Russie, where she and Tony had enjoyed romantic interludes)with a handsome young French journalist named Hugo Clément. Sometimes, ifrarely, the ZPZ crew had welcomed Tony and Asia’s phone fights, thinking theymight end in a permanent breakup. These phone fights were different.

A mysterious Twitter account called @justicefortony—it has since been takendown but it is thought to have belonged to a member of the ZPZ crew—put outthe word that Tony and Argento “started fighting on Tuesday, June 5. Tony hadto leave the set multiple times to talk to her on the phone.Things escalatedon Wednesday when by all accounts she told him she no longer wanted to be withhim.Everyone was keeping an eye on him all day and night because he wasincredibly distraught. screaming phone calls through the day. By Thursday heseemed to be better and kind of wanted everyone to back off.”

One possible reason for his elevated mood was that he’d had a good time thenight before when, with the cameras rolling, he and Ripert had visited a twoMichelin star restaurant called JY’s in the nearby town of Colmar. Theproprietor and chef, Jean-Yves Schillinger, had with Tony fifteen yearsearlier when he’d had a place in New York City; and as Tony and Ripertexperienced his high-toned take on Alsatian cooking, memories came rollingback on waves of crisp local whites. Toward the end of the meal, Schillinger,a handsome blond Frenchman of fifty-five, proposed that he, Tony, Ripert, andthe crew make a beer run to Freiburg, Germany, thirty miles to the southeast,for a nightcap—and off they all went like a bunch of spring breakers. PartsUnknown was not regularly broadcast in Kaysersberg, which accounted forTony’s anonymity there, but it did air in Freiburg, and as soon as Tonyentered the crowded beer garden he became Anthony Bourdain again, therecipient of allos , cheers , and hearty handshakes, all of which hereturned with a wide smile. “He enjoyed every minute of it,” Schillinger toldme when I visited his restaurant. “He lit up like the Tony I once knew.Everything was normal.”

That night before he went to bed, Ripert, who had the room next door to Tony’sat their hotel, Le Chambard, and who had of course been worried about hisfriend, put his ear to the wall and heard peaceful snoring, and slept betterhimself as a result.

His whole adult life, drinking and eating with friends had been Tony’sdefinition of joy. And he had a particular affection for the hearty cuisine inthat sauerkraut-scented corner of the world. But the night out with friends,away from his phone, may well have triggered a moment of self-discovery. Bybriefly reliving his past with Schillinger and Ripert and his crew, he mayhave gotten a glimpse of how far he had come. By experiencing what he hadbeen, he may have seen more clearly what he’d turned into—a character out of asordid, slightly deranged James Ellroy novel, a doomed and desperate lover whohired a private detective to soil an obscure kid actor for the sake of a womanwho respected him less for each effort he made on her behalf. The kind of manwho had talented, loyal people living in constant fear of being banished froma show for which they’d worked hard and given up much to make great. It was anespecially horrible thing for Tony to learn about himself, that he had losthis integrity in pursuit of a woman who seemed to spend her life performingfor the paparazzi and clowning on Instagram, but perhaps there was someconsolation and peace in finally seeing things for what they were.

The next day Tony was fighting with Argento again. She was pulling out of theIndia episode in which she’d been scheduled to appear, she said, because shecouldn’t stand him and his possessiveness. His browsing history showed that inthe last three days of his life he googled “Asia Argento” several hundredtimes. On the night before he died he was involved in a text exchange withher:

AB: I’m okay. I am not spiteful. I am not jealous that you have been withanother man. I don’t own you. You are free. As I said. As I promised. As Itruly meant.

But you were careless. You were rackless with my heart. my life. The Russian.. . It’s only that that hurts’, my A.

Perhaps it’s in both our characters. But you are always honest with me. I wantto be honest with you.

I don’t begrudge you this part of you.

As I hope you will not understand me.

But it’s that stings.

I meant and mean everything I have ever said to you. But I hope you will havemercy on me for these feelings.

AA: I can’t take this.

Argento goes on by saying that she can no longer stay in her relationship withBourdain, who has shown that he is all too similar to the other men she hasdated.

AB: It would have been so easy to have helped me out here. I required solittle. But “f– you” is your answer.

As they continue their dialogue, she complains about his “idiotpossessiveness,” calls him a “ducking [sic] bourgeois,” and tells him to “callthe f–ing doctor.” “I am the victim here,” she says.

AB: My A. I can’t believe you have so little affection or respect for methat you would be without empathy for this.

After the next day’s shoot, Tony turned down Ripert’s suggestion of dinner andwent out by himself. He ate a lot and drink a lot. Ripert got up in the middleof the night and again put his ear to the wall, but he heard nothing.

From Down and Out in Paradise © 2022 by Charles Leerhsen, published bySimon & Schuster on October 11, 2022.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the 988Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis TextLine at 741741 or go to