French movie icon Brigitte Bardot has been left "literally destroyed" by the tragic suicide of her billionaire ex-husband Gunter Sachs, insisting she "cannot understand" why he would end his own life.
The 78-year-old German filmmaker and photographer was found dead at his chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland last weekend (07May11). Reports suggest Sachs, who had been battling a mystery illness, shot himself.
Bardot, who wed Sachs in 1966 after a whirlwind three-week romance, admits his passing has come as a big shock.
She tells Germany's Bunte magazine the news "literally destroyed" her, adding, "I cannot understand what he did. Nobody expected it."
But the actress-turned-animal rights activist, who remained close to Sachs following their 1969 divorce, will always look back on their time together with fondness.
She says, "That was a wonderful period of my life. After we split up he never stopped proving how generous and friendly he was.
"I think Gunter had a special tenderness for me because I never asked him for anything. When we were together I paid my way."
Sachs, a playboy during his youth, famously wooed Bardot after commissioning a helicopter to fly over her home in Saint-Tropez and shower it with hundreds of red roses.