Richard Descoings, a well-known French academic, has been found dead in a New York hotel room on Tuesday afternoon, Reuters reports.53-year-old Descoings, director of the prestigious Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (aka “Sciences Po”) and a member of France’s Council of State, had been due to attend a Columbia University conference but never appeared. Staff at midtown’s Michelangelo Hotel were alerted by members of the conference, and went to the room twice, first leaving after believing they heard snoring.
The second time, however, they opened the door and reportedly discovered a scene in disarray.
The New York Daily News reports that Descoings was nude on the bed, and his phone was found outside the room, as if it had been “it had been tossed out the window”, a police source told the paper.
There was no sign of forced entry in the room and a number of prescription drugs were found, though there was no indication they play a role in the death, the paper reports.
Police appear to have initially looked into the death as being suspicious, though later on Tuesday, Paul Browne, chief spokesman for the New York Police Department, said the disarray in the room was probably caused by emergency services.
Regardless, in the wake of Dominique Strauss Kahn’s scandal last summer in the Sofitel Hotel in Midtown New York, a second incident involving a prominent French figure is surprising — DSK was also once a professor at Science Po, which Descoings had headed for 16 years.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and President of Columbia University Lee C. Bollinger said they were “deeply saddened” by the death in a joint statement, while French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that Descoings was a “great servant of the state”, Le Parisian reports.
Students and staff held a silent tribute to Descoings outside Science Po Wednesday morning, France 24 reports.
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