The first thing to know about Alfonso de Portago is that at 17, for a $500 bet, he flew an aeroplane under a bridge.
A profile of de Portago, written in 1956, was entitled 'The Man Who Could Do Everything', and apparently he could. One of the leading amateur jockeys in Europe, twice he rode in the Grand National, and he was expert also in swordsmanship - in every sense, apparently - as well as boxing, tennis, skiing and bobsleighing.
Born in London, of a Spanish father and an American mother, Portago might have been put on earth for gossip columnists. He was a nobleman, and he was rich, a free spirit before the phrase was thought of, one who lived by his own rules. Fluent in several languages, languid of manner, with a cigarette permanently in the corner of his mouth, he had laconic charm to throw away, as comes across in an interview recorded in Nassau a few months before his death.