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Sepy Dobronyi

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Baron Joseph "Sepy" De Bicske Dobronyi (April 20, 1922 – May 29, 2010) was a Hungarian-born American sculptor.[1][2][3][4]

Dobronyi was known for his bronze and gold sculptures of celebrities, such as a 42-inch tall Golden Statue of movie star Anita Ekberg.[5][6][7] "The Ekberg Bronze", was featured in the August 1956 issue of Playboy magazine by Hugh Hefner, a friend of Dobronyi.[6][8][9]

Early life[edit]

Joseph De Bicske Dobronyi was born to József Dobronyi and Szidónia Petric, in the town of Bicske, Hungary,[10] on April 20, 1922. He was raised by his mother.[11]

World War II[edit]

In 1940, Dobronyi was drafted into the Hungarian Air Force during World War II, serving as a pilot.[12] He specialized in transporting the wounded to hospitals from the front lines for the Red Cross. Dobronyi was one of six pilots chosen to try out the world's first Rocket-powered aircraft.[13] In 1945, he was captured by the Red Army, after his airplane was shot down over Hungary.[13] Dobronyi was held in prison in occupied Hungary but managed to escape in one day and immediately returned to Budapest.[13]

Europe to Cuba[edit]

Hiding out for a few months, he managed to earn a living by working odd jobs. He obtained a job as an interpreter for the American Military Mission, also known as Diplomatic mission, where his talent of speaking six languages were useful. He spoke Hungarian, French, English, German, Swedish[10] and Spanish. By 1946, Dobronyi had been refused a passport, so he decided to leave the country and headed to Sweden to visit some friends of the family who were living there. It took him six months to walk from Budapest to Sweden.[3] Since he did not have a visa or papers it was a challenge to travel through German-occupied territory, including Denmark.[12]

Six months later, he reached into Stockholm and started an apprenticeship at the House of Thomason, crown jewelers for the Swedish Royal Family, where he studied wood and metal working, ceramics, and sketching.[14] By 1947, he was selected to execute the design of the brooch that Folke Bernadotte gave to Princess Elizabeth on the occasion of her engagement to Prince Philip.[13]

At this time, an offer was presented by the King Gustaf V of Sweden to Dobronyi to travel to Caracas, Venezuela, which he accepted.[13] Dobronyi with only $150.00, his suitcase and the suit on his back[10] had the urge to have an epic New Year's Eve decided to stay in Cuba. Since the Caracas contract was never signed, Dobronyi searched for a job and was able to find work in a jeweler's shop.[13] This job enabled him not only to survive to start saving in order to purchase his own tools. Gradually he began designing his own ideas, and working on them in his apartment after hours.[12] His dedication and love for the arts proved fruitful as he started to build up a clientele and within a year he was able to fund his own studio. He incorporated his European style, and with his elegant and original approach to his designs, and the attraction from the Cuban society proved successful. Each work was signed with his trademark signature, "Sepy". His clientele included American tourists[12] and people in the entertainment industry as well as the local Cuban society. In just a few years, his studio became the mecca for celebrities such as Ernest Hemingway, Errol Flynn, and Nat King Cole to name a few. A necklace of shells in a net design was made for Mary Welsh Hemingway, who personally requested it.[15] This brought more American customers to Dobronyi as well, as publicity for his studio with the magazines and newspapers in the U.S. .[16]

During this time, Dobronyi's studio was doing very well, and the reputation he had with society was positive, he was able to take some time to dedicate to his first childhood fascination, African sculpture. He had always found time for his carvings throughout the years, and in the 1970s he made five expeditions to New Guinea[17] in search of Asmat art.[3] While he resided in Cuba, he came across old African Native Art with this his art became known as Afro-Cuban Sculpture. Dobronyi was welcomed into the secret ritual dances and festivals of the Namigos, who were the Afro-Cuban group of natives. This was an honor to be welcomed into these ceremonies as they were more secret than any of the other South American Tribes.[3]

Cuba to America[edit]

Dobronyi came to the United States in 1959.[18] On December 20, 1963, 40-year-old Dobronyi, who had citizenship in Hungary, Sweden and Cuba, was sworn in a federal courtroom, as a United States citizen by Judge Emett C. Choate. The Federal Building held a pre-holiday session and this was a very special day for the Baron as it had been a goal of his ever since the days of World War II.[18]

Family and personal life[edit]

Romantic relationships[edit]

Dobronyi claimed romantic involvements with celebrities and personalities, including Anita Ekberg,[5][6][15] whom Sepy met[5][6] at a Los Angeles art gallery exhibit of primitives, when she was herself unknown;[10][17] Ava Gardner;[13] Brigitte Bardot;[15] and Linda Christian[13]

Marriages[edit]

  • Alicia Hartman y Portela (1913-2009) (June 5, 1953 – May 17, 1960) (divorced). Daughter of Walter Hartman, owner of the first Chrysler car dealership in Cuba[19]
  • Amy Green Brown (August 11, 1922 – November 19, 1989) (1960-?) (divorced). New York City heiress, daughter of Norvin Hewitt Green and Irene Pierce of New York[20][21]
  • Inger Anette Nordquist (1945-) (1969–1972) (divorced)[19]
In 1969, Dobronyi married third wife Anette Nordquist, a statuesque Swedish blonde. Two years later, the Herald reported that at 8:12 a.m. on July 1, 1971, Dobronyi became the first person in Miami to file for a no-fault dissolution under a revised state divorce law effective at midnight.[22]
  • Playboy Bunny Rita Lino (1958-) (May 9, 1977 – 1983) (divorced)[19]
  • Eszter Paula Barany (1971-) (1999-2002) (divorced)

Children[edit]

  • Joseph (April 26, 1961 ) (born Joseph Bicskei Dobronyi Jr.) – with Amy Green Brown Dobronyi[22]
  • Ferenc (September 22, 1962) (born Ferenc Norvin Dobronyi) – with Amy Green Brown Dobronyi[22]

Organizations[edit]

Cuban Art Center[edit]

Dobronyi was one of the best known men in Havana. Old tourist literature credits Dobronyi as the founder of The Cuban Art Center in 1951. It was a cooperative attempt to provide a broader audience for the artists of Havana and the island and to stimulate the sale of their works. He had always been interested in Cuban culture and specialized in primitive, semi-abstract sculpture.[23] A modern "Native Bazaar", which centralized the display of the art and sculpture of 187 Cuban artists, put shirts on artists' backs and bankbooks in their pocket for the first time in the island's history.[9][10][24]

Bodeguita del Medio[edit]

Dobronyi was also the co-owner of the Bodeguita del medio[25] which was the hangout for the jet-setters of that era. In 1951, Dobronyi convince owner Angel Martinez to convert his store into a tavern. There he became the hub of not only the art community but also of the social circles. Close friends were Ernest and Mary Hemingway, Hugh Hefner, Nat King Cole John Wayne and Errol Flynn to name a few.[23][26]

Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce[edit]

In 1985, Dobronyi was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.[13]

International Explorers Society[edit]

Dobronyi was co-founder and director for the International Explorers Society. This society was established for the purpose of promoting exploration and furthering the knowledge of geography, archaeology, anthropology and other related sciences through expeditions, field trips and research projects. The Society actively supports programs for the protection of the environment, the conservation of wildlife, and the preservation of archaeological and historic sites.[27]

Discography[edit]

LP: Sepy Presents: La Bodeguita del Medio, The Music of Havana's Most Fabulous Cafe. Recorder by Riverside Records and Produced by Bill Grauer Productions, Inc, New York, 1957.[28]

Death[edit]

Dobronyi died of liver cancer on May 29, 2010, at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach at age 88.[22]

The item from his estate that got the most attention since Dobronyi's death was old underwear of Queen Elizabeth II.[29] The Miami Herald reports that the story of the Royal panties has circled the web and print magazines, after their sale was first reported by celebrity news website TMZ.com. Louis F. Cruz who markets and manages the estate sale, believes that the Queen's undergarments are authentic.[30]

Hansons Auctioneers and Valuers, the same auction house that handled the sale of Queen Victoria's undergarments back in 2008 contacted the estate and expressed their interest in handling the sale.[31]

References[edit]

  1. Time. LXXIV (24): 40. December 14, 1959. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. King, Wayne (April 9, 1973). "Many Finding Inflation No Bar to the Good". The New York Times. p. Front Page.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Sweeny, Donna (April 2001). "A Lust for Life". The Coconut Grove Times, Local Color. Coconut Grove. pp. B1–B2.
  4. Dobronyi, Sepy (February 23, 1972). "Wine: A Way of Life". The Miami News. p. Front Page.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Playboy's Fifth Anniversary Scrapbook". Playboy (5th Anniversary Issue): 40. December 1958.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "Twenty Years of Playboy". Playboy (20th Anniversary Issue): 199. January 1974.
  7. Murphy, Kay (August 25, 1963). "The Dream Studio of Sepy Dobronyi". The Miami Herald. p. 3–H.
  8. "The Ekberg Bronze". Playboy: 21. August 1956. Archived from the original on December 8, 2011. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  9. 9.0 9.1 "iPLAYBOY Issue Preview". p. 21. Retrieved October 31, 2011.(subscription required)
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Eisenberg, Howard (March 1961). "He's the Barer of Good Nudes". Cavalier Magazine: 44–47, 80, 85.
  11. Dobronyi, Sepy (February 23, 1972). "Wine: A Way of Life". The Miami News. Special Edition. p. Front Page.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Hanbury-Tenison O.B.E., D.L.,F.R.G.S., Robin (2005). Worlds Within (First ed.). The Long Rider's Guild Press. pp. 24–29. ISBN 1-59048-162-3. Reflections in the SandCS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 13.7 13.8 Benson, David; Sepy Dobronyi (March 24, 1962). "Kicked Out by a King". Today. ME- and the Gold-Plated Girls. 5 (109): 18–19.
  14. Wilson, Wanda (October 16, 1960). "Studio of a Famous Artist". Ft. Lauderdale News and Sun Sentinel. p. Front Page.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Benson, David; Sepy Dobronyi (March 17, 1962). "Every Inch of Bardot glistened in the Sun". Today. ME- and the Gold-Plated Girls, The Adventures of Sepy Dorbronyi. 5 (108): 57.
  16. Benson, David; Sepy Dobronyi (March 31, 1962). "Oh, I'll Get Such A Hiding". Today. ME- and the Gold-Plated Girls, The Adventures of Baron Sepy Dobronyi. 5 (110): 24–25.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Martin, Eunice (March 19, 1975). "Sepy shows his scar and New Guinea Art". The Miami News. Lifestyles Section B.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Buchanan, James (December 21, 1963). "Sculptor Carving Out New Life in America". The Miami Herald. p. 2B.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Brecher, Elinor J. (June 4, 2008). "Grove eccentric Baron 'Sepy' Joseph de Bicske was Miami's Hugh Hefner". The Miami Herald. Retrieved October 27, 2011.[dead link] Alt URL
  20. Kreuger, Charles O. (December 10, 1960). "Cowboy Bandits Rob Sculptor". The Miami News. p. Front Page.
  21. Branagan, Kim. "Kim's New England Ancestors (and more)". Retrieved December 11, 2011.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 Brecher, Elinor J. (June 6, 2010). "Playboy 'Baron' Lived Larger Than Life". The Miami Herald.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Tynan, Kenneth (February 1960). "A Visit to Havana". Holiday: 50.
  24. "In All of Cuba". Harper's Bazaar: 151. January 1957.
  25. "Flying Down to Cuba". Harper's Bazaar: 136,141. January 1954.
  26. Ft. Lauderdale News and Sun-Sentinel, Section Your Home and Garden, October 16, 1960, Studio of a Famous Artist, Front Page by Wanda Wilson.
  27. International Explorers. International Explorers Society: Bill Spohrer. XV (4): 5. 1988/89. Official Journal of International Explorers Society Check date values in: |year= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  28. Navarrete, William (October 9, 2007). "Sepy, el húngaro más habanero" (in Spanish). Paris, France. Retrieved October 25, 2011. Esta es la carátula del LP Sepy presents: La Bodeguita del Medio. The music of Havana's most fabulous caféCS1 maint: Unrecognized language (link)
  29. Carey, Bridget (March 31, 2011). "Selling the Saga of Sepy". The Miami Herald. Section B. p. Front Page.
  30. Carey, Bridget (December 17, 2010). "Take a Peek at Queens Royal Panties". The Miami Herald. Section B, Final Edition. p. Front Page.
  31. "British Auctioneer – We Want the Queen's Panties!". TMZ.com. December 6, 2010. Retrieved October 23, 2011.

External links[edit]

  • Sepy Dobronyi IMDb [1]
  • The Ekberg Bronze in Playboy [2](subscription required)
  • The International Explorers [3]


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