French Academic Found Dead, Naked, in NYC Hotel Room

The director of the one of the world's top universities, the Institute of Political Studies in Paris (known popularly and in your French oral examens as Sciences Po), Richard Descoings, was found dead in a New York hotel room Tuesday afternoon. Police have opened an investigation into his death, because the circumstances surrounding it bear more than a passing resemblance to the opening scene of the Da Vinci code, which is to say, they are suspicious.

Here are the details available so far, via The New York Daily News:
• Descoings, 53, was discovered nude on his bed around 1 p.m. yesterday afternoon.

• The room around him was in disarray, though there was no indication of forced entry.

• The body displayed no obvious signs of trauma.

• Detectives found his cell phone on a third-floor landing, as if "it had been flung out a window." (Descoings' room was on the seventh floor.)

• Though Descoings checked in alone, there was evidence that there may have been others in the room with him at some point. There was also evidence of alcohol consumption.

• Most Da Vinci-esque of all: the hotel he was staying in was The Michelangelo.

Descoings was in town for a Tuesday morning conference at Columbia University. When he failed to show up at around 9 a.m., colleagues requested that hotel staff check on him in his room. Staff reported that it sounded, from the hallway, as if Descoings was snoring.

Later that afternoon, staff returned to the room and discovered his body.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy said, in a statement lamenting his death:

"Richard Descoings contributed more than anyone of his generation to furthering the prestige of France's higher education system."

He sounds like a pretty good guy, too. In 2001, he introduced a special Sciences Po admissions channel dedicated to recruiting students from low-income, largely immigrant suburbs.

According to a biography on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development website, Descoings' very French interests included "opera (18th and 19th century), wine and French cuisine."

[Image via Getty]