Nastasia Urbano lived a glamorous New York life in her 20s. A life many people would envy.
Every night saw her dining in lavish style with a different Hollywood legend, while weekends were spent partying with the who’s who of the New York scene.
The Spanish model was a 1980’s “it” girl by every definition.
But now, at 57, she’s homeless – living on the harsh streets of Barcelona, sleeping in bank foyers and begging for money.
So how did Natasia fall so far?
Her modelling career kicked off in Barcelona at age 20, where she was soon picked up by industry scouts and relocated to New York, where she signed to the famed Ford Modelling Agency.
At the height of her career, she graced the cover of European Vogueeditions at the height of her career, worked for Revlon, was the face of Yves Saint Lauren’s iconic Opium perfume, and appeared in the iconic ad directed by David Lynch in 1992.
She was reportedly “paid a million dollars a year for 20 days work”.
Recalling the glory days, Natasia said she was “loved by everybody”, and lived a life most people could only dream of.
“I did all the magazines, I was loved by everybody. I was given a million dollars a year for only 20 days of work, for three or four years,” she told Spanish publication el Periodico in a new interview.
“I was having dinner one day with Jack Nicholson, the following day with Andy Warhol or even Roman Polanski. I was in parties with Melanie Griffith, Don Johnson, and Simon and Garfunkel.
“I was about to go to Madonna’s wedding to Sean Penn because [US actor] David Keith was invited and I was dating him at that time, but that day we got up with a hangover and couldn’t get up. I had everything, I was living like a queen.”
But the lifestyle was stripped away from her by her ex-husband and the father of her children.
As the main breadwinner in the marriage, she says when the relationship broke down, he “left her with nothing but the clothes on her back”.
“The only good thing from that relationship has been my children, the rest was horrible,” she tells the publication.
Love clouded her judgement, she says.
“He paid for everything with my money,” she recalls.
“Only two days after knowing him, he wanted me to buy a BMW and I, like a fool, I signed a cheque. I was in love…”
Nastasia, who suffers from depression, says she was unable to pay her own rent when he walked out, and as a result was evicted from a series of homes.
Now, she alternates between couch-surfing at friends’ houses and sleeping in bank foyers.
“I want to live, not just survive. I am tired of surviving and asking for money. The people around me have gone away, everybody goes away and I am not surprised.
“I want my children to see me well. I want to recover as a person and to be OK, so they can be proud of me.”
Nastasia’s devastating story has led to her former fashion industry colleagues rallying to help, recalling how promising her career once was.
“It has left me in shock. Nobody expected this. We were at princess level, but she, she was at goddess level,” former fellow model Ruth Schuler said.
“I remember her as an introverted person, very beautiful and very generous with others. We are gathering more people. The first thing is to talk to her, know how she is and what she needs.”
Another former model, Hernando Herrera, believed Natasia still has plenty to offer, suggesting she could find work in the fashion industry with a little help from the community.
“She has lot of things to give to the fashion world,” she said.
“She could do a lot of things, not only model, but also conferences, fashion speeches and other activities.
“I am ready to teach her and talk with photographers and agencies so that she can work again.”
Natasia’s friend Daniel Mirabal Gallego-Díaz has even set up a GoFundMe page for donations towards “basic necessities” including a few nights’ rent and food.
The page, translated from Spanish, reads:
“If maybe you belong to the world of fashion, or if you have ever been touched by some of your advertising campaigns, if you ever realised that most beautiful dreams sometimes turn into a nightmare, if you ever felt helpless even surrounded by many people, please help Nastasia.
“As little as it is, for her nowadays it is a lot… Nastasia is still the same sweet, nice, generous and noble woman that when she was 20 years old. Only now the flight has been broken. We could show the world that you should not always sacrifice a bird of paradise when you have broken wings. We can cure them and help them raise the flight again. Do you believe in second chances?”
Nastasia herself has written on the page:
“I would like to live with dignity, I am exhausted to go on surviving. From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much to all of you who are helping me.”