Living a double lie

Phony Rockefeller created another alter ego by the name of Eric Rowe-Price who mingled in the world of antiques

Eric Price Eric Price
By Alex Beam
Globe Columnist / January 21, 2011

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When we last checked in on “Malcolm Rockefeller’’ — real name: Eric Price — the former car salesman had just been indicted in Maine, accused of stealing some financial documents during an ill-advised visit to some real Rockefellers: Liv and Ken Shure of Camden, Maine.

After the indictment came down in August, Malcolm Rockefeller vanished. However, Price, now using the alias “Eric Rowe-Price,’’ has been a busy boy indeed.

Rowe-Price, Malcolm’s alter ego and supposed first cousin, has been haunting the world of antiquarian books and antiques, and socializing in New York and on Beacon Hill, where he claims to live in a town house with a sightline to Louisburg Square. “I must gather my thoughts and take [my corgis] Cruickshank and Pugin for their Sunday constitutional around Beacon Hill,’’ was a typical Rowe-Price entry on his rare books blog, Frognall Dibdin’s Shelves. (Frognall Dibdin was a famous 19th-century bibliophile.)

As recently as Jan. 9, he e-mailed a friend that he hoped to revive his blog. After being revealed as a fraud in this space two weeks ago, that now seems unlikely.

The Rowe-Price masquerade, which has also disappeared from the Internet, had a long and successful run. Brad Emerson, an antiques dealer and blogger in Blue Hill, Maine, monitored Rowe-Price for a long time, and with the help of friends managed to reconstitute Price’s blog and Facebook posturings. Eric Rowe-Price claimed to be a Harvard graduate (nah), trustee of the T. Rowe-Price Family Foundation (it doesn’t exist), a special attache for the State Department to Iraqi Ministry of Cultural Heritage (no), and so on.

He peppered his blog entries with allusions to fictional relatives such as Thomas Rowe-Price IV, a cousin Douglas Duck Forbes, married to Alexandra Minot Rockefeller, and cousin Eliot Handsyd Price. Because the fictional Rowe-Price was related to the fictional Malcolm Rockefeller, some characters from that previous charade — Gabriella Crowninshield, aunt Helen Price Saltonstall — popped up in the Rowe-Price world as well. Aunt Helen sometimes ran the blog when Eric was incapacitated. “He built an entire Boston genealogy,’’ Emerson marvels. “It was like attending a play.’’

Emerson started noticing that certain stately homes featured in the Rowe-Price blog as belonging to his gilded relatives had been featured in The New York Times real estate section. But there’s more. Emerson revealed on his blog that Price hijacked the physical identity of a complete stranger to play the part of Rowe-Price on Facebook.

The real Eric Price, who appears here in a snapshot circulated to antiques dealers, warning them of his imposture, is 32 years old, about 6 feet tall, plump, and balding. But on Facebook he was a dynamic-looking 29-year-old, with a full head of hair and a coterie of attractive friends. To pull that off, he used pictures of Josh Abramson, the cofounder of the website Abramson is a 21st-century public figure, meaning there are lots of photos of him on the Internet. Most egregiously, Price posted a picture of Abramson addressing an Internet conference, and claimed it was himself making an appearance at Davos, the schmoozy globaloney jawfest in Switzerland!

“This is the first I’ve heard of this,’’ a slightly befuddled Abramson told me.

Call me Jacques Who knew? Jacques d’Amboise, one of America’s most famous living dancers and choreographers, was born Joseph Ahearn in Dedham in 1934. Talk about pedigree; his father was Joseph P. Kennedy’s personal telegraph operator, and used to travel with the family when they migrated from Hyannis to Palm Beach to winter in Florida.

In his just-published memoir, “I Was a Dancer,’’ d’Amboise explains how his Amy Chua-like stage mother changed her entire family’s names to d’Amboise, including her husband’s. Joseph’s brother John became Jean Achille d’Amboise; Madeleine became Ninette, and so on.

“To this day, I am dumbfounded that Pop acquiesced,’’ d’Amboise writes. “To legally change the names of the entire family — including himself — is bizarre.’’

Alex Beam is a Globe columnist. His e-dress is