You might have seen our list of the real-life super spies who inspired James Bond. If not, check it out. You’ll be armed with some seriously cool bar trivia. Some of the men in this list are real-life inspirations for Bond villains. Others are just men who appear to have walked right out of the pages of one of Ian Fleming’s novels.
1. Erno Goldfinger: We’ll start out with a real-life Bond Villain. The problem here, though, is that Erno Goldfinger is the opposite of a villain. In fact, he threatened to sue over being the namesake of the gold-obsessed Bond foil. Erno, an architect, unfortunately pissed off Ian Fleming by designing tower blocks that replaced more traditional fare in London.
2. Charles W. Engelhard, Jr.: While Erno Goldfinger provided the name and perhaps some of the physicality of one of the most iconic Bond villains ever, Charles W. Engelhard, Jr. provided a bit more of his panache. He was an American minerals and mining mogul (say that three times fast) who by all accounts, loved gold. While Erno Goldfinger was offended and annoyed at being the namesake for one of Fleming’s baddies, the Coca-Cola-addicted Engelhard bragged about it regularly.
3. Bohdan Stashynsky: While a later entry on our list gave The Man With the Golden Gun his name, Bohdan Stashynsky was the Man With the Golden Gun. He assassinated two Ukrainian nationalists by using poison inside a sausage tin. When he defected to the West, CIA agents found his tales too bizarre to believe. He later went on trial for murder where he tried to get convicted, as prison was considered safer.
4. Aleister Crowley: Even if the self-proclaimed “Wickedest Man in the World” wasn't actually the inspiration for Le Chiffre, he’d probably belong on this list as one of the “might as well be an inspiration.” The noted drug-addicted occultist openly performed rituals many would deem satanic. He became personally acquainted with Fleming while the writer worked in British intelligence during the war. Fleming wanted Crowley to supply Rudolph Hess with fake astrological readings.
5-6. Peter Scaramanga and John Blofeld: Two for one: When Ian Fleming heard his nephew talking about two bullies at his posh public school (a British Orwellian meaning “private school”), he decided to exact a bit of petty revenge by naming two of his most iconic villains after them. Peter Scaramanga became the namesake for the supernumerary nippled Francisco "Pistols" Scaramanga, while John Blofeld became the white cat stroker Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
7. Vladimir Putin: If he were heading up a shadowy terrorism-for-profit organization rather than the Russian state, Vladimir Putin would be the very picture of a Bond Villain. He’s a former KGB agent who is a master of judo and horseback riding. His critics allege involvement in a number of assassinations and assassination attempts on enemies. And just look at the guy.
8. Nikolay Lukashenko: He’s only 11 years old, but Nikolay Lukashenko is allegedly being groomed to follow in his father Alexander’s footsteps as the last dictator in Europe. In addition to being a future dictator, Lukashenko also has a golden pistol that was gifted to him by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. And you were happy with a Sega Genesis.
9. Carlos the Jackal: Even the name sounds Bondian. Carlos the Jackal (real name Ilyich Ramírez Sánchez) is a Venezuelan terrorist of a communist currently rotting in a French prison, where he has languished since 1995. He received his training from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Early attempts at terror were bungled bombings, but a 1975 raid on OPEC headquarters in Vienna had Carlos making his mark on the world, quickly making him one of the world’s most wanted men. At his eventual trial in 1997, he claimed to have never killed for profit, but rather the cause of Palestine.
10. Paul Calder Le Roux: Glamorous he’s not, but Paul Calder Le Roux has been called a real-life Bond villain by The Guardian newspaper for heading up a multimillion-dollar cocaine and weapons dealing empire. Galavanting around the world in a 40-foot yacht, he has somehow avoided having anything but the grainiest pictures on earth taken of him. Little to nothing is known of his life before being an international man of mystery.
11. Peter Thiel: Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal and multi-zillionaire Donald Trump backer, might be more of a Bond villain prequel than an actual Bond villain. The main supporting evidence here is his reputed plans to avoid United States laws by building intentional communities in international waters. Basically, he wants to live in a country that’s Dr. Evil’s fortress. Not bad if you can afford it.
12. Kim Jong-Un: Some believe that Kim Jong-Un’s plan isn’t to nuke the United States at all. Rather, it’s that he seeks to knock out the United States’ power grid with a nuclear weapon exploded in low orbit. If true, that might just be the most Bond villain attack of all time.