Details of Disappearance
Lourdes and her family immigrated to the United States from Cuba when she was a child. She graduated from the University of Florida at Tampa with a major in international affairs.
She began modeling and performing with local ballet troupes during her college years. She moved to New York City after she completed college and attempted to begin her modeling career in earnest while working as a hostess in restaurants.
Lourdes relocated to Milan, Italy in 1983. She found success as a European runway model during the following years. The fashion industry trends shifted towards younger models in the late 1980s and she experienced difficulty finding employment as a model. She returned to the United States in 1988, the same year her passport expired.
Lourdes met Robert Marx, the son of the late entertainer Zeppo Marx and the stepson of Frank Sinatra, in the early 1990s. She reportedly fell deeply in love with him, but the relationship ended one year later. Her friends stated that she began exploring religion at that time, as well as shopping more than her financial resources allowed.
Lourdes spent the winters at her parents' residence in Florida in the early 1990s and continued to search for print work as a model, but was greeted with little success. A friend said that she refused the offer of a Spanish television commercial around that time, as Lourdes did not to work in Spain. She returned to New York City on a permanent basis in 1993 and was employed as a fit model, a job she reportedly detested.
Lourdes's friends said that she became concerned about her personal life by 1994. She attempted to win over one of Marx's friends, Mohamed Khashoggi, the son of Saudi Arabian oil magnate/weapons dealer Adnan Khashoggi.
Associates stated that Lourdes constantly shopped for outfits to impress Mohamed and reportedly became convinced that another woman was performing rituals designed to win Mohamed over herself. Lourdes reportedly believed that the other woman was using spells from the African-based religion Santeria to ruin Lourdes's chances for a relationship with Mohamed.
Lourdes began rooming with the woman in New York City, but forced her to move out shortly thereafter.
Her associates stated that she became increasingly paranoid by 1998. Many of other friends believed that the end of Lourdes's modeling career served as the catalyst for her depression.
She found a job with The Saxon Group in New York City in 1998 as a modeling scout. It did not provide her with the income she desired for her lifestyle and Lourdes promptly resigned from the position, although she needed the salary to pay her bills.
Lourdes began visiting a woman who practiced Santeria in the city on a regular basis around this time. She was apparently hoping to cast spells on Mohamed and Barneys' department stores' scion Gene Pressman, in an effort to begin a relationship with a wealthy man.
Lourdes was eventually employed at Winston Staffing, a modeling agency in New York City, in the late 1990s. She resided in an apartment in the 400 block of east 83rd Street in the borough of Manhattan in 2000. She allowed her younger brother, Mario Gruart, to stay with her while he was unemployed during the year.
Mario had been arrested for marijuana possession in July 2000 and apparently lived with the support of wealthy benefactors. His roommate died of natural causes in 2000 and Mario requested aid from his sister.
Lourdes's friends are divided on her impressions of her brother; some stated that she adored him, while others claimed that she was wary of Mario's intentions. She had bailed him out financially several times and shortly before her disappearance, she asked him to move out of her home and they argued.
Mario told authorities that Lourdes announced she was traveling to Europe on October 14, 2000. He claimed that she left her residence carrying a large green bag and departed in a waiting car at approximately 8:00 a.m.
Lourdes has never been heard from again. She left all of her personal belongings behind, but her lingerie has never been discovered. Lourdes and Mario's mother said that her daughter never traveled without alerting her to her plans.
Mario moved most of Lourdes's possessions out of sight in her apartment after her disappearance and replaced her belongings with his own items. He claimed that Lourdes said she would be returning to New York City in several weeks, but authorities learned that Lourdes's passport expired in 1988.
Investigators began to doubt Mario's story and searched Lourdes's apartment. Mario admitted that he disposed of her couch shortly after she vanished, but said that he and Lourdes had agreed on the decision and new furniture would be arriving shortly.
Authorities said that the couch has never been replaced and traced the item to a refuse yard in New Jersey. Investigators were never able to locate the item, but they do not believe it contains evidence relating to Lourdes's case.
Authorities viewed Mario as a possible suspect for several months after Lourdes's disappearance, but have since stated they do not believe he was involved in her case. Investigators are unsure if Lourdes vanished of her own accord, committed suicide or was the victim of foul play.
There were rumors circulating around the time Lourdes disappeared that claimed she was involved in prostitution as a means of additional income. Some people speculated that could explain why her lingerie was missing from her residence, as she may have operated from a different location.
The theories have never been confirmed, however. Lourdes's friends' opinions remain divided on her whereabouts and her case remains unsolved.