With his solid jaw and twinkling blue eyes, Armie Hammer has been hailed as a Hollywood star out of the Gary Cooper mould.
He has starred in films such as The Social Network, The Lone Ranger and a recent remake of Rebecca, and he played the dashing 24-year-old academic who beds a 17-year-old boy in the critically acclaimed gay film Call Me By Your Name.
The 6ft 5in heir to a multi-million dollar industrial fortune even had the perfect family to go with it — a beautiful wife and two young children.
Now, however, his life lies in tatters amid sensational allegations of rape and shocking claims that he harbours deeply disturbing sexual fantasies that extend to non-consensual sado-masochism — and even cannibalism.
Last month — after graphic messages swirled online detailing violent sexual scenarios and ex-lovers claimed his perverted demands traumatised them — Los Angeles police announced they were investigating a former girlfriend’s claims Hammer violently raped her in 2017. She claims she thought he was going to kill her.
With his solid jaw and twinkling blue eyes, Armie Hammer has been hailed as a Hollywood star out of the Gary Cooper mould. The 6ft 5in heir to a multi-million dollar industrial fortune even had the perfect family to go with it — a beautiful wife (pictured) and two young children
The 34-year-old actor has dismissed the allegations by a number of women as ‘vicious and spurious’, insisting that all of his sexual relationships have been ‘completely consensual’.
His lawyer also said of Hammer’s rape accuser: ‘[Her] attention-seeking and ill-advised legal bid will only make it more difficult for real victims of sexual violence to get the justice they deserve.’
Given Hammer once po-facedly questioned why fellow star Casey Affleck continued to work in Hollywood after he faced sexual misconduct allegations (remarks for which Hammer later apologised), some in his industry may be experiencing a little schadenfreude.
He has been dropped like a stone by Hollywood, his agent deserting him as he pulled out of projects including a rom-com with Jennifer Lopez and a Broadway play. And he’s been replaced by Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens in Gaslit, a drama about the Watergate scandal.
As for Death On The Nile, Sir Kenneth Branagh’s new $90 million, star-studded adaptation of Agatha Christie’s most lavish mystery — which had wrapped by the time the scandal broke — its release has been delayed.
Film giant 20th Century Fox reportedly doesn’t know what to do with the movie, in which Hammer plays the charming but deadly lead character Simon Doyle.
And now, in a plot twist almost worthy of Christie herself, it has emerged that Hammer’s own family history is every bit as lurid as the appalling claims swirling around him. No fewer than five generations of Hammers are mired in a scandal that includes debauchery, sexual perversion, drug abuse, corruption and lethal violence.
Hammer has starred in films such as The Social Network, The Lone Ranger and a recent remake of Rebecca (pictured), and he played the dashing 24-year-old academic who beds a 17-year-old boy in the critically acclaimed gay film Call Me By Your Name
The actor’s tycoon great-grandfather was a friend of the Prince of Wales and alleged Soviet spy. His grandfather held drug-fuelled, gun-toting orgies and his father kept a 7 ft-high ‘sex throne’.
As Armie’s estranged aunt, Casey Hammer, observed: ‘The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.’ Her family, she declared, had long been ‘perfect on the outside and twisted on the inside’.
So how exactly has the sordid history of this clan — America’s own Hammer House of Horror — unfolded?
In 1919, Armie’s great-great grandfather, Julius, a doctor, Communist and Russian emigre, conducted an illegal abortion on the wife of a Bolshevik diplomat at his home in New York. She died three days later and Julius was imprisoned for manslaughter.
British intelligence, which had denied him entry into the UK, believed Julius was a Soviet spy whose company, Allied American, was a cover for smuggling Kremlin money to U.S. revolutionaries.
It’s true that Armand, Julius’s son, was chummy with Soviet leaders, including Lenin, and went on to make a fortune doing business with the Communist regime.
Indeed, the name given to Armand, who abandoned his medical career to take over his father’s pharmaceuticals business while he was in jail, was inspired by the ‘arm and hammer’ symbol of the Socialist Labor Party of America.
One biographer described him as a ‘virtual spy’ for the Soviets. White House insiders said they were never sure whose side Armand was on, and FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover insisted he and his cronies were a ‘rotten bunch’.
Armand used his third wife Frances’s money to buy an obscure business, Occidental Petroleum, which then struck rich and became a multi-billion dollar enterprise and the world’s biggest independent oil company.
Armie Hammer with his father Michael Hammer
A cynical opportunist and ‘preening super-capitalist’, according to The New York Times, he was friendly with the corrupt Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi, who allowed him to profit enormously from his country’s oil wealth.
His money bought him influence and friendship with presidents. A former British aide to Armand later revealed that his dodgy, Communist-sympathising boss had showered expensive gifts on both Charles and Princess Diana, as well as allowing them to use his lavishly equipped Boeing 727 to fly around the world.
The aide said the Prince — who wrote to Hammer saying ‘I have so many things to thank you for that I hardly know where to begin’ — had been ‘gullible and naive’.
Despite proclaiming himself a Democrat, Armand was convicted of making secret and illegal campaign contributions to Republican Richard Nixon.
He was also duplicitous in his private life. He put one of his many mistresses, Martha Kaufman, in charge of his art collection (much of it removed from Russian museums by his Kremlin friends) and when wife Frances became suspicious, Armand had Martha change her name and disguise herself with wigs, glasses and plastic surgery.
Martha complained Armand had tapped her phone and installed a tracking device in her car. He also made sexual demands that were ‘extremely humiliating’ and left her nothing in his will, she said.
Armand offered to donate his art collection to an LA museum but changed his mind when it refused his demand to remove the names of other benefactors and hang a life-sized portrait of him and his wife.
The old rogue died aged 92 of bone cancer in 1990, just a day before a gala party he’d been planning to throw to celebrate his life and achievements.
He had only one child, Julian, (by his first wife Olga von Root, a Russian dancer). Julian was plagued by mental illness and drug abuse, and, aged 26, shot dead a friend at his LA home in a dispute over a gambling debt.
He was charged with manslaughter but, after his father spent a small fortune on lawyers, the charge was dropped when Julian claimed self-defence.
Julian had two children — Michael and sister Casey. In a jaw-dropping, self-published 2015 memoir, Surviving My Birthright, Casey revealed the nightmare of living with an alcoholic and methamphetamine-addled father prone to violent outbursts and who was ‘in and out of mental institutions for most of my early life’.
She wrote: ‘His eyes would turn black and bulge out of his head. He would spit and scream words that were mumbled and strung together. The corners of his mouth would fill up with foam and white powder. I later found out that the white powder and foam were the result of all the drugs he did.’
She recalled as a little girl waking one Christmas Eve to the sound of a gunshot and seeing her pistol-toting father beating up her mother, Sue. ‘Honey, go back to bed or Santa won’t come tonight,’ her mother told her. Casey woke the following morning to a house full of presents but no father, as he had ‘gone to hospital’.
Diana, Princess of Wales, pictured dancing with oil magnate Armand Hammer
Sue frequently woke Casey and her half-sister Jan at night so they could ‘literally run for our lives’ and flee his rages.
They fled for good when Casey was 11, although she would return to spend occasional weekends with her dad in California, when he would be surrounded by girlfriends he called his ‘housekeepers’.
Casey said she found photos lying around of her father and his friends having orgies, during which he would be toying with a gun. The pictures, she claimed, sparked repressed memories of her father sexually abusing her as a child.
‘Deep down, I have always known that my father did things to me, but he was my father and I didn’t want to believe it,’ she wrote.
On another visit, Casey said she was chased by one of Julian’s furious ex-girlfriends, high on drugs and brandishing a kitchen knife she had already used to decapitate the little girl’s teddy bears.
And Casey described how her father once even offered to pay his son (her brother Michael) $1 million for his girlfriend, sparking a full-blown fight in a restaurant.
Casey alleged that her family repeatedly avoided trouble with the police and prosecutors thanks to their famous lineage — not to mention their money.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the tycoon Armand thought little of Julian’s business nous and instead passed his empire and fortune (estimated in the early 1990s at $180 million) to his grandson, Michael, father of film star Armie.
Michael (whose family were nominally Jewish) became a Christian because of his wife, Dru Ann Mobley, and her father, an evangelical preacher. He diverted money his grandfather lavished on the arts and cancer research into organisations such as Jews for Jesus and other evangelical ministries.
After Julian died in 1996, Michael moved his family — including the couple’s two young sons, Armie and Viktor — to a new home in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven.
In 2011, one of the family’s art galleries was sued for allegedly selling a forged Jackson Pollock painting for $17 million and the gallery was accused of having made about $70 million selling 63 Abstract Expressionist fakes knocked up by a little-known Chinese artist in the New York borough of Queens.
The gallery settled nine lawsuits and during a trial over a tenth in 2019, while Michael — the sole shareholder in the gallery — was cleared of fraud or racketeering on the grounds that he wasn’t aware the paintings involved were forgeries, accountants testified how he had treated the now-defunct gallery as a personal piggybank, using a company credit card to buy seven cars and expensive trips abroad.
Michael’s wife divorced him in 2012, reportedly following decades of his infidelity. Family insiders have described him as having ‘the mindset of a teenage boy’ and friends told Vanity Fair magazine that he has boasted of keeping a ‘sex throne’ in the California headquarters of the Armand Hammer Foundation, where he lived for several years after his divorce.
A custom-built chair emblazoned with the Hammer coat of arms, it had a hole in the seat, underneath which was a cage big enough to fit a person. Michael allegedly described it as his ‘naughty chair’ and a photo reportedly exists of him sitting on it while holding the head of a smiling blonde woman crouched in the cage below.
A spokeswoman for Michael said the chair was an unsolicited gift sent by a friend as a joke. She also dismissed reports about his alcohol and drug use, finances and history with women as ‘absurd’.
A former friend who knew about Armie’s dad’s sex throne told Vanity Fair he ‘was not the least bit surprised’ to hear later about the actor’s alleged sexual depravity.
Armie, who has his not-so-illustrious surname tattooed on his wrist, inherited more than his blue eyes from his forebears. Despite saying his religious mother raised him with traditional values, he has repeatedly got into trouble.
He left school at 16 after setting fire to school property and, in 2011, a year after he married TV chef Elizabeth Chambers, spent a night behind bars after he was arrested when marijuana was found in his car. (He wasn’t charged as prosecutors considered the amount too small to bother with.)
Elizabeth, now 38, announced in July last year she was divorcing Armie, with sources saying she took the decision after discovering he’d had an affair with a co-star.
It has also emerged that Armie has a secret Instagram account he uses to boast to his ‘b******’ of his sexual conquests and drug use.
He has moaned about the pressure of representing a high-profile family, although others complain that the real injustice of his life is that only his good looks have saved him from career extinction following a series of film flops.
His private life made headlines again last year when he deserted his father and family — including his own daughter Harper, six, and son Ford, four — while they were in Covid lockdown in the Cayman Islands. Armie said he’d felt like a trapped wolf who was close to chewing his foot off.
As soon as he landed in America, he reportedly sent a raunchy text message to his wife that had been intended for someone else.
A girlfriend, Courtney Vucekovich, told Vanity Fair that Armie revealed he had almost got into fist fights with his father in the Caymans. She also claimed the actor had persuaded her to take part in ‘bondage sessions that I was not comfortable with’ and, after their relationship ended, she was treated for trauma.
Another girlfriend, Paige Lorenze, said Armie was ‘kind of a scary person’ and that his mother had told her that the Devil was trying to ‘take’ him.
She said Armie had bombarded her with shocking details about his family, including his grandfather’s ‘crazy sex parties where there would be guns’.
Armie, she said, ‘thought it was cool and was proud of him in a way’. She also confirmed claims that the actor had told girlfriends he wanted to eat their ribs.
There’s been no suggestion Hammer has ever acted on such twisted fantasies, which his lawyer has disputed as salaciously intended to harm him. A family friend has described him as ‘basically a sweet man — who apparently likes kinky sex’.
Meanwhile, Armie has followed his father’s example in plastering his body with tattoos. One of the latest simply reads ‘Chaos’. In his case, it certainly seems apt.