Hans Lichtenberg was born in Bad Kreuznach in the Rhineland, Germany, one of five children of a criminal police councillor, Ferdinand, and his wife, Barbara.
In 1980, at the age of 36, Lichtenberg was adopted as an adult by Princess Marie-Auguste of Anhalt (1898–1983), whose first husband was Prince Joachim of Prussia, son of German Emperor Wilhelm II. Upon adoption, Lichtenberg's name became "Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt", although "Prinz" is part of the legal surname, and not a princely title. Since 1919, former royal and noble titles in Germany have been able to be registered as part of the legal surnames. Despite this, Anhalt styles himself "Prince Frédéric of Anhalt, Duke of Saxony and Westphalia, Count of Ascania". Some reports state that Anhalt claims to have been a childhood friend of Princess Marie Auguste's only child, Prince Karl Franz of Prussia (1916–1975), and that the grieving mother adopted him out of kindness, naming him "Prince" and "Duke of Saxony". However, British press reports indicate that Princess Marie Auguste was bankrupt and the adoption was a business transaction, allegedly masterminded by Hans Hermann Weyer, a former window dresser who became the honorary consul of Bolivia in Luxembourg. Weyer was known for selling certificates of nobility, doctoral degrees from fictitious universities, and other spurious decorations in Germany in the 1960s. Lichtenberg was one of about 35 adults adopted by the Princess, some then styling themselves Princes of Anhalt.
Despite the adoption by Princess Marie-Auguste, a member of the ducal family of Anhalt (the House of Ascania), the website of the House of Ascania makes no mention of Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt.
In 1984, Anhalt moved to America, becoming a socialite and living a flamboyant lifestyle. On 14 August 1986, he married Hungarian-born American actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, who was 26 years his senior. It was his seventh marriage: he had married and divorced six times before, on one occasion receiving a settlement of $4 million.
It was factually Gabor's ninth marriage, but legally her eighth, as her marriage to Felipe de Alba had been annulled because she was still married to Michael O'Hara at the time. It also became her longest marriage. In concert with Anhalt's new surname, after the marriage Gabor styled herself "Princess von Anhalt and Duchess of Saxony". "We didn't marry for love", Anhalt said. "It was a friendship, but when you're with someone over a certain time you fall in love."
Gabor claimed that, shortly after their marriage, she came close to arranging Anhalt's adoption by an (anonymous) member of the British Royal Family.
Together with Gabor, Anhalt has himself adopted at least ten adult males. "If someone offers you $2 million, you do it," he is reported to have said.
Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt adopted several adults:Michael Prinz von Anhalt (birth name: Michael Killer)
Marcus Prinz von Anhalt (birth name: Marcus Eberhardt), also calls himself "Prince Germany";
Oliver Prinz von Anhalt (1971-2016, birth name: Oliver Bendig)
Markus Maximilian Prinz von Anhalt (birth name: Markus Chapelar)
Fabian Prinz von Anhalt
Ferdinand Prinz von Anhalt (birth name: Markus Wölfert)
In addition to selling his name in marriage, Anhalt has sold as many as 68 "knighthoods" for $50,000 a piece.
On 9 February 2007, Anhalt stated that he had had a decade-long affair with Anna Nicole Smith and could potentially be the father of her infant girl Dannielynn Birkhead. However, later in March, it was determined that Anhalt was not the father of the child, and Smith's former boyfriend Larry Birkhead was the biological father.
On 16 February 2010, Anhalt announced his candidacy for Governor of California, running as an independent candidate against Arnold Schwarzenegger. He withdrew his candidacy on 2 August 2010, citing problems with his wife's health.
Zsa Zsa Gabor's daughter, the late Francesca Hilton, alleged von Anhalt compromised her mother's dignity, security and health for attention and profit. Hilton claimed von Anhalt prohibited Gabor from having visitors, including her own daughter.
Hilton claimed he fostered a circus atmosphere surrounding her mother's health, had plans to have her body preserved with plastic for public display, and claims Gabor wanted to mother a child at the age of 94, which she described as "just weird." Hilton remained worried about her mother's health, home and fortune.
At the time of her death, relations between Hilton and von Anhalt had been sour for nearly a decade. In 2005, he sued Hilton, alleging she had attempted to defraud her mother. However, Gabor refused to sign the papers in her husband's suit against her daughter so the court dismissed it.
On 20 October 2010, Anhalt was taken to a hospital after swallowing a bee, which then stung him in the throat. On 22 December 2010, he was again admitted to a hospital after gluing his eye shut with nail glue. On 2 September 2011, he was hospitalized after being hit by a car in Beverly Hills.
On 25 July 2007, while sitting in his Rolls-Royce in Southern California von Anhalt was allegedly approached by three women whom he later described as attractive. He said they asked him to pose for pictures with them, at which point one of the women robbed him at gunpoint, taking his car keys, jewelry, wallet, driver's license, and all his clothes. According to Anhalt, his assailants bound him and placed him in handcuffs, yet he managed to call the authorities on a cellular phone. Los Angeles police found him completely naked approximately one hour later. No handcuffs were found at the scene. The culprits apparently drove away in a Chrysler convertible.