October 28, 2021 | Samantha Henman

The Actor, The President, And The Bodyguard: France’s Wildest Scandal

What happens when you combine a French president, a movie star, some incriminating photos, and a dead body? One of the wildest forgotten scandals of the 1960s, of course. I’d never heard of the Marković affair until I stumbled across it while reading about something else. When I dove into it, I couldn't believe what I was reading. How had I gone so long without hearing about this bizarre unsolved mystery—especially when so many of its players were incredibly famous?

Double Crossed

1968 was a period of great civil unrest, but while the intellectuals and the working class were banding together to spur on change, France's upper crust was getting themselves into all kinds of debaucherous trouble. On October 1, 1968, the body of a man named Stefan Marković was found in less-than-dignified circumstances in a town not far from Versailles. Someone had beaten him, shot him in the head, wrapped his body in a mattress cover, and left it in a dump.

No one knew how he got there, but when the authorities contacted his brother, the mystery deepened. Stefan’s brother Aleksandr had received a letter from him, which he kept at his home in Trieste. It read like something out of a film noir.


In the letter, Stefan claimed that, should anything happen to him, that the authorities should look for actor Alain Delon and one of the star’s old friends, François Marcantoni.

But what was Stefan’s connection to these people—and what did they have to do with his death?

Bodyguard To The Stars

Nathalie and Alain Delon with Stevan MarkovicGetty Images Alain Delon, his wife Nathalie, and their bodyguard Stefan Markovic.


Stefan Marković had been born in Yugoslavia in 1937. When he was in his 20s, he began participating in street fights in the city of Belgrade. It was there that he met Alain Delon. At the time, Delon was no stranger to members of the Serbian mafia.


He also happened to be an international film star.

At first, Delon struck up a friendship with’s Marković’s street-fighting partner, Milos Milos. After bringing Milos on board as his bodyguard, Delon hired Marković as well. With this new job, the young fighters got the chance to leave Belgrade—and become an integral part of Delon’s glamorous and debauched lifestyle.


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Extracurricular Activities

Stefan Marković was a victim, sure. Innocent? That’s up for debate. Marković was a habitual gambler with a penchant for cheating—but that wasn’t his most scandalous pastime. No, not at all.


Marković used his proximity to Delon in the best way he could think of. He’d host wild parties for France’s jet set, but he wasn’t doing it for fun.

Marković was a regular peeping tom—but not for the reasons you’d imagine. His house was filled with secret cameras, and after every party, he’d scour the footage looking for blackmail material that he could use against the French glitterati. It wasn’t just an idle threat, either, as many newspapers came forward after Marković’s murder to confirm that he’d approached them with incriminating photos. And some of his subjects were more surprising than others.


Biting The Hand That Feeds

Marković may have been working for Delon, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t willing to double-cross the star in an instant. Marković was said to have photos of both his boss and of Delon’s friend François Marcantoni. Even more scandalously, Marković supposedly had photos of Claude Pompidou, wife of Georges Pompidou, who was planning to run for French president.

The Markovic Affair EditorialGetty Images Georges Pompidou and his wife Claude in 1971.


When Marković’s activities came to light during his murder investigation, many began to speculate about what could’ve been in the photos—and the rumors that began to fly were unforgettably outrageous.

Caught In The Act

Though Claude and Georges Pompidou were decades older than the French elite that they had apparently been partying with, people began to whisper that Stefan Marković had been in possession of photos showing Claude having group sex. In fact, the authorities did actually find photos of a blonde woman in Marković’s car after his death. Now, of all the stories about the exploits at Marković’s parties, this one was the most jaw-dropping—and accordingly, the one that spread like wildfire.

It got bad enough that Georges Pompidou had no choice but to address them.


His rebuttal brought an even more twisted aspect to the story. He admitted that he had gone to parties with Marković and Delon, but claimed that the photos were fake and that his political enemies had staged them to set him up. Regardless, people whispered that he must have had Marković murdered as payback. So, what was the real story?


The Markovic Affair EditorialGetty Images Alain Delon leaving the Palais De Justice in Versailles where he was called to give further evidence concerning the body of his bodyguard Stefan Markovic.


As the authorities and the media continued to investigate the murder of Stefan Marković, their findings were uneven. One thing was clear: though the woman in the photos did resemble Claude Pompidou, it wasn’t her. Years later, a former police chief who’d worked on the case came forward. He said that the woman in the photos was a sex worker that he’d hired specifically because of her resemblance to Claude.

As for the murder of Stefan Marković? When the authorities arrested Delon’s friend François Marcantoni, it seemed like they had their man. After all, he was not only a well-known gangster, but he’d also been named in Marković’s letter. But then, after a grueling 11-month investigation (during which time he remained in custody), they hit a dead end.


The police had no choice but to release him without charges. In the end, Marković’s murder was never solved—and with so many people angry at him, it’s no wonder why.

The Markovic Affair EditorialGetty Images Stefan Markovic's grave in Elancourt.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

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