Alien: Harboring the remains of Li Tobler

leading from
H R Giger

Li I (work 250) (1974) by HR Giger

a) Shape shifting rumours about wife or mistress' skeleton
There were horrible stories being handed around where it was made know that HR Giger kept a skeleton of his late wife or fiancée who had committed suicide. In his past, his girlfriend Li Tobler fell into a state of depression and took her life with a gun.

More than one person had heard the rumours about the skeleton during the Alien production. 
David Giler was told that the skull swinging in Giger's doorway belonged to his deceased wife, Sigourney Weaver and Ron Shusett also heard the rumour about Giger keeping the skeleton of his dead fiancé,

Brian Johnson was able to pin it down to stories to the time when everyone would go to the bar at night to wind down, and Giger was tinkling away at the ivories playing jazz piano, Mia, the girlfriend of Giger, would tell stories about the bones of Giger's wife hanging up in his living room, on the wall and up on the beam in his house. 
When they looked at Giger's drawings, they'd think "Yeah, that's about right".

Meanwhile Alan Dean Foster heard that it was the skeleton of a former mistress hanging from the rafters.

The rumour would also alter to the extent that Roger Christian had heard that three of Giger's wives and mistresses had committed suicide and that Giger had their skulls preserved and mounted on his bedposts

Li II (work 251) 1973/1974 by HR Giger
b) The End of the Rumour
When Dennis Lowe came to film Brian Johnson for the Alien Makers II documentary, Brian told him off-film about what he remembered of the rumour and very soon Dennis Lowe talked to Giger about it in 2009. Giger did seem to be very surprised about the rumour, in fact he declared that he was not mad enough to do such a thing. If Giger didn't know about it in 2009, had he forgotten about the whole thing, or perhaps Mia telling this story at every opportunity as a joke behind Giger's back?

c) Blood and bullet holes
However Bill Malone who had worked with Giger on concepts for film that were never made noticed that while he was walking around HR Giger's cottage when his huge paintings were stacked about four or five feet deep , perhaps even ten against the black painted walls,  and one of them had little holes in it and there was stained with blood

Bill said to him "Giger, someone damaged your painting here"

Calmly Giger's response was "Oh no, that's where my girlfriend blew her brains out." referring to his deceased girlfriend Li.

Bill was able to ask Giger's ex-wife Mia about this and she responded "Yes, it's true, Li shot herself in front of the painting and he decided to leave the evidence on it there as part of the painting."  "

Li Tobler
Source Quotes
  1. Ron Shusett There was always these horrible stories, we heard he kept the skeleton from his fiancée which had committed suicide. (Alien Quadrilogy documentary  1:08:12 approx)
  2. David Giler: We walk into Giger's house which is floor to ceiling with all of Giger's drawings and you know, candles everywhere and what I'm told is the skull of his deceased wife swinging at the doorway.  (as reported from the Alien Evolution documentary interview, 2001)
  3. Interviewer: tell us a little bit about your perception of Giger
    Sigourney Weaver: Well I met Giger when we were making the movie and he…his work is, you know, extremely powerful and bizarre and…but he himself is a delight, you know, he’s very funny, very charming, very mischievous. And, he always wore black, his girlfriend always wore black. And I had dinner with him a couple of times and they were so much fun. That’s what I would remember. And then you would hear these stories about how he has his wife’s skull or some sort of, kind of, you know morbid stuff in his house. And I think he has, you know, he has one persona as an artist and his persona as an artist is obviously not something I got to have dinner with. I just had dinner with a great, very charming, mischevious guy. (report from interview for Alien Evolution documentary, 2001)
  4. Brian Johnson: We used to go in the bar at night and everybody'd wind down. And Giger'd sit there and play jazz piano. And, er, and we'd hear all these stories from his girlfriend... ..about the bones of his wife hanging up in his living room, and er on the wall, up on the beam and everything,  We'd look at his drawings and think "Yeah, that's about right." you know (Alien Legacy Documentary,1999)
  5. Alan Dean Foster: Alien is the only movie in which the most important contributor of the film was not the director, actors or writers, but the set designer - H.R. Giger. He's a very interesting man, who has the skeleton of a former mistress suspended from the rafters of his Switzerland home, which may help explain some of the bizarre images in his art. Why would anyone do such a thing? Well, because Giger's a Salvador Dali-type character: completely off-the-wall and audacious. (Starlog 81, April 1984, p52) 
  6. Roger Christian: A lot of legends and apocryphal stories emerged about Giger - no doubt due to the morbid nature of his work and the fact he always wore black. One story I heard was that three of his wives and mistresses had committed suicide and he'd had their skulls preserved and mounted on his bedposts.  (Rue Morgue #149, 2014 p24) 
  7. Dennis Lowe: Brian Johnson told me that you have your bones from your first wife
    Giger: What my...?
    Dennis Lowe: The bones from your first wife
    Giger: No
    Dennis Lowe: No?
    Giger: No no!
    Dennis Lowe: Not anymore?
    Giger: Ah, you mean Li! no.
    Dennis Lowe: Was it Li?
    Giger :No. no-, no no
    Dennis Lowe:  So it's a myth
    Giger: Yus,
    Dennis Lowe: It is not true
    Giger: No-no, no, Shit. I'm not mad you know
    Dennis Lowe: No, no I know that
    (Giger laughs)
    Dennis Lowe: No, no,  because I have to ask that because it's good to have this recorded
    Giger: No, that's no true
    Dennis Lowe: Yes, yes.
    Giger: It's Shit (giggle)
    Dennis Lowe: No no
    Giger: Yah, they are tell, they are telling that, oh my god
    Dennis Lowe:  You know, so, it's, it, the thing is, what I'm trying to do you see  with this film is is to get,  you know there's nothing but people talking
    Giger: yuh yuh
    Dennis Lowe: It's to get the truth
    Giger: At least, I can tell you that's not true (giggle)
    Dennis Lowe:  'cause that's the idea of somebody's film trying to get the truth and not the myths. (outtake from Dennis Lowe's Alien Makers 3 documentary interview with HR Giger, 2009)
  8. William Malone (film maker): His flat was painted all black. All of the walls and his paintings were stacked about four or five feet deep against the wall. They're huge paintings. And one of them, as I was walking around, had little holes in it. I said, "Giger, someone damaged your painting here." He said, "No, that's where my girlfriend blew her brains out." Turned out to be true and he left the bullet holes with the blood on the painting as part of the art. (from Masters of Horror Explore the Art Hidden in the Nightmare By:stacilayne, Updated: 02-20-2010
  9. William Malone (film maker): Interestingly, all the walls in Giger's home were painted black and nearly all his artwork was stored there. He told me he would never sell anything but, occasionally, would give things away, canvases were stacked all around the house - five, six, maybe ten deep - and these paintings were huge! He also had statues of the Alien there and some weird furniture. One day I was walking around and I noticed that one of his paintings had several holes in it and was stained. I said "Giger, somebody had damaged your painting." He calmly said. "Oh no, that is where my girlfriend blew her brains out." I asked his ex-wife, Mia, about this and she said , "Yes, it's true, Li [Tobler] shot herself in front of the painting and he decided to leave the evidence on it there as part of the painting." (Rue Morgue #149, p25, 2014) 


  1. Which painting did Li do that in front of? Does anybody know?

  2. Which painting did Li shoot herself in front of? Does anybody know?

  3. Li I which is now at the top of the page

  4. It would have been helpful of me to have posted it there much earlier instead of simply number II, but now I've done it

  5. There's an article here which suggests that there was a knife hole rather than a bullet hole in the painting and that it was called "I am Li". I assume it was the same one. It's not as if we have seen photos of the painting with the damage to really have that much certainty but I am not sure where the information about the knife damage originated from.