François-Marie Banier is a French novelist, playwright, artist, actor and photographer. He is particularly known for his photographs of celebrities and other public figures and for his friendships with members of high society.
Banier was born in Paris, France. He grew up in a middle-class family in the 16th arrondissement of Paris but became estranged from his parents as a teenager. In an interview with Paris Match, he said that he had been “completely incomprehensible to parents”. He also said that his father had beat him, and his mother had an unerring ability to avoid answering questions.
Despite his modest background, from an early age he was a precocious and hyperactive talent, who was able to develop friendships with some of Paris’ wealthiest arts patrons and artists. At the age of 16, he met Salvador Dalí, who would send his car to bring Mr Banier to his suite at the Hotel Meurice to discuss art.At the age of 19, he befriended the wealthy heiress and patron of the arts Marie-Laure de Noailles who was then 64.
François-Marie Banier published his first novel, Les Résidences secondaires ou la Vie distraite, at the age of 22. Around the same time, a well-known Parisian designer and antique dealer Madeleine Castaing helped him launch a career in photography by purchasing a dozen of his photographs for 70,000 francs.
Over the years, Mr Banier befriended many well-known public figures and celebrities, including Pablo Picasso, Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Françoise Sagan, Samuel Beckett, Vladimir Horowitz, Louis Aragon, François Mitterrand, Kate Moss, Mick Jagger and Princess Caroline of Monaco. He is also a good friend of Johnny Depp and his wife Vanessa Paradis, who met at his home in the south of France. Mr Banier is godfather of their daughter, Lily-Rose.
In the 1970s, Mr Banier shared a studio with designer Jacques Grange on rue Servandoni near Luxembourg Gardens. Over the years, he acquired his own studio on rue Servandoni and gradually combined it with adjacent apartments until he was able to open a second entrance on rue de Vaugirard. He now shares these quarters with actor Pascal Greggory and his nephew Martin d’Orgeval. Mr Banier also owns a home in Sommières, France.