The mute “Piano Man” who walked out of the sea in a suit two years ago had a nervous breakdown because of a split with his gay lover, it has been revealed.
The man spent months in a British psychiatric clinic after he was found in Sheerness, Kent, on April 7th 2005.
He was wearing a suit with the labels cut out and had no passport.
Staff at the Medway Maritime Hospital gave him a pen and paper with which to write his name, but the man drew a detailed sketch of a grand piano instead.
When they brought a piano to him, he played it for hours, earning himself the nickname of the “Piano Man.”
Now Andreas Grassl, 22, is completely recovered and living in Basel, Switzerland, where he studies French literature at university.
Markus Groebel claims to be a friend of Grassl, whom he says he met in gay nightclub Elle et Lui. He told The Scotsman:
“He met someone in France. It was a love affair. And it all went wrong and he cracked up. That’s it. I guess that’s why he doesn’t like to talk about it.”
Originally from a small farming village in Bavaria, Germany, Grassl left because of homophobic attitudes. First he went to a Pornic, a French fishing village.
Karl, a fellow Basel University student, told The Scotsman: “He fell in love with someone in France, it fell apart and so did he. Pornic was where the wheels came off.
“He only spoke once about Pornic, but he says it was where he ‘became ill’. He never mentioned anything else about himself.”
Karl added: “He is a self-contained man, bright, brilliant at French … but there is something inherently sad about him.
“No-one has a bad word to say about him, probably because he doesn’t reveal much about himself.
“He is very well-liked by the girls on the course. Of course, they don’t see a skirt-chaser but a sensitive, intelligent man capable of quoting great tracts of poetry and helping them all with their homework when most of the guys just want to sleep with them.”
His friends at university say that Grassl spends most hours outside lectures playing an electric keyboard.
They all agree that Grassl had his heart broken by a man in France, a personal tragedy that sent him spiralling into the “Piano Man” breakdown.
But he has found himself in the cosmopolitan Swiss city, where he enjoys poetry, philosophy and most of all, his anonymity.
Grassl refuses all requests to be interviewed. He said: “That Piano Man stuff, no-one is interested in that anymore.”