Swedish singer Agnetha Faltskog had a successful musical career, but it came with a heavy price. Apart from dealing with obsessive fans, she experienced stalking from her former lover.
After the pop group ABBA disbanded, Agnetha Faltskog lived in constant worry, fearing for her life and her children’s lives. A man named Gert van der Graf, a Dutch forklift operator who started as her adoring fan, became her lover.
Things turned out for the worst when she broke things off with him, and he transformed into her stalker. Van der Graf told the Daily Mail in April 2000 that he fell in love with Faltskog since he was a child.
He explained that since then, he had always dreamed of being her lover forever. However, soon after, his affection for her turned into an obsession:
“I fell in love with Agnetha when I was a child and saw her singing ‘Waterloo.’ Since that day, it was my dream to be with her forever.”
Since that confession, the songwriter lived her life looking over her shoulder, could not sleep, and had to remain indoors at night.
Van der Graf had moved into a dilapidated cabin only a short distance from her home in rural Sweden. He decorated his home from floor to ceiling with photos of Faltskog and began roaming around her house. He continued to explain:
“I eventually met Agnetha in town, and she was surprised about how much I knew about her life.”
Soon, the pair started spending more time together, and he revealed they became lovers and were deeply in love. She disclosed details about their interaction and said the attention she received from van der Graf became intense, adding after a while, she could not resist anymore.
“I wanted to know him,” she said. Still, the musician figured something was peculiar about van der Graf and broke up with him twice over two years.
However, things took a twisted turn when van der Graf started bombarding her with more than 300 letters between 1997 and 1999, including thousands of phone calls, police said at the time.
Although she tried to cut all contact with him, he persisted and continued writing and even followed her wherever she went. Faltskog started feeling as though he might become violent.
She then filed a restraining order against van der Graf after showing a judge a letter she wrote to him, pleading with him to leave her alone. The letter read:
“Gert, I want to be left alone. There’s no hope for us together. I don’t want any more letters. Nothing else!”
Regardless of that, the actress said he continued to stalk her and told the police in a statement: “He’s described our relationship as being like Romeo and Juliet, but it is more like Jekyll and Hyde. He has never beaten me, but he admits he can’t control his emotions.”
She continued to explain that the tone in the letters he wrote started to sound more threatening, saying she was forced to take medication to sleep at night and lived in fear.
Meanwhile, van der Graf said he was sorry that she was afraid of him, claiming he was not dangerous. He added that if he were arrested, he would still love her, nonetheless.
The then-34-year-old eventually got arrested two days later that same year. Van der Graf was sixteen years Faltskog’s junior and had terrorized the star for three years.
Being a Netherlands native, he was eventually deported from Sweden but returned several times. He reappeared with threats in 2004 and was again apprehended in April 2006, just yards away from her house.
Faltskog, as a teenage sensation, drove a lot of men crazy, especially when she dressed up in a pink jumpsuit with a large heart-shaped cut-out on the abdomen.
Even one Swedish reporter once unpleasantly remarked her “sexy little tummy.” Another claimed his temperature had been average before he knocked on her door and described her attire of “peachy skin” and “hair like frozen waterfalls.”
In an interview with the Daily Mail in May 2013, Faltkskog revealed she recalled the ABBA days with mixed emotions because she was overwhelmed with being a global star. She explained:
“Fans would become hysterical – banging on car doors. But very, very nice as well.”
Even though the affection they received was warm, she explained it became problematic because when they arrived in cars, there were little children there, and the team was worried that they would run over them or hurt them.
The attention they received from fans was so intense that they could not leave their hotels at some point. “It was frightening, but we had so many people taking care of us, and everyone wanted to show us the best of their country wherever we went,” she said.
Since the band abandoned a half-finished album in 1982, Faltskog made headlines for all the wrong reasons with one catastrophe after another.
In 1983, she was involved in a road traffic accident when she was thrown out of the window of a bus on a solo tour. Thankfully, she got off unharmed.
The mom of two shared that she was afraid of flying and still is, but going to therapy helped deal with her fear. Now she can fly three-and-a-half hours but no longer than that.
She described herself as down to earth as opposed to how the media portrayed her, saying she is a reclusive woman who is mysterious. Faltskog revealed she resides in a farmhouse and lives a normal life.
Additionally, the “Dancing Queen” singer experienced tragic losses in her life, having lost both her parents. Her mother Birgit, a former shop cashier, committed suicide by falling to death from the sixth-floor flat in Jonkoping where Faltskog was raised. She was 71 years old.
Then her father Ingvar, 73, once an administrator, passed away a year later. Speaking on their passing, Faltskog said it was painful because she wanted them to live long enough to know their grandchildren.
She revealed she became depressed after that, isolated herself, stayed home most of the time, mediated, and listened to soothing music, which ultimately helped her heal.
Notably, Faltskog has been married twice and divorced twice. She was first married to her fellow ABBA band member Bjorn Ulvaeus for nine years, from 1971 to 1979.
They walked down the aisle only three years before the music group had its big break at The Eurovision Song Contest. The former couple share two kids together, daughter, Linda, 48, and son Peter, 43.
The band also consisted of another couple, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, and apparently, fame put pressure on both the couple’s relationships which effectively affected the group.
With that said, it is believed the band’s break-up was caused by the divorces from both ends, leading to both ladies pursuing solo careers.
However, since Faltskog’s comeback, she revealed she is somewhat reserved when performing live and prefers recording in the studio instead.
She did admit that it was hard for her to continue without the band. As for the two gentlemen, Andersson and Ulvaeus remained close and opted to write for musicals, including Chess.