Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Sepy Dobronyi- The Grove's Last Royalty



On Sunday I went with the family for lunch at Scotty's Landing and then we all trooped over to see the King Mango Parade on Main Highway. Suddenly I see Baron Joseph De B. Dobronyi dressed in his Tyrolian best being driven down the street in a convertible in honor of his status as "famous resident" of the Grove. It brought back a flood of memories. I first met Sepy way back in 1964 when my best friend in High School took me over to his house on Ye Little Wood. My friend lived on El Prado and had somehow ingratiated himself with the famous Baron of the Grove. Baron Dobronyi lived in a house he had designed in the shape of a charging bull that still stands and where he still lives. Imagine our surprise as 14 year old kids to walk into what for all appearances was a swiss chalet complete with crossed skis over the giant mantelpiece. Among all the great stuff laying about this mansion, I was most impressed with a gold statue of a naked Ava Gardner that apparently had been one of his many conquests. We later learned that Sepy sculpted the statue and was one of the great playboys of the western world. To us Sepy was the coolest guy we had ever met and I can tell you his record still stands with me. How cool? Well, he even had his own custom made cigarettes with cork filter and his coat of arms! Super cool!

Many years later, I mentioned him to a friend who worked with me on Wall Street and to my surprise he had met Sepy while skiing in Switzerland! He had impressed my friend just as much as he had me! He was that charismatic. Sepy got around and rubbed elbows with all the Paris Hiltons of his day. He had wonderful stories. Born in Hungary in 1922, he was a military pilot during World War II, escaping the Russians by traveling on foot to Austria, and eventually to Sweden. In Sweden he learned jewelry making and sculpting and was forced to emigrate after some scandalous liaisons with royal figures there. From there he went to Cuba where he hung around with Hemingway and visiting celebrities like Errol Flynn and John Wayne. One of these, a young and not-yet successful Hugh Hefner, who probably modelled himself after Sepy, later convinced Sepy buy his property in the Grove to which he fled in 1961 after Castro came to power. Hefner featured Sepy in the August 1956 issue of Playboy, for his sculpture of Swedish bombshell Anita Ekberg, whom he was dating at the time.


During the 60's and early 70's, Sepy's home was the sight of an almost continous party where anyone who was anyone visiting Miami had to go. Sepy hosted many celebrities such as Frank Sinatra when he was filming his "Tony Rome" detective movies here in Miami, part of which was filmed at his home. This led to his home being used for other films such as "Lenny" the 1974 movie documentary about Lenny Bruce starring Dustin Hoffman. But what people remember most is that Deep Throat, probably the most famous porn film of all time, featuring the luscious Linda Lovelace was filmed at Sepy's home. Ferenc Dobronyi, one of his two sons, remembers what it was like to grow up in Miami as the son of the Deep Throat guy. “Miami in the ’70s was a party,” he says. “It was a helluva experience. When I would go over to his house, there were naked people everywhere — Playboy models, movie stars. He knew how to charm the pants off anybody.” Amen to that! He has managed to charm the pants off everyone, but he has been most successful at literally charming the pants off a cadre of beautiful women!

19 comments:

FerfeLaBat said...

I'd never heard of him before now. S. Fla is full of the most interesting people.

elif said...

hello
it was so nice to read about sepy, you write so well your feelings. I met him three years ago in miami and liked him a lot and he ask me to be modelling to him and I sad 'no'.. My mistake of course, he is a great artist and he honored me with this jest. ıf you ever see him again, pleas tell him that there is turkish girl who loves him a lot... I lost his phone number and he never use internet. My name is elif but he call me 'ALI'...
thanks again.

elif aktug

Dave said...

ferfelebat:

I forgot to mention what makes him most famous really. He was the founder along with "bigote de gato" of the Bodeguita del Medio, a famous nighclub in Havana of the 1950s. All the great musicians, writers and painters of that era hung out there.

Elif:

I believe that his phone number is available or I can get it from a writer friend of mine that lives in Paris. Just send me your contact and I will send you his phone number if you are interested.

elif said...

here is my e-mail address, I work at a national newspaper called AKSAM, in Turkey İstanbul. please write me than I contact with you. thanks a lot...

elif.aktug@aksam.com.tr

Lori Brady said...

I was so happy to see this about "The Great Sepy"! I met Sepy in Miami in 1989, introduced to him by a friend in Miami, who is a Saudi prince! We had so many fun times at Sepy's- partying in the wine cellar, his "open house" brunches & many fantasic events!
Sepy, I am back in Florida & will call you!
Love & Miss You, My friend!

BarbieG said...

Dave, I must say you've captured the essence that is Sepy in all his glory. I met him while my father worked for him in the 1960s. Sepy's home was gorgeous, and his two sons were good kids. If you have his ph. number, I'd appreciate if you'd pass it on, as my dad has passed away and I'd like to let Sepy know. Thanks.
Barbie G.
Coolchicki@aol.com

chynna67 said...

My father inherited, from his deceased sister (of Miami), a brass nude sculpture by Dobronyi. It once belonged to Linda Lovelace and I believe the sculpture may be of Lovelace as well. Does anyone know of galleries or museums who would be interested in this piece or know where it could be appraised?

Dave said...

Barbieg: Sepy's address is 3980 Wood Ave Miami FL 33133. I don't have his phone number off the top of my head, but you can drop him a note and I am sure he'll contact you.

Chynna67: You may also want to write sey with a discription or picture of the piece and he can give you the provenance so you can get it appraised. I doubt it is of Lovelace since I don't think Sepy was sculpting at that time. I would guess it was his model Bunny Yeager or some starlet from the 1960s.

patrice said...

The real Sepy is a major egotistical person who is extremely self centered,selfish and dishonest.He is an opportunist who uses anyone who can advance his goals particularly women.Watch out for his temper!

Patrice

Marissa said...

A wonderful man, Sepy passed away last night at the age of 92.

Ingrid Urich-Sass said...

Sepy was an amazing man!! He lived life in his own terms. He loved women. He loved adventure, he loved Bali. He taught me how to smoke cigars. He passed on a very special date, parasha Beha'alotca, which means to elevate- Passing on this date is special. May his soul find the peace he was looking for.
I will always love him.

jockfullofimages said...

Sepy was probably the most colorful and genuinely sweet man I have ever met. He was true and stood by his word with the utmost respect. I produced a 7 day film in his house during a Hurricane and he was a so understanding and cooperative. My blessing to him and his family. Jo Blanco

Ninina Mameyez said...

I get the sneaking feeling that my dad met Sepy (and, mind you: my mother was the Hungarian)! Another coincidence: I have a deep-seated interest in Balinese art, myself (and made my first trip to Bali in '87--fancy that). What a personage! I'm so glad I've discovered your blog--I'll check in from time to time.

ayaclio said...

I just found out about Sepy's passing! I must have been hiding under a rock.
Sepy, you broke the mold! There will never be any one like you, ever! You were the host with the most. I will always have fond memories of your Saturday gatherings, as well as the wine cellar, where you liked to show your champagne sword opening skills.
Will never forget how you enjoyed going to Alabama Jacks one day and a glitzy affair the next, in your own unique style.
Here is to you hosting special parties in heaven!

Ayaclio said...

If you knew Sepy, and would like to celebrate his life, I would love to get some of the old crowd, from the Grove and Miami Beach, together. I have been away for a while, but think it would be so much fun. If you still keep in touch with the likes of Frank Hall, and such, contact me at ayaclio@ bellsouth.net, and let's see about having a Sepy celebration!

Robyn Reichek said...

I worked on a Playboy shoot at his house in the 90's it was truly incredible, and so was he

Items from his estate for sale on ebay:


http://www.ebay.com/sch/sepydobronyi/m.html?hash=item3cc0610f79&item=260925624185&pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&_trksid=p4340.l2562

Robyn said...

How many people can you say would have 6 naked beautiful women watering his tropical gardens.
He told everyone of them he loved them and wanted to marry them, and of course they believed him, his Viking bed I would imagine was convincing. "what a romeo".
It was an honor to know him and yes regardless of his sexual prowess he called me sister. A shrewd business man; although there was deep pain from his past from WW11 he never forgot it and was perceptive to those who had suffered in life. My love and sympathy to his family. Baron Sepy Dobronyi was a man's man.
An Original.

Dave said...

Robyn: I agree with you, Sepy was a man of his times and a very good person in his heart. He was a polarizing figure in an age of women's liberation as he was somewhat old fashioned and some might label him mysoginistic. But what always stood out for me was that in ANY situation he remained gracious and accomodating to everyone. He never put anyone down or talked down to them. We tend to forget that his generation lived through a worldwide depression and the horrors of WWII when hunger, desease and suffering where a common thread. Men like him may be considered old fashioned and out of touch by today's standards, but I dare say the world was made a little better by them. May he rest in peace!

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