Lifetime’s new movie, “Who is Clark Rockefeller?” is based on the real-life story called “the longest-running con in FBI history.” Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter (Eric McCormack of “Will and Grace”), pretended to be numerous people, ranging from a talk show host to a Pentagon adviser, before ultimately claiming to be an heir to the famous Rockefeller family. As the fictitious “Clark Rockefeller,” he married Sandra Boss (Sherry Stringfield of “E.R.”), a millionaire with a Harvard MBA and a partner at the prestigious management-consulting firm McKinsey & Company, and they had a daughter, Reigh (Emily Alyn Lind). They were married for 12 tumultuous years. After their divorce, Sandra was awarded custody and “Clark” abducted her. With the help of FBI agent Megan Norton (Regina Taylor), Sandra’s search for her daughter exposed her husband’s lifelong con game.
The real Gerhartsreiter was convicted in June of last year of kidnapping his daughter during a supervised custody visit, despite his attempt to plead insanity. Fox News reported that the investigation revealed in addition to the “Rockefeller” alias
he told a variety of stories: he was a physicist, a financial adviser who renegotiated debt for small countries, a collector who owned $1 billion worth of modern art, a cardiovascular surgeon from Las Vegas, a ship’s captain based in Chile and a member of the Trilateral Commission, a group established to foster cooperation among the United States, Europe and Japan.
Boss, a Harvard-educated management consulting firm executive, testified that she believed her husband’s stories for much of their 12-year marriage. It was only when she hired a private investigator during their 2007 divorce that she realized he “was not the person he’d said he was,” she said.
For more information on the “Clark Rockefeller” con, read the Vanity Fair profile by Mark Seal.