THE MYSTERIOUS figure dubbed the Piano Man was today named as Andreas Grassl.

Neighbours in the tiny German village of Prosdorf recognised his photograph after an international appeal to identify him.

More than four months after he turned up soaking wet on a beach in Kent it emerged that his family runs a farm in the 50-strong community on the Czech border.

Mr Grassl, considered by many in Prosdorf as a loner, was last seen there a year ago. It is believed he travelled to Paris before being found near Sheerness.

"I have seen the photo and that is him," said Prosdorf resident Stefan Hooter, 20. "I know that he has been away for a year but nobody knew that he had gone abroad. I had no idea he was in Paris or England.

I have met his parents several times but they have not mentioned Andreas.

I did not know anything about his disappearance.

"I used to play football with him, but he had few friends in the village.

He tended to go off by himself. We did not think anything was untoward when we did not see him for a while. I just thought he was away."

After months of silence Mr Grassl finally spoke to doctors in a British hospital and is said to have told them that he is a gay German who arrived on board the Eurostar.

Mr Grassl, thought to have two sisters, told them he had lost his job in Paris and claimed he was trying to commit suicide when Kent police picked him up in April.

Now, after being discharged from the Little Brook Hospital, Dartford, he has been flown home to his family.

"They live in a big house but are not well off," said one neighbour who did not want to be named.

"This is a region of Bavaria where people struggle to get by.

"We have seen reports that Andreas is gay but to be honest that is the first we knew about it. It is fair to say this is not the type of place you would choose to come out. You would probably go to a bigger place."

Mr Grassl earned his nickname after he was first taken to a hospital in Gillingham where, in an attempt to discover his identity, staff gave him a pencil and paper.

Instead of writing his name he drew detailed pictures of pianos. Then, when sat in front of a piano in the hospital chapel, he is said to have played classical music for hours.

Michael Camp, his social worker, said at the time: "I cannot get within a yard of him without him becoming very anxious. Yet at the piano he comes alive. When we took him to the chapel piano it really was amazing. He played for several hours, non-stop, until he collapsed."

After an international appeal dozens of theories on his possible identity emerged. Yesterday, as details of his Riddle:

first conversation with doctors emerged, it was claimed he was a hoaxer with only a very modest musical ability.

One member of staff said he had worked with mentally ill patients and had used their characteristic to dupe doctors.

It is believed he drew a picture of a piano because that was the first thing that came into his head.

When he was at a piano he did not, contrary to reports, play it well but rather "kept tapping one key continuously".

The German government has confirmed Mr Grassl is a citizen and returned to his native Bavaria on Saturday.

Agencias: Associated Newspapers Ltd.
Autor: Paul Sims
Medio: Evening Standard (London)
Fecha: Martes 23 de agosto de 2005
Notas: (c)2005. Associated Newspapers Ltd.. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.
ID: 1859 Editar

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