We’ve analyzed 007 in the past, as well as Howard Hughes in light of Scorcese’s The Aviator, but could there be a connection between the two? What if Ian Fleming was encoding an explosive, real-world conspiracy involving Howard Hughes, JFK, Aristotle Onassis and a legendary kidnapping? Not only is there evidence to suggest this, but the film version of his 1954 novel Diamonds Are Forever subtly suggests much more. We know Fleming was a high-level Royal Navy psychological warfare specialist and involved in numerous covert operations, and as I’ve argued many times, Fleming’s novels and the film versions, in their own respective ways, elucidate these clandestine activities, touching on everything from black-market smuggling networks to actual espionage and assassinations.
Fleming’s inspiration for the novel stemmed from meetings and discussions with former MI5 chief Sir Percy Stillitoe, then working for the DeBeers diamond empire. Combined with these tips, as well as information he received from wealthy socialite William Woodward and Los Angeles police intelligence on organized crime and smuggling operations, Fleming composed the fourth Bond novel in 1954 as a literary means of detailing the dark world of precious gem and jewel markets. To add intrigue to this already intriguing tale, Fleming was also approached by Aristotle Onassis for a film version of either Casino Royale or Dr. No, with Onassis desiring to be a part of the funding (Ian Fleming by Andrew Lycett, pgs. 336-7). No stranger to Hollywood, Onassis was also a friend of numerous tinsel-town heavyweights, including the Greek film executive Spyros Skouras.
With these connections, my thesis here, in concert with the fascinating insight of Basil Valentine, is that Diamonds Are Forever the film provides a crucial insight into the coded reference of Willard Whyte as a stand in for Howard Hughes. As I argued in my Scorcese analysis, Hughes was intimately tied to the CIA through Robert Maheu, an intelligence-establishment figure who emerged from the CIA-dominated advertising world. It is possible Maheu was involved in the reported kidnapping escapade of Hughes, which The Gemstone Files allege was orchestrated by Onassis, leading to Hughes being spirited away to the magnate’s lavish island, Skorpios.
On this note, there is an interesting parallel no one else has considered to the 1965 postmodern novel The Magus, by John Fowles. In the story, a young English Oxford lad is (intentionally) led to a fictional Greek island named Phraxos, where a wealthy Greek magnate and former Nazi collaborator arranges elaborate psychological and theatrical operations to “test” Nicholas’ will. Playing with both reality and classical mythology, Conchis (the Greek) eventually breaks Nicholas’ resolve, having completely altered the protagonist’s paradigm of reality. Rather than freely choosing his lascivious dalliances, Nicholas discovers his own story has been organized and directed by troupes of actors and academics at the behest of the elite mastermind. Could this be a coded reference to the Gemstone File? While it is not clear, Onassis is rumored to have maintained contacts with Eva and Juan Peron in Argentina. Billionaires, Greek islets and possibly coded, occult messages? It’s quite a tale – one Fleming may have decided was worth telling. I wrote of The Magus the following:
The book is spiced throughout with references to Tarot cards, Greek deities, Baphomet, gnosticism, ritual initiation, the Eleutherian mysteries, etc. Conchis eventually reveals to Nicholas, when he’s drugged, captured and placed in the judgment role, that the real secret is science. While Nicholas is supposed to “judge” the rest of the Illuminists present under the sign of the Pentagram and Baphomet, he ends up confounded as the group of doctors and PhDs present dissect his entire life with psychoanalysis.
Nicholas is then forced to watch a pornographic film with the girl he loves that has been intertwined with his own time spent on the island, recorded by numerous secret cameras. Here Bentham/Foucault-style Panopticism emerges, as the prisoner is subjected to the all-pervading gaze of the eye of the elite. Nicholas not only cannot escape their influence and power, he is also held captive to the narrative they may construct about himself and his life. In short, he is helpless, though he thinks he is “free” in his atheism and nihilism.
Maurice, then, turns out to be a combination of the trickster/magus, as well as the prince/ruler, with his unlimited wealth. He can hire any actors, recreate any scenes, arrange any events he so desires. No matter where Nicholas goes, or what he does, he cannot escape Maurice’s designs. Every time Nicholas tries to construct a “mask” or excuse or identity for himself, he is reminded of the existential dictum that he is “condemned to be free.” He continues to operate in Sartrean “bad faith” and “inauthenticity” to the end, until he appears to concede that he is helpless.
In regard to Diamonds Are Forever the 1971 film, it is a curious note that Whyte, the Hughes stand-in, is said to have been kidnapped and/or never emerging from his penthouse for years. As it turns out, it is the inimical Bond villain Blofeld, and particularly Ernst Stavro Blofeld, that is behind the diamond smuggling plot as a means of moving in on Whyte’s aerospace operations. If Basil’s thesis is correct, then Stavro could be a composite of Onassis and Niarchos, the brother-in-law of Onassis and a rival shipping magnate. Stavros Niarchos is reported to have been counted as a Bilderberg member, as well as being a close associate of the Rockefeller Foundation for certain. These considerations are admittedly speculative. A worthy addendum also comes to the fore in the history of the fictional SPECTRE organization, where we read of a 007 board game:
In 1983, a highly successful James Bond tabletop RPG was released. With the films as inspirations, the stories were adapted for players. Minor changes to plots and villains were made; for example, Wint and Kidd were freelance assassins working for SPECTRE. They in fact leased out services to other terrorist organisations and various crime syndicates. The most noted changes were to SPECTRE: Blofeld’s name was changed to Karl Ferenc Skorpios, and he was given a greyhound instead of a white cat; the organisation itself was renamed TAROT (Terrestrial Acquisition, Revenge, and Orchestrated Turmoil), with the face cards representing various departments. This was due to the copyright issues referenced above. Victory Games worked with Eon productions (the film producers) for the rights to Bond, and were told they were not allowed to negotiate with McClory for the rights to SPECTRE, hence the hasty renaming.
Deleted scenes show the Hughes reference more clearly:
When we consider Hughes’ close connection to the CIA through operations like Project AZORIAN, which sounds just like a SPECTRE-style operation from a 007 film, we can certainly presume much more was being conveyed here. Even questions relating to the moon mission arise, given the seemingly out-of-place shot of Bond stumbling across a sound stage in Hughes’ facility, where actors in astronaut suits are staging a phony lunar landing. Is Fleming implying that the moon mission itself was a psychological operation? Speculation is welcomed here, but the real message of Diamonds centers around exotic weaponry along directed energy lines. The same theme re-emerges in the 1974 film adaptation of Fleming’s The Man with the Golden Gun, where alchemy and techne combine to reveal the Pentagon’s darkest future tech. Given that Jackie married Aristotle Onassis just five years after JFK was gone, could this signify a mafia-mandated marriage tradition? Perhaps Fleming knew the answer about this and the real SPECTRE.
For more on this, check out my interview with Basil Valentine on 21 Wire in the second half: