Oakland County Sheriff's Office
05/27/2010: Mugshot of Josef Meyers, who lived like a king in SoHo and called himself "Prince Josef von Habsburg-Lothringen of Austria."
The prince is not all that charming in this R-rated rags-to-riches story.
Detroit native Josef Meyer, 50, or “Prince Josef von Habsburg-Lothringen of Austria,” lived like a king SoHo, Manhattan, up until May 17, when he was arrested for failing to make child-support payments to his first wife in Michigan.
Maybe he’s not a real prince -- but he is a real FBI informant, theNew York Post reported. He was arrested in 1987 in a drug raid during which police confiscated 2 kilos of cocaine and an automatic weapon, but Meyers was not charged with a crime. Post informants say this is when he became an informant for the FBI.
It was money from his FBI job, not the Austrian royal family, that funded this spurious sovereign's SoHo lifestyle, where he was known to dress in ostentatious suits, eat at the Country Café on Thompson Street, and even, allegedly, carry a cordless hair dryer in his belt like a gun, said the Post.
Although not actually divorced from his Michigan wife, after moving to New York, “Prince Josef” married chandelier designer Michel Trico, with whom he now has three more children, New York Magazine reported.
"It was so bizarre. Their apartment was full of chandeliers and Chinese antiques. It was always cool to be in there because you felt like you were in a Habsburg's apartment,” one neighbor told the Post.
"[Meyers] was dressed up all of the time, even the hottest days. His shirts were all very special. Everything he had was custom-made," Soho Dry Cleaning owner David Sun, who did the family’s washing, told the Post.
Meyers was formerly a patient at a Pontiac, MI mental hospital after attacking his mother at age 21. After his arrest in the 1984 drug raid he was convicted in 1987 of stealing and cashing a $100,000 check. Court records also indicate that he was an FBI informant, the Detroit News reports.
On May 17, Manhattan federal marshals found him hiding in a bedroom closet of a New York home and arrested him for owing $250,000 in child support to his first wife, the Detroit News reported.
"That community at large is much safer with him off the street," NYC private detective Steven Rambam, who had pursued Meyers, told the Detroit News.