Did E.L. James write her dark, tall, handsome and rich Christian Grey in "Fifty Shades of Grey" based on real-life businessman Alessandro Proto? The Italian real estate agent certainly thinks so. In an interview with New York Daily News, he explains some similarities between him and James' fictional billionaire.
Proto and James reportedly met in 2010 when she was touring Italy to write about international celebrities snapping up properties in the country. It was a year before her BDSM drama romance, which was initially posted online as a "Twilight" fan fiction, got published in a book version.
The 39-year-old businessman said he spent two days travelling with the British author from Milan to Lake Como. "The firm Grey runs in the book is called Grey Enterprise Holding. Mine is called Proto Organization Holding," he pointed out. "When I met E.L. James I used to drive a R8 Audi."
Even the top floor location of Christian Grey's office in the book, Proto says, was inspired by his own office. "My office is located at the 8th floor. It is the highest in the building. I came from nothing, so I see top floors as a metaphor for achievement and success," he explains.
Proto also says he, like Grey, prefers to stay away from the spotlight. "Christian Grey doesn't like speaking to reporters, so he builds up a mystery that surrounds him," he claims. "Everyone knows he made it, but nobody knows how he reached success. Same with me."
Proto is rumored to make a cameo in the upcoming film adaptation directed by Sam Taylor-Wood, but no official announcement has been made. The movie which is still in production stars Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele. It's due February 13, 2015.