Anthony Bourdain

A tidal wave of equal parts shock and devastation traveled around the world on June 8, 2018 as news of Anthony Bourdain’s death came to light (per CNN). The acclaimed chef, writer, and television host was found unresponsive in his French hotel room. Bourdain had taken his own life at age 61. Heartfelt remembrances poured in from fellow chefs, celebrities, world leaders, and, maybe most significantly, the throngs of viewers who had never met Bourdain but adored him from afar.

The somber news was particularly stunning because, even by Bourdain’s own admission, he had a great gig. "I get to go anywhere in the world with my friends and tell a story about it," he once said. "I get to get drunk, I get to curse and I get paid for it." But as recent years have unfortunately come to prove, mental health struggles do not discriminate. Still, people were — and remain — curious about Bourdain, his death, and the events leading up to it. Even now, years later, there is both a biography and documentary about Bourdain’s life being released.

But there are always going to be more questions than answers, and when that happens, it sets the stage for false information to come to the surface. So let’s dispel some of the false facts about Anthony Bourdain’s death.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Myth: Anthony Bourdain died of a drug overdose

Anthony Bourdain

Relatively new fans of Anthony Bourdain and his work may not have known about the chef’s sordid past, but those who did read any of his books (or the many interviews he did on the topic) know all too well about his struggle with drugs, namely heroin. Because of that past, people were quick to assume some kind of substance crept into play at the time he died — and some of those rumors did get started pretty quickly once the announcement was made of his demise. However, toxicology reports indicated Anthony Bourdain was free of narcotics at the time of his death.

In a weird way, it almost makes his suicide sadder. If he was on drugs, it’s easy to assume the substances distorted his sense of reality and helped convince him the only way to escape his depression was death. But, the coroner’s report found nothing illegal in his system, which meant when he took his own life, it was something his sober mind came to terms with.

Myth: Anthony Bourdain’s estate was worth millions of dollars

Bourdain lonesome

When someone who’s amassed the significant funds Bourdain did over his uber-successful career, one question at the time of their death always lingers: How much money were they worth exactly? There are so many variables that go into the total number, but the monetary value circling "la fortuna de Bourdain" is a bit murky.

Even though reports put Bourdain’s net worth reaching upwards of $16 million, his will told a much different monetary story. His estate was valued at $1.2 million, and he left nearly all of it to his daughter, Ariane. But, because she’s a minor, an unnamed guardian is set to protect the inheritance until she turns 18. Had she passed before the chef, everything would have gone to Myra Quizon, his daughter’s nanny.

Bourdain’s former wife, Ottavia Busia, received his frequent flyer miles (which he accumulated tons of throughout his travels), as well as furniture, books, and a slew of other personal items.

Where was Asia Argento’s piece of the pie in all this? We may never know.

Myth: Anthony Bourdain won’t supply the world any more entertaining literature

Bourdain's comics

Everything Bourdain wrote in his many books was unfiltered and raw, and not many authors are brave enough to let it all hang out for others to judge. The literary world sulked at the fact Bourdain won’t pump out any more stories for the world to absorb, but alas, he did, and they’re not at all what you’re thinking.

While Bourdain has a number of New York Times bestselling books to his name, several months after his death, a collection of comics called "Hungry Ghosts" hit shelves. You heard it right: comic books. Each story highlights his passion for all things food, Japanese culture, and most importantly, horror comics. Bourdain, along with a comic book producer named Joel Rose, hired top-notch artists to illustrate each story, and they’re as gruesome as they are personal to the chef.

For those who love Bourdain’s literary work living in the confines of a bestselling hardcover, these tales of culinary terror are a welcome detour that give a unique peek into his creativity.

Myth: Anthony Bourdain was happy after fame hit

Anthony Bourdain

When Anthony Bourdain’s book "Kitchen Confidential" took the literary world by storm and launched him into superstardom in 2007, his financial woes quickly disappeared, and the world of food and travel became his oyster. But, the fame and fortune, apparently, did little to his quell feelings of inadequacy and depression.

Fans who read an interview Bourdain gave with People not long before he died had no reason to think he was depressed. Bourdain said he was "happy in ways that I have not been in memory" and "happy in ways I didn’t think I ever would be, for sure."

Those who had been on the road with him, however, told a different story. As Bourdain’s fame and television ratings increased, his adventures became more about getting the necessary camera shots than actually mingling with the locals and truly learning about the culture surrounding him. "We chalked it up to being tired," one person who worked with him told Vanity Fair, "But the excitement of the road just wasn’t there for him anymore."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Myth: There were no more episodes of Parts Unknown after Anthony Bourdain died

Anthony Bourdain became a household name in large part due to his immensely popular CNN television show "Parts Unknown." The critically acclaimed program, which debuted in 2013, followed Bourdain as he traveled to all corners of the world, learning about the food, culture, history, and people of the city, region, or country.

Bourdain had begun filming the 12th season of "Parts Unknown" when he died in a hotel in France, where he was working on an upcoming episode (via CNN). And though according to the Los Angeles Times, only one episode had been completed — a trip to Kenya with comedian and fellow T.V. host W. Kamau Bell — producers of the show were able to piece together enough previously recorded footage and audio to complete six additional episodes. Four of these were shot on location in Spain, Indonesia, Texas, and New York City. The remaining two episodes featured highlights, behind-the-scenes moments, and interviews with those who knew Bourdain best.

"Each one will feel slightly different depending on what’s gathered in the field," Amy Entelis, executive vice president of talent and content at CNN, told the Times prior to the season 12 premiere. "They will have the full presence of Tony because you’ll see him, you’ll hear him, you’ll watch him. That layer of his narration will be missing, but it will be replaced by other voices of people who are in the episodes."

Myth: Anthony Bourdain and his girlfriend were having relationship problems at the time of his death

Anthony Bourdain and Asia Argento at an awards show

When someone takes his or her life as unexpectedly as Anthony Bourdain did, the natural reaction is to ask why. The search for that answer almost immediately leads to the individual’s personal life. In Bourdain’s case, this meant the relationship with his actress girlfriend Asia Argento. Many in the public, without any proof, were quick to point to supposed troubles in their relationship as the cause of Bourdain’s suicide. "’People say I murdered him. They say I killed him," Argento told the Daily Mail. "But I understand that the world needs to find a reason. I would like to find a reason too. I don’t have it. Maybe I would feel some solace in thinking there was something that happened."

Search all you’d like, there is zero proof that Bourdain and Argento were experiencing any kind or relationship problems, let alone the type of issues that could conceivably lead Bourdain to take his life. In fact, all evidence points to the contrary. The couple was together in Italy just days before Bourdain’s death. Furthermore, in an extensive interview with media outlet Popula completed just prior his death, Bourdain spoke effusively about Argento, even stating –- with a smile — that he was in love with her.

Myth: A picture of Asia Argento and another man drove Anthony Bourdain to suicide

Anthony Bourdain and Asia Argento in Italy

One specific rumor about Anthony Bourdain and Asia Argento’s relationship that surfaced after his death involved the latter’s supposed infidelity. In the days leading up to Bourdain’s suicide in France, TMZ claimed Argento was spotted in Italy, where photos were taken of her holding hands with an Italian reporter. Some concluded the couple had split or Argento was cheating on Bourdain. Either way, it was theorized that this might have led Bourdain to take his life.

It turns out neither was true. In an emotional interview with the Daily Mail, Argento explained that the couple essentially had an open relationship. "He had cheated on me too. It wasn’t a problem for us," she revealed. "He was a man who traveled 265 days a year. When we saw each other we took really great pleasure in each other’s company. But we are not children. We are grown ups … We had lives, we had wives and husbands, we had children. I cannot think of Anthony as somebody who would do an extreme gesture like this for something like that."

In an open letter she penned following Bourdain’s death, actress Rose McGowan, a friend of the couple, confirmed the nature of the duo’s relationship. "Anthony and Asia had a free relationship," she wrote. "They loved without borders of traditional relationships, and they established the parameters of their relationship early on."

Myth: Anthony Bourdain tweeted about Wuhan just before his death

Anthony Bourdain eating

Years after Anthony Bourdain’s death, new rumors about his death and the events leading up to it continued to surface. One of which dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, an event that didn’t even begin until the year after Bourdain died. In June 2021, an image of a tweet from Bourdain’s certified Twitter account began circulating social media. In the tweet, dated May 22, 2018, Bourdain writes, "This might be the best bat soup I ever had in my life. Someday everyone’s gonna be talking about Wuhan."

Wuhan is the Chinese city where the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, was first reported. Scientists believe the virus may have originated in bats. This makes Bourdain’s tweet seem eerily prophetic. However, every aspect of this supposed tweet is fake. As Reuters points out, a quick look at Bourdain’s Twitter timeline shows that while he did tweet multiple times on May 22, none of his posts had anything to do Wuhan nor bat soup. If you do a little further digging, you’ll find that Bourdain was not even in Wuhan, or anywhere in China, at the time of the alleged tweet. Multiple photos shared by Bourdain on his certified social media accounts, as well some posted by his girlfriend Asia Argento, show the couple in Italy in late May. Furthermore, fact checkers, including Check Your Fact, were unable to find any evidence that Bourdain ever visited Wuhan at any point in his life.

Myth: Anthony Bourdain was working on a documentary at the time of his death

Anthony Bourdain at the Emmy Awards

Another myth about Anthony Bourdain’s death involved a supposed project he was involved in prior to his suicide. In the summer of 2020, social media posts surfaced claiming Bourdain had worked on a documentary about child sex trafficking called "The Silent Children." The posts go on to name the film’s other collaborators as DJ Avicii (Tim Bergling), Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington, and musician Chris Cornell, all of whom committed suicide like Bourdain. According to Reuters, some of these social media posts also alleged that the four men did not die by suicide but instead were killed because they had discovered too much incriminating evidence about illegal human trafficking.

It turns out not one aspect of this tory is true. While "The Silent Children" was a real documentary project, neither Bourdain nor the other three were ever involved and, in the end, the film was never actually made. "None of the people mentioned were ever involved in our project and we were never even remotely in contact with them," a spokesperson for "The Silent Children" explained to Reuters in 2020. "We never got further then what was on the website and were not able to raise funding to move forward. The project was abandoned at least five years ago." As for the manner of their deaths, Reuters points out that all documents and other evidence confirms that all four men committed suicide.

Myth: Anthony Bourdain’s death was the first time he felt suicidal

Anthony Bourdain smiling

When news of Anthony Bourdain’s death circulated the globe, the most common response was shock. How could a beloved figure, doing what he loved to do — cook, eat, and explore — want to end his life? But those who knew Bourdain or followed his life from afar knew that he had battled demons most of his life. In fact, his death was not the first time he felt suicidal.

In his 2011 book "Medium Raw," Bourdain recounted another particularly dark period in his life. Following the end of his first marriage in 2005, the famous chef, who had always been open about his previous self-destructive behavior, tried to drown his sorrows. He traveled down to the Caribbean where he spent his time drinking, smoking, and engaging in some other reckless behavior. It was during this stretch when Bourdain admitted to feeling "aimless and regularly suicidal." It was only after he later moved to London, where he met a new woman, that his, "nightly attempts at suicide ended."

Myth: Anthony Bourdain was following doctor’s advice in treating his mental illness

Anthony Bourdain speaking at an evwnt

Anthony Bourdain was always open about his struggles with depression, addiction, and other personal demons. But, despite any misconceptions, he was not alone on his journey. According to his close friend, actresses Rose McGowan, Bourdain reached out for help prior to his death. In an open letter published days after the world-famous chef committed suicide, McGowan revealed that Bourdain had sought out professional help. The problem was, according to the actress, he did not follow the advice he was given. "Anthony was 61, the same age my father was when he died," she wrote. "My father also suffered from intermittent deep depression, and like Anthony, was part of a ‘pull up your bootstraps and march on’ generation. The a ‘strong man doesn’t ask for help’ generation. I know before Anthony died he reached out for help, and yet he did not take the doctor’s advice. And that has led us here, to this tragedy, to this loss, to this world of hurt."

McGowan didn’t specify what advice Bourdain was given, or by whom. She did go on to say, however, that she’d, "like to think [Bourdain] would want us to have the collective conversation that needs to be had about depression."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.