In what is being described as the biggest public funeral since former German chancellor Willy Brandt died in 1992, millions of Germans watched yesterday as a flamboyant Munich designer, strangled by a male prostitute, was laid to rest as his pet Yorkshire terrier looked on.
Four national TV networks devoted live air time to the funeral procession and interment of Rudolph Moshammer, whose sensational murder climaxed the high-profile life of the bewigged and bejeweled man who has been described as "the only genuine eccentric in Germany."
Traffic along Munich's showcase Maximilian Strasse came to a halt as the funeral procession paused in front of Moshammer's boutique before heading for a celebrity cemetery where the designer was to be entombed next to his mother -- and next to an earlier pet, Yorkie.
In a way, it seems only fitting that the funeral of "Mosi" (the nickname Munich residents affectionately called him) has become a national media event.
He and his Yorkshire terrier, Daisy, were fixtures at every glittering social event -- the Bayreuth Opera Festival, the Vienna Opera Ball or Munich's Oktoberfest beer party.
Jose Carreras, who had once bought some neckties from Moshammer's fashionable Maximilian Strasse boutique, would perform at the Munich Opera House -- only to be upstaged by Mosi and Daisy, alighting from a horse-drawn coach.
Mosi and Daisy appeared in McDonald's commercials. They were on billboards for rental car agencies. Advertisements claimed they never left home without a certain major credit card.
A frequent talk-show host, Mosi also made guest appearances in TV series and even on the German version of Big Brother.
Everywhere that Moshammer went, he was instantly recognizable with his raven-black hairpiece bizarrely coiffed into a style reminiscent of the 19th-century Bavarian "Mad King" Ludwig II.
A champion of male facial makeup, Moshammer brazenly ladled blusher and bronzer onto his round face and rimmed his eyes in thick mascara. His arched brows and a broad black moustache gave the appearance of having been painted on.
His penchant for silks and brocades meant he was decked out head-to-toe in flamboyant, self-designed outfits which often echoed costumes of the 18th century -- the period into which he said he had always wished to have been born.
He would arrive in a gleaming Rolls-Royce driven by his faithful uniformed chauffeur, who also doubled as the butler at Mosh-ammer's million-dollar home in the upscale Gruenwald suburb.
And always at his side, usually in a satin-lined Yves Saint Laurent basket or cradled in his bejeweled hand, was his ever-present pet Yorkshire terrier Daisy, a white bow tying fur up and out of her eyes.
He even auditioned on national TV two years ago to become Germany's entry in the Eurovision Song Contest -- as a singing duo with Daisy in his arms. They were not chosen, but their picture was on the front pages of every tabloid in Germany the next morning.
So it was only fitting that his strangulation murder at the hands of a 25-year-old immigrant Iraqi toyboy whom he had picked up at the Munich railway station would dominate the news in Germany for days.
The suspect, linked to the crime scene by genetic fingerprinting evidence, has admitted wrapping a phone cord around Moshammer's neck and strangling him to death after the designer refused to pay US$2,000 for a sexual tryst at Moshammer's suburban Munich mansion.
In the days since Daisy was found whining beside the prone body of her dead master, lurid details of the 64-year-old designer's sex-for-hire habits have filled the tabloids. Even close friends had been unaware of his penchant for young Persian and Arab men.
But Germans have also read of his fairy-tale, rags-to-riches story. His alcoholic father had succumbed to cirrhosis, leaving Mosi and his mother Else penniless in a wretched cold-water flat.
That trauma created a strong bond between mother and son, and Moshammer not only lived with her the rest of her life, he made her his inseparable companion at Munich social events until her death in 1993.
He subsequently wrote a book about their life together, unabashedly titled: Mama und Ich (Mama and I). He penned a number of books and they were nearly always bestsellers in Germany, among them the "intimate diary" of his dog Daisy three years ago.
Desperate to extricate themselves from poverty, Mosi and Mama ingratiated themselves with a young millionaire, Walter Kaessmeyer.
"The Moshammers had an ambitious dream," Kaessmeyer recalls. "They wanted to open an exclusive boutique and become rich and famous. I thought they had the chutzpah to pull it off, so I gave them the start-up money they required with no strings attached."
Kaessmeyer bankrolled the Moshammers' boutique on the fashionable Maximilian Strasse, never asking for a return on his investment because, as he puts it, "I figured the fashion world is so volatile that I'd never see any of that money again anyway."
It was in the late 1960s that Mosi began creating the outrageous image that would make him a celebrity. Though unable to sew a stitch himself, he began designing gentlemen's evening apparel aimed at Munich's nouveau riche film and TV personalities.
His style, derided by some fashion critics as "Alpine Pimp" consisted of expensive fabrics and furs in often garish color combinations. The most outrageous designs were donned by Moshammer himself, making him a walking advertisement at soirees and cocktail parties among the Munich glitterati.
He would strut to work in some over-the-top outfit with a pet cheetah on a rhinestone-studded leash and -- presto -- he was on the front page of every newspaper in Germany the next morning.
His Carnaval de Venise boutique quickly established itself as an outfitter to well-heeled Europeans and celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, tenor Jose Carreras, illusionists Siegfried and Roy and actor Richard Chamberlain.
As long as he lived, Mosh-ammer would never be absent from the tabloid front pages again. And he would never forget his origins.
Under the terms of his will, which were made public on Friday, Moshammer leaves the bulk of his estate to his one-time benefactor Kaessmeyer, now 76.
Moshammer's will stipulates that proceeds from the sale of his boutique, his limousines and other possessions go toward charities for the homeless -- so that no one ever need die on the streets as his father had.
And it stipulates that his beloved Daisy be cared for the rest of her natural life by his faithful butler and chauffeur, who also receives a large condominium apartment and a pension for life.