My friend and former boss Carlos Gracida died yesterday in Florida after a freak polo accident. He was 53 years old and considered by many to be the greatest polo player who ever lived.
I first met Carlos back in 2005, when the Duchess of York (who I was assisting) sent me down to Palm Beach to take a meeting with him and discuss their mutual polo interests. Carlos hired me on the spot as his Business Manager, and two weeks later, I left New York City (after having lived there for 8 years!) for greener pastures in Wellington, Florida.
The two years I spent working with Carlos were among the most fun, eye-opening, challenging, and educational in my entire life. I split my time between Palm Beach and England, meeting royalty, CEOs and billionaires in their most relaxed habitat: on the polo field. I was in my mid-twenties, working on my books Beauty Confidential and Confessions of a Beauty Addict, with my blog exploding. It all felt very magical, and I have the job with Carlos to thank for much of it.
Carlos was one of those people who you either loved or hated. Considering he was the best polo player in the world for many years–a 10-goaler for 15 years, the only polo player to win the Grand Slam of Polo three times, 9 time US Open winner and 10 time British Open Gold Cup winner, and in the Polo Hall of Fame–many people were jealous of his skill and confidence on the field. But those who were lucky enough to know him personally can attest to his cheerful, determined, can-do spirit, his fantastic laugh, his silly sense of humor, and his love for his family. My heart goes out to them.
The Queen often cited Carlos as her favorite polo player, and Carlos regularly played on four-man teams with Prince Charles, Prince William, and Prince Harry. He tutored all of them (as well as King Constantine of Greece, Prince Talal of Jordan, and Sylvester Stallone), and when Prince William introduced him to Kate Middleton he said: “This person is the best polo player ever, he’s a legend and he’s the best and my father thinks the same.”
Here’s hoping you’re galloping on Nony Nony in that great polo field in the sky, Carlos. You were a true legend and will be very missed.