Mark Fleischman’s widow on what it was like to see him die by legal suicide

When Mark Fleischman drank the sodium pentothal, that would do kill him on Wednesdayhe stared at Mimi, his wife of 27 years.

“We looked at each other like, ‘This is kind of crazy.’ My feeling was, ‘Wow. I can’t believe that that happens, ‘”she told the post. “I had a hand on Mark’s knee. The sodium pentothal is bitter. So they recommended having chocolate and a sweet drink afterwards. He ate and drank it. Then, a minute later, he looked around and said, ‘I don’t feel anything.’ I think it was a throwback to his drug-taking days. He fell asleep three or four minutes later.”

Mimi Fleischman was with her husband Mark when he ended his life in Switzerland.
Mimi Fleischman was with her husband Mark when he ended his life in Switzerland.
Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan

As reported by The Post last month, 82-year-old Fleischman – the former owner of Studio 54 – decided to do it end his life by assisted suicide at the Swiss headquarters of Dignitas. Located near Zurich in a ranch-style house, the non-profit organization legally provides cardiac medications to people suffering from terminal or serious illnesses.

Fleischman, who paid $15,000 for his death, was confined to a wheelchair and plagued with a debilitating illness that could not be diagnosed or treated.

Mark first drank a formula to coat his stomach before consuming the sodium pentathol that triggered fatal cardiac arrest.
Mark first drank a formula to coat his stomach before consuming the sodium pentothal that induced fatal cardiac arrest.
Provided by Mimi Fleischmann

“There was always the option that he would change his mind; but in reality it was the opposite,” said Mimi. “But when we got on the plane to Zurich, he was adamant. He made a decision and he wanted to do it, even when friends read about Mark and asked him not to do it. But Mark wanted to die on his own terms.”

Then, as July 13, the anniversary of his death, approaches, the hotelier, restaurateur, and nightclub owner reconsiders his beliefs about his eternal future.

Mark spent his last days in a luxury hotel in Zurich feeding the ducks.
Mark spent his last days in a luxury hotel in Zurich feeding the ducks.
Provided by Mimi Fleischmann

“Mark didn’t believe in God at all. He was an absolute atheist,” said Mimi. “He has started to believe in God in the last few weeks. I believe in God… Mark came to believe that there is life after death. He changed his belief system about the continuation of existence.

“I asked him if he would come visit me. An old friend thinks Mark has already visited him. Mark and I talked about how I would continue to see him and feel him in my life.”

On Sunday, Mark and Mimi boarded a Swiss Air flight and settled into business class like any other couple on a holiday trip to Switzerland.

“We had a little fun,” she said. “We enjoyed eating and drinking and watching movies. I think Mark saw one with Johnny Depp.

“It didn’t feel like we were going to the end of the world, which we literally were.”

A day after arrival, after an overnight stay near the airport, they checked into a suite at the luxurious Romantik Seehotel Sonne, with large windows overlooking Lake Zurich. There were considerations of exploring the city, but Mark’s poor health and the difficulty of getting around in a wheelchair kept the Fleischmans on the hotel grounds.

“Mark loved feeding the ducks,” Mimi said. “We got bread from dinner – we ate bass, steak tartare, cucumber soup, amazing desserts with ice cream – and he fed them. It was bittersweet. Mark and I have had so much fun in our lives. We had a bit of fun in Zurich, but it was hard too. »

Mimi Fleischman exclusively told The Post what it was like to see her husband - former Studio 54 owner Mark Fleischman - commit legally-assisted suicide at a clinic in Switzerland.
Mimi Fleischman exclusively told The Post what it was like to see her husband – former Studio 54 owner Mark Fleischman – commit legally-assisted suicide at a clinic in Switzerland.
Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan
His life ended in a similar room as above, in the Dignitas headquarters.
His life ended in a similar room as above, in the Dignitas headquarters.
Shutterstock

On Monday evening, a doctor from Dignitas came to her suite.

“He wanted to make sure Mark could swallow,” said Mimi. “Furthermore, he seemed concerned that this was Mark’s decision and that he was not influenced. The doctor wanted to know who makes decisions, who’s boss in our relationship. Mark said, ‘Mimi finds out.’ I replied: “Under your direction. You tell me what to do and I do it.”

In fact, it was Mimi who found Dignitas for him after Mark told her he was determined to take charge of his own destiny. “I came up with this idea,” she said, “as an alternative to his suicide at home.”

Fleischman, who lived in Marina Del Ray, told the Post in June that the idea had been floating around for at least two years.

“I can’t walk, my speech is impaired and I can’t do anything for myself,” he said. “My wife helps me into bed and I can’t get dressed or put my shoes on. I take a gentle way out. That’s the easiest way out for me.

Mark and Mimi were married for 27 years.
Mark and Mimi were married for 27 years.
George Leonard.

“I slowly made the decision,” he added. “Two years ago I decided that it is not worth living. I took a lot of Xanax and ended up in the hospital.”

The ER doctors brought him back from the brink of death, but soon after, “I was reading a book about ending life. I read there that the easiest way is to choke. But I didn’t want the pain. I wanted to buy a gun. But my wife intervened. We started looking for a place where it would be legal to find someone to do it with.”

On the morning of July 13, Mark ate a hearty breakfast of croissants, soft-boiled eggs, bacon and ham and leaned on the suite’s couch. Although Mark had previously told Mimi that he thought a lot about his days as a student at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Management — “Those were good times,” Mimi said, “when Mark was young and had his whole life ahead of him.” – He was mostly calm.

He took ownership of Studio 54 when founders Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager were jailed for tax evasion.
He took ownership of Studio 54 when founders Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager were jailed for tax evasion.
Sygma via Getty Images

“There wasn’t much talking,” said Mimi, who managed to get only 15 minutes of sleep the night before, finally falling asleep at 6am and being woken up by Mark at 6:15am.

“I said, ‘I can’t even imagine how you feel.’ I would have liked to say: ‘How do you feel and what is going through your head?’ But I gave him that cue. He didn’t seem to want to talk about it. And I didn’t want to push him. We said some sweet things to each other. We said how much we love each other. He said he was grateful that they had taken care of him so well. That gave me a good feeling.”

Around 9 a.m., Mark and Mimi rolled over to the Dignitas facility, about an hour outside of Zurich. Mark wore Ray bans and a hat that showed him as a navy veteran.

“They offered us drinks and there were chocolates,” Mimi recalls. “Mark had a few slices and an espresso. There was no restlessness. He was ready.”

By 10:30 a.m. he had signed a few final documents and handed in a copy of his birth certificate. A nurse asked him if he was willing to drink a formula that would coat his stomach from the sodium pentothal, which would paralyze his muscles and cause cardiac arrest.

Fleischman partied hard during his Studio 54 days, hanging out with celebrities like Raquel Welch (above, with Rubell and Fleischman, far right).
Fleischman partied hard during his Studio 54 days, hanging out with celebrities like Raquel Welch (above, with Rubell and Fleischman, far right).
Getty Images

“Yes,” he said, deciding to stay in his wheelchair. “I’m ready to drink this.”

“After that, there’s a 30-minute wait until you’ve drunk the sodium pentothal,” Mimi said. “He could have lay down, but sitting at the table seemed fine. We were left alone and talked about how I would continue to see Mark and feel him in my life. I remember there was a clock on the table. It was 10:55 am. Mark said to get the nurse. He was ready. I told him it’s less than half an hour. But I went and got her.

“They asked Mark if he was ready and he said ‘yes’,” Mimi continued. “Then they gave him the potion.”

He fell asleep moments later, then left this life and moved on to what he believed to be next. Mimi stayed by his side.

“I stayed an hour to be with him,” she said. “I had all the mixed feelings. It was lucky for him that he could make it and that I could support him. I touched Markus. I realized I’m not going to touch him again. Those were the finishing touches.”

He also wrote a book about his wild days,
He also wrote a book about his wild days, Inside Studio 54.
Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan

Mimi ended up going to a hotel near the airport, expecting to fly home a day later. In the afternoon, however, she began to feel ill. She tested positive for COVID on Wednesday night and is still camping out at the hotel recovering with the expectation of flying home to Los Angeles when she is healthier.

Her husband’s body is cremated in Switzerland and delivered to her in California.

Recalling her final moments with Mark, she said: “I wasn’t crying. I was overwhelmed and relieved that he is free.”

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