Ari Behn Biography


Birthday: September 30, 1972 (Libra)

Born In: Aarhus, Denmark

Ari Behn was a Norwegian author, painter, and playwright. He was born in Aarhus, Denmark. He and his family moved from place to place, eventually settling in South Norway. After graduating from the University of Oslo in the 1990s, Ari published his first collection of short stories, Sad as Hell, in 1999 and gained fame as an author. Over the years, he wrote several novels, plays, and short-story collections, such as From Heart to Heart, The Training Hour, Tiger in the Garden, and Inferno. He was also part of a few TV shows and films and had established the artists’ group The New Wine. In his later years, he turned into a neo-expressionist painter and participated in many international exhibitions. In December 2017, he stirred controversy by revealing that Kevin Spacey had groped his genitals at a Nobel Peace Prize after-party in 2007. Ari was married to Princess Märtha Louise and had three daughters with her. The couple eventually divorced. Ari died by suicide, after a prolonged struggle with mental health issues, in 2019.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Ari Mikael Behn, Bjørshol

Died At Age: 47


Spouse/Ex-: Princess Märtha Louise of Norway (m. 2002–2017)

father: Olav Bjørshol

mother: Marianne Rafaela Solberg

children: Emma Tallulah Behn, Leah Isadora Behn, Maud Angelica Behn

Born Country: Denmark

Norwegian Men Libra Writers

Died on: December 25, 2019

place of death: Lommedalen, Norway

City: Aarhus, Denmark

Cause of Death: Suicide

Notable Alumni: University Of Oslo

More Facts

education: University of Oslo

Childhood & Early Life

Ari Behn was born Ari Mikael Bjørshol, on September 30, 1972 in Aarhus (or Århus), Denmark, to Norwegian parents Olav Bjørshol and Marianne Rafaela Solberg Behn.

Ari grew up with two siblings, his younger sister, Anja Sabrina, and his younger brother, Espen.

Both his parents were teachers and got married in 1973, after Ari’s birth. The family initially lived in Aarhus and then moved to Plymouth, England. In England, Ari’s father trained and worked as a photographer.

The family then moved to Tennevoll in Northern Norway. Ari’s mother worked there as a school teacher, from 1977 to 1978. In 1978, the family moved to Moss in South Norway.

The following year, Ari joined the Waldorf School in Moss. In the 1990s, Ari joined the University of Oslo and subsequently received a BA degree in history and religion.

In 1996, Ari changed his name from “Ari Mikael Bjørshol” to “Ari Behn,” attaching his maternal grandmother's maiden name, “Behn,” (of German origin) to his name.

Ari’s parents divorced in 1983 and later got married to other partners. Interestingly, Olav and Marianne’s respective new partners, Tone Bjerke and Jan Pahle, had previously been married to each other. Tone was the daughter of renowned poet André Bjerke.

In the 2000s, however, Ari’s parents divorced their new spouses. Olav and Marianne got remarried to each other in 2007.

In 2009, the media stated that Behn's paternal grandfather, well-known lawyer Bjarne Nikolai Bjørshol, was actually not his biological grandfather.

Ari's father, Olav, then met his biological father, Terje Erling Ingebrigtsen, a car mechanic, for the first time. However, Terje died before he could meet his grandson, Ari.

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Career as a Writer

In 1999, Ari Behn gained fame in Norway with Trist som faen (Sad as Hell), his first anthology of short stories. Over 100,000 copies of the book were sold.

In 2002, he published Fra hjerte til hjerte (From Heart to Heart), written in collaboration with his wife, Märtha. It was a book that revolved around their wedding.

He also wrote Bakgård (Backyard) in 2003, a roman à clef titled Entusiasme og raseri (Enthusiasm and Rage) in 2006, and Vivian Seving etc. in 2009.

Two more collection of short stories, Talent for lykke (Talent for Happiness) and Tiger i Hagen (Tiger in the Garden), were published in 2011 and 2015, respectively. In 2018, he released Inferno, a novel with his paintings. The book spoke about his life after his divorce and his battle with mental health.

He also wrote for various magazines and newspapers as a freelance writer. He also wrote the play Treningstimen (The Training Hour), which was staged in 2011 and received a standing ovation on its debut night.

Ari had reportedly finished a script for a children's book, written along with his eldest daughter, Maud, just before his death. It is yet to be published.

Other Pursuits

Ari was one of the founding members of the artists’ group Den Nye Vinen (The New Wine), established in 1993. Apart from Ari, the group had artists such as Henning Braathen, Bertrand Bisigye, and Per Heimly.

He designed a china set named "Peacock" for Magnor Glassverk. Ari also modeled for an apparel brand.

Ari created various TV documentaries, such as the 2002 critical documentary Øst for krigen – invitert av Taliban, which revolved around the Afghanistan War.

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Ari was also seen in the comedy films Team Antonsen and Long Flat Balls in 2004 and 2006, respectively.

In 2011, Ari appeared as a co-host of the award-winning NRK TV series Ari og Per, along with his friend, photographer Per Heimly. The duo appeared together again on the TV show Ari and Per Solve World Problems, aired on TVNorge in 2013. Ari also appeared in the 2015 series Håp i ei Gryte.

From 2013, till his death in 2019, Ari rediscovered himself as a neo-expressionist painter. His paintings were inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat. In 2018, his paintings fetched him 5.7 million NOK.

Ari held painting exhibitions all over the world. One such work was the Gabba Gallery's exhibit Borderless: Scandinavia, showcased in Los Angeles in 2018.

Ari had teamed up with Scandinavian painters Mikael Persbrandt and Espen Eiborg and collaborated on paintings that have been showcased in more than 60 international art galleries since 2017.


Ari received several national honors, such as the Medal of the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of King Olav V, the Royal House Centenary Medal, and the King Harald V Silver Jubilee Medal.

He also received the Grand Honorary Cross with Star of the Order of the Crown from the Netherlands and the 70th Birthday Medal of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.


In December 2017, Ari made a shocking revelation on the Norwegian radio station P4, stating that actor Kevin Spacey had groped Ari’s genitals at a Nobel Peace Prize after-party at a nightclub in 2007. However, he mentioned the incident as a joke and said he had not felt offended by it.

Personal Life

On May 24, 2002, Ari married Princess Märtha Louise, the eldest child and only daughter of King Harald V of Norway.

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Back then, Märtha claimed to be a clairvoyant and had her own alternative therapy center, Astarte Education/Soulspring. It offered courses in communication with angels and the dead.

At the time of the marriage, Märtha was second in the line of succession to the throne of Norway, just after her younger brother (according to Norway’s rules of royal succession).

She relinquished her annual allowance worth $1 million and her official membership of the royal family, as she had married a citizen.

Ari, too, remained a private citizen after his marriage and did not get any royal privileges or titles. Since 1814, Norway has no concept of nobility and or commoners, and apart from the members of the royal family, all others are only citizens.

The couple had three children: their daughters Maud Angelica Behn (born on April 29, 2003), Leah Isadora Behn (born on April 8, 2005), and Emma Tallulah Behn (born on September 29, 2008).

The family initially lived in Islington, north London, New York, and then moved to the Lommedalen valley near Oslo.

On August 5, 2016, Ari Behn and Märtha declared they had split. Their divorce was finalized in 2017, following which they shared the custody of their daughters.

Ari later dated a lawyer named Ebba Rysst Heilman, while Märtha was in the news for her relationship with a shaman.


On December 25, 2019, Ari Behn was found dead at his home in Lommedalen, Norway. His family later said in a statement that Ari had committed suicide. He was 47 at the time of his death.

Ari Behn�had struggled with mental health issues and alcoholism for a long time. In 2009, he revealed in an interview that he had been chronically depressed.

On January 3, 2020, Ari’s funeral was held at the Oslo Cathedral. He now lies buried at the Cemetery of Our Saviour.

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