UPDATE, Friday March 6th: Monaco officials said Friday that the body of British boxer Michael Graydon had been discovered, 13 days after his disappearance, in a ravine behind the small church, Saint Devote, in Monaco where he was last seen on several of the principality's 520 video cameras. A local woman reported to police that she smelled a "bad odor" in the area. Detectives found Graydon in a small "crevasse" partially covered with vegetation.
It was not immediately clear why there had not been a more thorough search of the area from the start, since police identified the church as where he was last seen. Private surveillance cameras indicated Graydon climbed over a wall near the ravine and may have fallen down into a hole. Up to ten members of Graydon's family had been in Monaco searching for Graydon since his disappearance and one of his sisters said they were "devastated."
MONTE CARLO, Monaco — If he’s still alive, or even if he isn’t, 29-year-old Michael Graydon, a tough former boxer from Bristol, U.K., has pulled off the impossible: He’s managed to vanish in one of the richest, safest and most monitored areas in the world: Monaco.
Despite more than 520 cameras positioned all over the principality, which is smaller than New York’s Central Park, Graydon stumbled drunk out of a posh bar in the shadow of Monaco’s famed pink palace at 1:40 a.m. on Feb. 21 and hasn’t been seen since, according to police and family members. He was “escorted” out of the bar by a bouncer after he had a fight in the toilet with a French man, according to a friend who was with him at the time.
“This has been a horrible rollercoaster ride,” said fellow boxer Adrian O’Connor, 38, who accompanied Graydon to Monaco, where they planned to attend a boxing match Saturday night that cost them both about $900 a ticket. O’Connor, who’s been joined by about 10 of Graydon’s friends and family from Bristol, vowed, “We’re not leaving until we find him.”
O’Connor, as well as Graydon’s partner, Kira Billiau, and other relatives are hoping for the best, but Graydon never showed up for the match featuring fellow Bristolian Lee Haskins. Nor did he catch his plane home to England on Sunday. This worries them. The stocky, tattooed Graydon is the father of an 18-month-old son named Reuben.
“You have to know your man,” O’Connor told the Daily Beast. “He lived for boxing. Michael could have been on a yacht surrounded by 2,500 supermodels, Michael Jackson, and Elvis Presley and he would have left to go to the boxing match.”
If this were anywhere else on the planet, it would certainly merit a police investigation. But since it happened in Monaco, which has had an extraordinarily thorough system of video surveillance for more than 30 years, it’s as if Graydon is a modern-day Houdini. Gossip in Monaco is rife, and early rumors say Graydon was “disappeared” into its plush prison on the Mediterranean, temporary home to many a drunk expat. But police say he was never there.
“This just doesn’t happen in Monaco,” says Joel Stratte-McClure, who covered the principality in its heyday in the 1980s as a reporter for People. “I hope they find this guy alive, and it they do they should give him an award. They’ve got the most sophisticated surveillance system in the world. It’s very important they show the billionaires that they’re safe there. They changed over from analog to digital in 2005 and they ought to be able to find out within seconds where this guy went and what happened to him.”
Police have already dredged Monaco’s harbors as part of the widening search for Graydon.
Claire Heaton, a small-business owner who has lived down the coast in Nice for 15 years and is in Monaco every week, also hails from Bristol and is helping the family with a press campaign that’s resulted in a Facebook page with more than 10,000 likes in less than 48 hours. The family has already raised more than $20,000 to help them with hotel expenses while they stay on the Riviera.
“I think this case is going to explode,” Heaton said. “Something very strange is going on. There are cameras covering every inch of Monaco. People are very careful about what they say about Prince Albert and [Princess] Charlene because they know their phones are sometimes tapped. Monaco is like the NSA having its own country. It makes no sense that Michael could just disappear in a place like that.”
According to O’Connor, Graydon got in trouble within hours of landing at Nice International Airport last Thursday. O’Connor said he and Graydon booked a hotel room in Nice the first night and went out to a few local bars as Nice’s famed Carnival celebration swirled around them. They returned to their hotel room in the early morning hours and while O’Connor was “having a wee,” Michael disappeared. O’Connor returned to the bar they’d been in and stayed out until 5 a.m. When he got back to their hotel, Graydon was there—with quite a story.
“Michael said he wandered off into the street and was suddenly surrounded by a couple of cars with a bunch of guys in them,” O’Connor said. “My mate had had a few drinks and he said he might have thrown a punch. He wasn’t sure. He said he spent the next few hours hiding out in the Carnival grandstand around the big heads.”
O’Connor and Graydon then left Nice on Friday and checked into the Marriott Hotel in Cap d’Ail, a French town just over the border from Monaco, which is 12 miles east of Nice. They were at the La Rascasse bar, which is perched on Monte Carlo’s million-dollar yacht-studded harbor just below “The Rock,” where Prince Albert, Charlene, and their infant twins, Jacques and Gabriella, live in a huge pink palace.
O’Connor said Graydon had an “altercation” in the toilet of La Rascasse. “Someone got hit,” he said. The bouncer escorted Graydon to the exit and video footage the police showed O’Connor indicated that Graydon left alone.
Monaco police spokeswoman Valerie Campora told The Daily Beast that Graydon was last caught on tape near the Sainte Dévote church near a bus stop. Campora said police are checking to see if Graydon might have boarded one of the night buses for Nice that pass by once an hour. This theory seems unlikely, as there was not a bus at that stop until 2:42 a.m., nearly an hour after Graydon left the club.
“We have checked our cameras and we’re now trying to get footage from private cameras on the yachts and hotels,” Campora said. “It’s a wait-and-see situation.”
Kelly Mann, Graydon’s sister, said the wait is agonizing for the family.
“Michael’s a really good man,” she said. “We haven’t slept, we’ve barely eaten since getting here. We just want to find him.”
Locals are so unaccustomed to such news that they can’t hazard a guess as to what could have happened.
“You just don’t see that here,” said a prominent local official, who did not want to be named. “It just doesn’t happen. And most people know you can’t behave the way that guy did here. It’s not a smart idea. Maybe he’ll surface in a few days with a really bad headache. There’s no other good outcome.”