Who Is Brigitte Nielsen's Husband? All About Mattia Dessi

Brigitte Nielsen married her husband Mattia Dessi in 2006

Brigitte Nielsen (L) and Mattia Dessi attend the 2018 Pre-Emmy Party hosted by Entertainment Weekly and L'Oreal Paris at Sunset Tower on September 15, 2018 in Los Angeles, California
Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty

Fans saw the beginning of Brigitte Nielsen and Mattia Dessi's relationship play out on reality TV.

The couple met in Switzerland in 2004 and moved in together at the end of VH1's reality show Strange Love, which originally focused on Nielsen's relationship with rapper Flavor Flav. Nielsen and Dessi's relationship flourished, and it wasn't long before the couple tied the knot in a stunning ceremony in Malta. They welcomed their first child together and Nielsen's fifth, a daughter named Frida Dessi, in June 2018.

While Nielsen had previously been married four times, she's said that her marriage to Dessi makes her happier than ever. "I have that real old-fashioned feel to my family that I always wanted, the kind my mom and dad had," she told PEOPLE in 2018.

Nielsen also credits Dessi with helping her overcome her struggles with alcohol. "I'm literally a different person, and that has a lot to do with my husband, because my husband doesn't smoke, doesn't drink," she said. "When I met him I was like rock and roll, and he said, 'I adore you, but I cannot live with that.' I've had some strange men in my life. But I finally found the real deal."

So, who is Brigitte Nielsen's husband? Here's everything to know about Mattia Dessi.

He is from Italy

Brigitte Nielsen and her husband Mattia Dessi walk on the beach on July 29, 2005 in Cervia, Italy
Arnaldo Magnani/Getty

Dessi is from Sardinia, Italy, and he previously worked as a model. He has since moved to Los Angeles, where he lives with Nielsen and their daughter.

He met Nielsen in Switzerland in 2004

The couple met in Switzerland, at a hotel where Dessi was a waiter. Nielsen wasn't looking for love at the time, as she wasn't officially divorced from her fourth husband, Raoul Meyer. However, Fate had other plans. "Mattia walked in, and I literally fell off my chair," Nielsen recalled to PEOPLE of their first meeting.

He appeared on the reality TV show Strange Love with Nielsen

The VH1 reality series Strange Love aired in early 2005 as a spin-off of The Surreal Life, in which Nielsen and Flavor Flav became romantically involved. Strange Love followed Nielsen's often contentious relationship with Flavor Flav as well as her budding relationship with Dessi. The series ended with the Red Sonja star splitting from Flavor Flav and choosing to pursue a relationship with Dessi.

He and Nielsen had two wedding ceremonies

On Feb. 21, 2005, Nielsen and Dessi had a wedding ceremony in the Dominican Republic. However, the nuptials were not legal, as Nielsen was still in the process of divorcing Meyer.

Nielsen's longtime friend, Luigi Balduini, later told PEOPLE that their ceremony "was more like an official engagement." He added, "They put it on the news that it was a marriage, but it was an engagement because she was still legally married."

The couple legally tied the knot on July 8, 2006, in a ceremony at the Radisson Golden Sands Resort & Spa in Malta.

He is Nielsen's fifth husband

Brigitte Nielsen and husband Mattia attend the 12th Annual Prism Awards held at the Beverly Hills Hotel on April 24, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California
Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage

Prior to tying the knot with Dessi, Nielsen had been married four times.

From 1983 to 1984, Nielsen was married to Danish musician Kasper Winding, with whom she shares a son, Julian Winding. She was later married to actor Sylvester Stallone from 1985 to 1987. Then, she was in a relationship with New York Jets player Mark Gastineau from 1988 to 1990; though they never married, they welcomed a son named Killian Marcus Gastineau.

From 1990 to 1992, she was married to photographer Sebastian Copeland. And from 1993 to 2005, Nielsen was married to Swiss actor Raoul Meyer; the former couple share sons Douglas Aaron and Raoul Meyer Jr.

He and Nielsen have a 15-year age gap

Mattia Dessi and his wife Brigitte Nielsen attend the Massimo Gargia Summer Party at Les Moulins de Ramatuelle on August 18, 2011 in Saint Tropez, France
Foc Kan/WireImage

In a 2011 interview with The Guardian, Nielsen opened up about her marriage to Dessi — and their significant age gap. "My current husband, Mattia Dessi, is 15 years younger than me and I'm really happy now," she told the outlet. "He's probably more mature than me mentally, but physically we're not the same and I do wonder if he will love me when I am 60 and he is 45."

While the age gap doesn't phase the couple anymore, Nielsen has said that it was difficult in the beginning due to the public scrutiny she received.

"Everybody was laughing in a bad way at us, because he was 25 and I was almost 40, so I was a joke. It's always the woman that has to pay for the jokes," she recalled to The Guardian in a 2019 interview. Despite this, she credits Dessi as her main source of happiness.

He and Nielsen have one child together

Brigitte Nielsen and Mattia Dessi
Brigitte Nielsen Instagram

Nielsen announced in May 2018 that she was expecting her fifth child after undergoing in vitro fertilization treatment for 10 years. The actress debuted her baby bump in an Instagram photo with the caption, "family getting larger."

The following month, Nielsen celebrated her husband and the soon-to-be new father on Father's Day, sharing a selfie of the couple on Instagram, captioned, "You'll be a great papà ❤️ Ti amo 💋."

On June 22, 2018, Nielsen and Dessi welcomed a daughter named Frida Dessi. In a statement, the couple told PEOPLE: "We are overjoyed to welcome our beautiful daughter into our lives. It's been a long road, and so worth it. We've never been more in love."

Over the years, the proud mom has shared plenty of adorable mother-daughter moments and photos of their family of three on Instagram. In June 2020, Nielsen posted a photo from her daughter's Minnie Mouse-themed second birthday party. The shot showed Frida posing between her smiling parents in front of a pink, mouse-eared cake. "My little mouse ❤," Nielsen captioned the post. "Happy second birthday, you've brightened my life since the day you born."

He has Flavor Flav's stamp of approval

Although Nielsen ultimately chose Dessi over the "Fight The Power" rapper, there are no hard feelings amongst the three of them, and Flavor Flav wants the best for the couple.

Shortly after Nielsen announced her pregnancy, Flavor Flav shared how happy he was for his ex with PEOPLE. "All I want to see is her happy and everything she wants in life. All she wants in life is a happy life and good family life," he said.

He added of Dessi, "He's a great guy, I love that guy."

"The way I want the best for her is the way I want the best for everybody, not just [Nielsen]. I can't wait to see her and Mattia again," he continued.

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