Who Is Atila Altaunbay, Once Husband of Grace Jones?

By: Sam Watanuki | Published: Dec 22, 2023

In the heart of Belgium, a chance encounter brought together Atila Altaunbay, a Turkish Muslim student, and iconic singer Grace Jones. Their meeting was nothing short of serendipitous, marking the start of a romance that would captivate public attention.

Despite their different backgrounds and careers, the attraction was immediate and undeniable, setting the stage for a unique and captivating love story.

A Proposal Defying Norms

In a move that broke away from conventional norms, it was Grace Jones who proposed to Atila Altaunbay. This bold gesture by Jones, known for her defiance of traditional expectations, underscored the unconventional nature of their relationship.


Source: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

In her memoir, “I’ll Never Write My Memoirs,” Jones wrote that she liked Altaunbay’s grounded nature. “He really didn’t know me as a famous person,” Jones wrote, “and he was certainly not interested in me as a raging party monster. … He didn’t care about fame.”

They Had a Significant Age Difference

The age difference between Jones and Altaunbay became a focal point of the media. Jones, being twice the age of Altaunbay, faced public scrutiny and speculation.

Grace Jones

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Altaunbay was 21 years old while Jones was 42. This aspect of their relationship raised questions and curiosity, showcasing how they navigated the complexities of a relationship under the public eye.

Altaunbay's Vocal Talent

Atila Altaunbay was more than just the partner of Grace Jones; he was a talented vocalist in his own right. His performances, particularly at weddings, were noted for their emotional depth and beauty.

Wedding dance and singer

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This artistic side of Altaunbay complemented the couple’s shared passion for music and performance.

Grace Jones' Allure

Grace Jones has always been an intriguing public figure, artist, and musician, with a life shrouded in mystery and allure. Her relationship with Altaunbay added another layer to this intrigue.

Grace Jones

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As a fiercely independent and strong-willed individual, Jones’ persona played a significant role in the dynamics of their partnership.

Cultural Challenges in Love

The couple married in 1996. The union of Jones and Altaunbay was not without its cultural challenges. Altaunbay, coming from a Turkish Muslim background, faced familial resistance due to his decision to marry out of traditional expectations.

Grace Jones and her husband, Atila Altaunbay

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Altaunbay’s decision to marry Jones was also met with resistance from his family, stemming from cultural norms related to marriage and birth order.


Jones' Untraditional Ceremony

The New York Times reported on the wedding’s more unique aspects, like Jones’ interesting choice of outfit: “The bride wore a white lace bustier and tight white pants.”

Bride And Groom Standing While Holding Flower Bouquet

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There was also a unique post-wedding activity, according to the Times: “After they were pronounced husband and wife, the newlyweds went to a gym to work out.” It was reported they would honeymoon in New York.


A Brazilian Wedding

The couple’s February 1996 wedding in Rio de Janeiro was a blend of intimacy and splendor. It was held in a private residence and officiated by Rubens Pires, a Presbyterian minister.

Clouds and Hills around Rio de Janeiro

Source: Abraham Challco

The wedding, attended by just 50 guests, was both unconventional and deeply personal. At the time, The New York Times reported Altaunbay was Jones’ “21-year-old former bodyguard.”


Renewed Commitment in Syracuse

Following the revelation that their initial marriage ceremony was not legally binding, Jones and Altaunbay held a recommitment ceremony in Syracuse.

Wedding Cake

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Officiated by Jones’ father, this event was a heartfelt affirmation of their love and commitment, reinforcing their bond amid challenges.


Turbulence in Paradise

The relationship between Jones and Altaunbay was not without its struggles. Over time, Altaunbay displayed behaviors that strained their bond, including episodes of being overly territorial, according to Jones’ book.

Grace Jones

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These turbulent moments served as a reminder that even the most committed relationships are not immune to challenges. Still, Altaunbay was the only person Jones ever married, as written in her book “I’ll Never Write My Memoirs”: “The truth is, I only ever married one of my boyfriends, Atila Altaunbay, a Muslim from Turkey.”


Grace Jones' Legacy and Family

Beyond her relationships, Grace Jones’ legacy includes her prolific career and her son, Paulo Goude, whom she had with Jean-Paul Goude.

Grace Jones

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Goude, a talented musician, songwriter, and producer, represents a significant part of Jones’ life and legacy, illustrating her influence extending beyond her personal relationships into her professional and family life.


The Enigmatic Altaunbay Post-Separation

Following his separation from Jones in 2004, Atila Altaunbay’s life became a mystery. Little is known about his post-separation endeavors, leaving a blank canvas on which the public can only speculate.

Grace Jones

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This enigmatic figure remains an intriguing part of Jones’ past, leaving the public to ponder about the man she once loved.