Shadow of a star / Ilie Nastase
In an unusual twist, a fountain pen in honour of living celebrity Ilie Năstase has been created by the Italian company Montegrappa. The tennis star from Romania won the men's doubles at Roland Garros in the 1970s with Ion Tiriac and reached the Davis Cup final three times. Nastase won more than a hundred singles and doubles tournament titles in the 1970s and 1980s, was one of the fastest players of his time, renowned for his powerful serve and brilliant strokes, and entertained the crowd while playing. But the recent past of Romania's star is less glamorous. He could face several years in prison.
In 1971, he was personally received by Nicolae Ceausescu, who awarded him the highest decoration of the Order of Merit for Labour as a lieutenant. He also had his hair cut (in half) in honour of the occasion. Next to him was Ion Tiriac (later a banker), director of the award.
Recently, however, his scandals have put the tennis star in the headlines. In 2010, in an interview with the Romanian newspaper Gandul, he said that if he were Romania's head of state, he would resettle the Romanian gipsies in the hungarian Szekler county of Harghita, because this would change the ethnic balance of the region. After being fined for this by the anti-discrimination council (the equivalent of a hefty 41,300 lei), the billionaire star made the fine conditional: 'László Tőkés (Hungarian MEP from Romania) will be put in prison'. According to Nastase, the then MEP of the Hungarian party in Romania (RMDSZ) had constantly insulted Romanians and his earlier statement that 1 December, the national holiday of Romanians, was a day of mourning for Hungarians, was inadmissible.
Despite this, in 2016 he was awarded the Order of the Star of Romania by President Klaus Iohannis. He also brought his 'good reputation' to the West. In 2017, Ilie Nastase was banned from the Wimbledon tennis tournament for racist and sexist remarks about then pregnant Serena Williams, when Nastase was heard to remark: 'Let's see what colour the baby will be. Milk chocolate?. He later insulted Anne Keothavong, the British team manager, by asking the married woman, who is expecting her second child, during a photo shoot with her, which room in the hotel she was staying in "Are we still attracted to each other" added the 70-year-old Nastase.
In 2018, he was disqualified from driving for three months for drink-driving (Nastase admits he didn't drink until he was 30) and hours later he ran a red light on a scooter. For these offences he could get up to five years in prison.
About the fountain pen
The tennis rackets of the time were made of wood, which is what the wooden body of the pen resembles, with the tennis player's signature in red. The clip is also in the shape of a tennis racket, with the cap underneath wrapped in a strip of leather, just as the handle of a tennis racket was made in the same way. The three-coloured ring in front of the nib is reminiscent of Nastase's favourite bracelet in the Romanian national colours. The fountain pen case is a miniature copy of the athlete's tennis racquet case. 780 numbered pieces of the pen have been made and are currently on sale for one million forints. I have not yet seen this pen in Hungary.