Could this be the man behind the famous Christian Grey?
Italian real estate agent Alessandro Proto has been named the inspiration behind the male lead in E L James' steamy erotica trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey, who will be portrayed on the big screen by Jamie Dornan.
Proto, who met the British author in 2010 (a year before the first book was published) when James was touring Italy writing about international celebrities snapping up properties in the country, explains the parallels between his life and the book's character.
"The firm Grey runs in the book is called Grey Enterprise Holding. Mine is called Proto Organization Holding," the 39-year-old businessman told New York Daily News.
"When I met E.L. James I used to drive a R8 Audi," Proto continued (Christian Grey drives an Audi R8 Spyder and also purchases Anastasia Steele an Audi A3 after she agrees to be his submissive).
The former encyclopedia salesman, who may make a cameo in the film, also noted that the top floor location of his office was used in the book. "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 said. "Everyone knows he made it, but nobody knows how he reached success. Same with me."
Also, Proto notes that, like Christian, he's quite shy when it comes to media and giving interviews. "Christian Grey doesn't like speaking to reporters, so he builds up a mystery that surrounds him," he said.
However, Proto did speak to E! News in 2010. The real estate agent, who had coordinated Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's multimillion-dollar villa purchase in Valpolicella, told E! News exclusively that he was helping Matt Damon and Julia Roberts find their dream homes in Italy as well.
Now, the question we've all been asking in our head—does Proto also have a red room of pain and practice S&M?!
"Everything that has to do with S&M is pure imagination, I assure you. I'm an old fashioned man when it comes to sex, I'm not into that kind of fantasies," he said.
But that didn't stop a group of Swiss women even founding a fan club. "When they told me I couldn't believe my ears. I started receiving lots of indecent proposals on my work mail," he added.
"At times it can be pretty annoying. I don't like gossip and showbiz, I'm a businessman, that's what I do for a living and it is my main purpose in life."
Regardless, Proto did grab himself a copy of the novel, but couldn't read more than the first few pages. "I started reading it because I was curious to know what the press was writing about me, but I quit after a few pages," he said. "It's really not my thing. I think it was a well planned marketing operation though. Huge one. But that's it."
Proto was reportedly arrested on Valentine's Day last year on charges of manipulating the financial market. Granted parole, it will be served up on Valentine's Day 2015, the same time time Fifty Shades of Grey hits theaters.