Tag Archives: parties

Thursday, June 16

Lamer than lame

Zagat’s lamest list

 

I am a big fan of Zagat. I fill out their surveys religiously every year and always look forward to receiving their guides.

 

Zagat's logo

Yesterday, though, I read a piece by Kelly Dobkin on their site that frankly was, in my view, totally ridiculous.

 

In her piece “The 10 Lamest Things You Can Order in a Restaurant” Dobkin displays extreme snobbishness towards customers who order:

 

  1. Iceberg wedge salads
  2. Shrimp cocktails
  3. Bottled water
  4. Plates of fruit
  5. Mixed greens
  6. Cereal
  7. Scrambled eggs
  8. Steamed vegetables
  9. Olives
  10. Baked potatoes

 

Why not allow a diner a shrimp cocktail if they so wish? Just because some self-appointed expert views them to be naff, why shouldn’t those of us who like the dish continue to enjoy it in fine establishments like Scott’s in Mayfair?

 

Scrambled eggs also come in for attack by Dobkin who states “Even a broke-ass one-handed wino is capable of creating this dish in less than five minutes.” So what? Oak smoked salmon with scrambled eggs and chives features on the menu of none less than The Ritz Hotel. It’s a dish I often seek out.

 

How anyone could have an argument with mixed greens and steamed vegetables also escapes me. What does Dobkin propose we eat instead? Birdseye frozen carrots?

 

With regard to “cereal at a diner” I can’t say it is something I’ve even witnessed. Where on earth does this woman dine? Mind you, I don’t watch Seinfeld so I suppose I learnt something here but why even bother to mention it?

 

A prawn cocktail

A prawn cocktail

Other readers plainly don’t take too kindly to Dobkin’s patronising ways. “Insulting people for what they like to eat is LAME” says one, adding “Worst top ten list ever.” Another simply sates “Think a little harder next time.” I have to agree.

 

Thank you for reminding me of one of my favourites though Kelly Dobkin. I’m off for a prawn cocktail at La Brasserie for lunch.

 

Read the original piece at http://www.zagat.com/buzz/the-10-lamest-things-you-can-order-in-a-restaurant?zagatbuzzid=june11week3&utm_source=buzz&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=buzz20110615

 

For a fantastic prawn cocktail try:

–       La Brasserie, 272 Brompton Road, London, SW3 – http://www.labrasserielondon.com (Avocado Crevettes, £8.90)

–       Sophie’s Steakhouse, 311-313 Fulham Road, SW10 - http://www.sophiessteakhouse.co.uk (Traditional prawn cocktail, £8.25)

–       Scott’s, 20 Mount Street, W1 – http://www.scotts-restaurant.com (Shellfish cocktail, £17.25)

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Monday, August 15

Jog off

A phrase that should be consigned to history

 

Now “hijacked by chavs,” the phrase “jog on” first became prominent in The Football Factory film about football hooliganism.

 

This awful insult got wider use in recent days after a mother from Salford used it in response to someone who criticised her defence of rioters looting stores in a BBC interview. This oik-ish woman and her Kappa clad son are unfortunately not alone in their use of this dreadful way of telling someone to “f*** off.”

 

The dwarf who "jogs on"

On a trailer for another BBC show this morning I heard a dwarf use utter it when describing how he responds when people look at him. It appears that there aren’t many places that this choice phrase of the underclass is not now used. In this vein, that Sally Bercow, the speaker’s wife, uses it when replying to negative tweets about her husband is not at all surprising.

 

“Jog on” even gets abbreviated sometimes to “JTFO,” which according to urbandictionary.com “adds an element of gusto and offence, for those times when the simplicity of the original phrase just don’t relay your feelings as fully and emphatically as they could.”

 

Those using the insult are even given notes actions to accompany it on one site: “The phrase mentioned must be preceded by raising the fore finger and middle finger to create a ‘V’ sign to the recipient. This should be followed by a movement to the side with a clenched fist and thumb extended in the direction of the movement.”

 

A woman teaches a child some "jogging on" actions

On Facebook there is even a group named “The ‘Jog On’ Appreciation Society.” Fortunately it only has 15 members and thankfully their aim to “get the phrase into the Oxford English” doesn’t seem to have garnered much support.

 

I very much hope this phrase “jogs off” into oblivion. Sadly, though, I suspect it’ll still be jogging around for some time yet.

 

“Jog on” as used in the Football Factory – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPxZeiTGXIY

 

Simon Pegg “jogs on” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoXfiSU_wqE&NR=1

 

An American in Cornwall “jogs on” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrfGa_n5H2k&feature=related

 

A horrible middle class brat named Maddie “jogs on” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7PTDfOq4Q0&feature=related

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Thursday, October 13

Hurricane Heather

Heather Mills puts her Sussex home up for rent

Has Heather Mills, the daughter of a convicted fraudster, spent her entire £24.3 million divorce settlement? We all knew that this lady with an interesting past was a spendaholic but the fact that she’s put her 8 bedroomed country home up for rent for £7,995 per month could be an indication that the former wife of Sir Paul McCartney is suffering like the rest of us during this economic slump.

 

Heather's crib

Mills’ arts and crafts residence in Brightling Road, Robertsbridge, Sussex dates to 1914 and stands in 15 acres of wooded grounds. Bought with part of her divorce settlement, the house includes 6 reception rooms and 6 bathrooms and a childrens’ play area that the former glamour model plainly created for her daughter Beatrice.  The kitchen is designed for the cooking of the vomit inducing “plant based raw diet” meals favoured by Newcastle born Mills and features a Rangemaster oven, Maytag fridge freezer and a wine cooler. A cloakroom is appropriately described as featuring a “Crapper’s WC” and the master suite includes an “en-suite” shower room with a “rain sky waterfall shower” large enough for the ego of a woman best known for hurling a jug of water over Fiona, now Baroness Shackleton.

 

A shower for a woman with an ego the size of Sussex

Mills’ lack of business acumen since her divorce has been clearly illustrated several times over. First there was the disaster of the Vbites café she opened in Hove Lagoon in 2009. Diners were not impressed and described the food as “of such poor quality” and “tasting like worms.” Equally the investment of this proven compulsive liar, who was previously engaged to my neighbour Raffaele Mincione, in Redwood Foods hasn’t exactly paid off either.

A kitchen capable of the preparation of the most ghastly meals

 

Brand Heather has never rung true in my mind and yet again her attempt to rent out her home is only indication of another hurricane she must be fronting.

 

If you do fancy living like Heather Mills, contact Savills of Tunbridge Wells on +44 (0) 1892 314 453. Website: http://www.savills.com

 

If you can stomach reading her bile, go to Heather Mills’ official site at http://www.heathermills.org

 

For more on Vbites see http://www.vbites.com

 

If you really wish to follow Heather Mills you can find her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/heatherofficial

 

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Tuesday, December 6

Keep flying

The suicide of Andrew Embiricos

 

I was saddened this morning to read the news that my friend Andrew Embiricos (1985 – 2011) had committed suicide.

 

Andrew Embiricos (1985 - 2011)

Andrew, the grandson of Rita Heyworth, was witty and positive and planning a trip to London in the coming weeks. That he decided to end his life is puzzling to say the least and it is just dreadful to think that no one saw the signs that he felt compelled to take this way out.

 

Passionate about flying and aircraft, Andrew’s Facebook page always provided witty updates about his globetrotting ways and the posts there often detailed amusing street signs and mocking remarks about “scallies” and ASBOs. His humour was dry and his manner always amusing and this indeed makes his passing all the more tragic.

 

Rest in peace Andrew: you were one of a kind and now you’re in the first class lounge in the skies watching over us.

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Tuesday, March 6

Valting Vodka

A review of Valt Single Malt Scottish Vodka

 

When thinking of places where vodka is made, Poland and Russia are probably the first places that come to mind.

 

Valt Single Malt Scottish Vodka

Valt Single Malt Scottish Vodka, however, is unique in being the only single malt vodka from Scotland and Ricky Christie, it’s founder, claims to be on a mission to “change your perspective.”

 

Christie describes his vodka, which currently sells around 3,000 cases a year, as having a “barley sugar and cream nose, [a] sweet vanilla ice cream taste [and a] warm melting butter finish.” I personally found it very distinctive and much more punchy than the standard “colourless, odourless and tasteless” description that is applied to most vodkas. Valt is not a vodka for a traditional Stoli fan but more one for someone willing to be a little more adventurous in what they consume.

 

Ricky Christie with a bottle of Valt Single Malt Scottish Vodka and his reflux column copper pot still

The spirit is made with water from the famous salmon fishing river, the 107-mile long Spey, and Scottish malted barley. Using a traditional copper still, Valt is a vodka that undergoes a charcoal and chill filtration and one that is quintuple distilled. The result is a pure and mellow taste.

 

Christie first launched Valt in the UK but it is now also available in Germany, Italy, Austria, Spain, Malta, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Poland. It can also be found in Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore and Jakarta but the brand has yet to conquer the biggest and toughest spirits market, the United States of America.

 

Nonetheless, Valt’s progress since launch in 2006 is somewhat impressive and case sales of some 10,000 a year are now within reach. Rabbie Burns would be proud.

 

For more information about Valt Single Malt Scottish Vodka, go to: http://www.valtvodka.com

 

Follow Valt Single Malt Scottish Vodka on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/valtvodka

 

To purchase Valt Single Malt Scottish Vodka for £24.95 a bottle, go to Master of Malt: http://www.masterofmalt.com/vodka/valt-single-malt-vodka/?agegate=true&gclid=CKu2nZTiz64CFcImtAod9XXhlw

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday, March 13

The horse has already bolted

My thoughts on the arrest of Charlie and Rebekah Brooks

 

Whilst growing up, at home, when my family spoke of “hacking” we were talking about taking the horses out into the countryside. Now, sadly, this term has become more associated with Rupert Murdoch, News Corp and a bunch of bleating celebrities than with a leisurely pleasure ride.

Author and horse trainer Charlie Brooks and his wife Rebekah pictured at Royal Ascot

 

When the former chief executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks, whom I’d argue has wrongly been made the sole “she-devil” of this seamlessly growing scandal, was arrested along with her husband this morning, I have to say I immediately thought how convenient the timing must have been for many in the public eye.

 

Today marks the start of The Cheltenham Festival 2012, an event that undoubtedly the horse trainer Charlie Brooks and his wife would have been attending. That their home in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire happened to be raided on this particular morning, to me, seems like nothing other than an attempt to prevent further “horsegate” references and a bid to save further embarrassment for David Cameron and the Metropolitan Police.

A photoshopped picture of The Right Honourable David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, on a horse

Recent revelations that Scotland Yard had lent an ex-police horse, Raisa, to Mrs Brooks were not helpful to the Prime Minister, who had to concede he’d ridden the animal in the company of Mr Brooks, an old friend from their Eton schooldays. Puns a plenty followed and they were something that Cameron did not want to on “furlong.”

 

As such, the inevitable photographs that would have appeared this week of Mr & Mrs Brooks in their tweeds with racehorses would have just brought further salaciously horsey headlines and further embarrassment. I do indeed suspect this is the real reason for the arrest of the couple between 5am and 7am this morning.

 

The Brooks’s may be guilty. They may be innocent. Either way, the timing of their arrests just stinks on the part of Operation Weeting. Though I’ll not gain many plaudits for suggesting this, I say shame on the Metropolitan Police.

 

For more on The Cheltenham Festival, go to: http://www.cheltenham-festival.co.uk

 

For a profile on Mr & Mrs Charlie Brooks by The Daily Telegraph, go to: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/phone-hacking/9140263/Profile-Rebekah-and-Charlie-Brooks.html

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Friday, March 16

K&C’s £50 grifter

The nuisance conman who pounds the streets of Kensington & Chelsea

 

When an old man approaches you in the street complaining he’s lost his wallet or can’t afford a bed for the night, no decent person would disbelieve him or begrudge him a few pennies.

 

On the streets of Knightsbridge, Kensington and Chelsea, however, in the last year I’ve regularly encountered an old man who is plainly seizing on such pity and abusing it. This chap makes the grifters of the BBC’s Hustle seem like amateurs and he’s probably raking in upwards of £300 a day.

 

The £50 grifter: He may look like The Right Honourable Dr Vince Cable MP but he ain’t quite so well intentioned

The individual I mention is probably about 65 years old and his favourite haunts seem to be Walton Street, Beauchamp Place, Sloane Street, Cadogan Place and Draycott Avenue. He is certainly a beggar who opts to limit himself to the finest streets and it is certainly apparent why he does such.

 

The cast of the BBC’s superb Hustle: Robert Gleinster, Matt Di Angelo, Adrian Lester, Kelly Adams and Robert Vaughn

 

The first time I encountered him I was with a friend. The man concerned approached us with a story of how he’d been pick-pocketed and requested £50 for a train ticket to somewhere up north. My friend opened her wallet and handed him the cash and he went on his merry way leaving her thinking she’d done a good deed.

 

The next time I was stopped, the same man told me a tale of how he couldn’t afford a bed for the night. “Could you give me £50?” he enquired. I pointed out that we’d met before and he flat denied it. In astonishment, I mumbled some excuse about not having any cash and turned to leave but then his vitriol began to flow: “F**k you, you f**king piece of Eurotrash,” he screamed. I got away as quickly as I could.

 

Days later I was in Beauchamp Place and he managed to block my path. Plainly, for all of his audacity, he doesn’t or cannot remember who he spins his yarns to and this time my friends and I were given a story about his wife having suddenly died and his being unable to afford a train ticket to Gloucester. “Give me £50, will you,” he politely requested. Yet again, I explained that we’d met before. Yet again, he denied such and realising he wasn’t getting a cent, the swearing commenced.

All other encounters have been similarly peppered with tales of woe and always end with a request for £50. His success is obvious as the man wouldn’t continue haunting our streets if his strategy didn’t result in people paying up. Many locals have also told me of their conversations with this man and some tell me that they too parted with their cash. Finally, though, I managed to get a snap of the con artist the other day and I publish it here as a warning to my readers.

 

Don’t get me wrong: I entirely support helping those in need and there are indeed several poor old people who I assist locally when I run into them but confidence tricksters such as this really should be stopped from conning tourists and locals.

 

If you spot this man, report him to the Metropolitan Police’s Chelsea police station at 2 Lucan Place, London, SW3 3PB on 0300 123 1212 or go to: http://content.met.police.uk/Borough/Kensington

 

Watch clips of the BBC’s Hustle at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007gf9k

 

 

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Friday, March 23

No thank goodnesses for Goodman

The conviction of billionaire John Goodman

 

I have followed the trial of John Goodman with great interest in recent days and today’s verdict was not surprising given his lack of recollection of the tragedy that he caused.

 

John Goodman with his lawyers: Mark Shaprio, Guy Fronstin and Roy Black


 

On the 12th February 2010, Goodman, who sold his family business, Goodman Manufacturing, for $1.43 billion in 2004, crashed his Bentley Continental GTC at speed into a Hyundai Sonata driven by a 23-year old engineering graduate named Scott Wilson at a stop sign at Lake Worth Road and 120th Avenue in Wellington, Florida. Wilson’s car was catapulted into a canal and he subsequently drowned.

 

A reconstruction of how John Goodman’s 2007 Bentley Continental GTC hit Scott Wilson’s Hyundai Sonata


 

Goodman, who also founded the International Polo Club Palm Beach and was a protégé of the $7 billion Ponzi-schemer Sir Allan Stanford, claimed: “I don’t know what happened,” whilst on the stand this week before adding that the car suddenly lurched forward at the intersection. He continued: “I began to apply my brakes, and the car did not seem to be stopping as easily as I was used to.”

 

The Players Club: owned by Wall Street financier and Bridgehampton Polo principal Neil Hirsch. The club recently settled a wrongful death civil lawsuit with the Scott Wilson’s family for an undisclosed amount that is thought to be in the region of $6 million.


 

Goodman, who stated that he drank two shots of tequila and two shots of vodka at The Players Club prior to the accident, then fled the scene leaving Wilson to drown belted in the driver seat of his vehicle. In court he argued that he did not know he’d hit another driver and headed to the “man cave” of a nearby barn where he downed yet more booze to “alleviate [his] pain.”

 

Next, Goodman went to a trailer park and woke a woman named Lisa Pembleton. Here, an hour after the accident, he called first his girlfriend-daughter Heather Laurso Hutchins (also known as Heather Colby), an assistant and then finally 911 at 1.55am at the instructions of Pembleton.

 

John Goodman’s $272 Players Club Bar bill for 10 Espolon Silver 10 singles, 1 Patron Silver single, 1 JW Red single, 1 Grey Goose single and 5 Patron Silver 5 singles, opened at 11:23pm on the 11th February 2010 and closed at 12:52am on the 12th February 2010


 

In defence, Roy Black, Goodman’s attorney, blamed the accident on a fault with his “out-of-control runaway monster” Bentley. Bentley’s spokesperson, Valentine O’Connor, said in response:

 

“We have complete confidence in our vehicles, and are prepared to demonstrate such confidence when appropriate.”

 

If indeed a fault were with the car, it would be the first Bentley in the United States to have experienced a “throttle-brake-computer” failure and plainly the jury didn’t believe such.

 

Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras


 

The trial attracted significant media interest not only because of Goodman’s wealth and status but also because of the witnesses called. Amongst them was the “David Beckham of polo,” Ignacio Figueras, who had been paid $120,000 to play on Goodman’s polo team. Figueras testified that he had not seen Goodman “impaired” that night when he had worked as a “celebrity bartender” at the White Horse Tavern but as he’d left the party early, his evidence plainly didn’t count for much.

 

The key argument against Goodman came from Prosecutor Sherri Collins who argued that Goodman could have saved Wilson’s life had he not walked away:

 

“He called his friend, and she had to talk him into calling 911… That is absolutely failure to render aid, that is absolutely failure to give information, that is absolutely not informing the authorities…. If the defendant had rendered aid, Scott Wilson would have lived.”

 

Scott Wilson


 

Today, John Goodman was convicted of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide. Sentencing has been set for 30th April and it is expected that he could get up to 30 years in jail.

 

Of the verdict, State Attorney Peter Antonnacci commented:

 

“Scott Wilson was a young man with a bright future and his life was tragically cut short. I hope that Scott’s family now experiences some closure so that the healing process can go forward in this particularly tragic event.”

 

Lily Wilson, the mother of the victim, added:

 

“I know that it took a lot for them to come up with a conclusion and justice has been served… I’m always gonna miss my son… I will always cherish his memories. And now, coming from me and the rest of the family and his friends, it’s time for the healing process to begin.”

 

Goodman’s hacienda at 3665 120th Avenue, Wellington, Florida, FL 33414, a property leased from a trust that benefits his two children and 42-year old girlfriend Heather Laruso Hutchins (also known as Heather Colby). Goodman recently adopted Ms Hutchins as his daughter so that she could also benefit from the trust.


 

This case is indeed a tragedy for all involved. Scott Wilson lost his life because John Goodman did not attempt to save him but equally a man whom many describe as “generous” and “decent” is heading to the clink. Today was not a day when the Goodman family could say: “Thank goodness for Goodman.”

 

For more information on the International Polo Club Palm Beach, 3667 120th Avenue South, Wellington, Florida, FL 33414, go to: http://www.internationalpoloclub.com

 

For more information on The Players Club Restaurant, 13140 Southshore Blvd, Wellington, Florida, FL 33414, go to: http://playersclubrestaurant.com

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday, March 27

The blini baron triumphs

A review of Novikov’s Asian Restaurant

 

I went to Novikov expecting something brash and “oligarch-tastic” having read articles that bigged up this recent Russian arrival at the heart of Mayfair as just such. As Wayne Rooney once said: “How wrong was I?”

 

Arkady Novikov

Novikov is owned by Arkady Novikov, a man who heads an empire that includes over 50 restaurants in Moscow, supermarkets, multiplex cinemas and florists. Dubbed the “blini baron,” the maverick Novikov employs some 7,000 people in total and counts a clientele of Bill Clinton, Vladimir Putin and Naomi Campbell amongst his patrons. He doesn’t have an office as he prefers to work out of whichever restaurant needs his attention at any given moment and keeps his employees on their toes by aiming to visit each of his restaurants at least once a week. Novikov Berkeley Street is the first foray into restaurant ownership outside of Russia for a man who also purchased the late Gianni Versace’s Villa Fontanelle on Lake Como for £26 million in 2008.

Gianni Versace pictured outside the Villa Fontanelle, near Moltrasio on Lake Como in Lombardy, Italy

 

Novikov London is a vast 400-seat restaurant and bar that is open daily from 7.30am to 11.30pm and split into three parts. In this colossal space, which cost some £8 million to create, is an Italian restaurant and a large wood paneled bar but what I got to try along with my esteemed dining companion, Anthony Brown, was their superb pan-Asian restaurant.

 

A natural haunt for Mayfair’s wealthy “hedgies,” the clientele of the restaurant also numbers Rhianna, David Walliams, Lara Stone, Tamara Ecclestone, Nick Candy and Holly Vallance. Here indeed is a place where the modern day equivalents of Jay Gatsby can feel perfectly at home.

 

The pan-Asian restaurant is understated and dark. Though I personally found that the tables were a little too close together, I was especially impressed by the knowledgeable and friendly staff as well as the open “market” area showcasing the finest seafood, fruit and vegetables.

 

Novikov’s “market” area showcasing seafood, fruit and vegetables

The menu parades diners through a culinary tour offering a spectacular selection of Asian dishes. Divided into sections that include dim sum, maki, sushi and sashimi, we started with some edamame with sea salt (£4) before trying a most sophisticated Thai yam bean dumpling (£6) and some steamed king crab and parma ham dumplings (£9). The 5-piece prawn tempura with a tesuyu sauce (£17) was simply divine but the only disappointment was that the wasabi was not quite punchy enough.

 

We continued with a California maki roll (£12) that contained some of the most fantastic crab I’ve ever tried. Accompanied by deliciously juicy ginger, this was one of the highlights of the meal but the undoubted number one hit was the unagi (£17), a dish made from Japanese freshwater eels. Sweet yet also salty, this grilled dish alone will make me revisit Novikov again and again. Our next choice was  yuzu soy dressed tuna sashimi (£17) that had been flash cooked for 2 to 3 seconds. This was itself delicious but the citrus was a little overwhelming.

 

For the main course, we opted to share a 180g chilli ginger spicy beef fillet (£24) served with steamed jasmine rice (£5) and a roast half duck with a Chinese spiced soy sauce (£22). The former was phenomenal and definitely deserving of a mention in despatches.

 

For pudding I opted for a green tea crème brûlée accompanied by a punchy guava sorbet (£8) that was unusual and delicious. Mr Brown’s poached pear, however, was a dish that he described as “a little pedestrian.”

 

Novikov’s Asian restaurant

Novikov is somewhere that I urge readers to try. Deservedly lauded as “Russia’s most successful restaurateur,” Mr Novikov is on to a winner in Berkeley Street and I predict further openings in Europe will, in due course, be equally well received. His attention to detail and fastidious nature are, in my opinion, plainly what makes him and his restaurants such a runaway success.

 

I’ll leave the final word with Mr Novikov himself: “People often ask me whether I plan on continuing to expand. I always tell myself, ‘Enough. Stop.’ But I just can’t!”

 

Novikov, 50a Berkeley Street, London, W1J 8HA. Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7399 4330. Website: http://www.novikovrestaurant.co.uk

 

For more information on the Novikov Restaurant Group, go to: http://eng.novikovgroup.ru

 

Follow Novikov on Twitter at: http://www.twiter.com/NovikovLondon

 

 

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Wednesday, March 28

Sophie’s choice

Tablecloths and bedspreads from Jaipur

 

It is always good to see a young friend launching a new business and Sophie Rossdale is a fine example of such.

 

A hand printed Adair tablecloth

During a trip to India, Rossdale discovered a team of artisans who made the most appealing tablecloths and bedspreads and set about importing them into the UK.

 

Hand-printed in “The Pink City” of Jaipur in Rajasthan, the colourful designs she chose combine an “authentic Indian style with a modern European twist” and they certainly will enliven any dining space or bedroom.

 

Sophie Rossdale

Prices for the cloths start at £20 and bedspreads start at £60 each. Available in small and large sizes, the tablecloths measure 2.4m x 1.7m and 2m x 2m. A large bedspread is 2.7m x 2.2m.

 

Another example of an Adair tablecloth

 

Comments Rossdale:

 

“I picked these designs because they bring joy to any room. They are of the highest quality and are easy to wash, dry and press. They also make great gifts for friends and family.”

 

For more information of the Adair range, go to: http://www.adairuk.com. To purchase, contact Sophie Rossdale on +44 (0) 793 203 7547 or email her at: sophie@adairuk.com

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Is it worth the Fisk?

An overview on the pioneering Fisker Automotive company

Electric vehicles have long interested me. A formidable engineer I knew was hugely sceptical of the early offerings but another friend, Nicko Williamson, has been a pioneer in green vehicles through his hugely successful Climate Cars taxi business. Williamson recently was named one of London’s “1,000 most influential people” and has even gained endorsement from The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

The stunning Fisker Karma

In the main, electric cars are ones that I can’t say I’d choose to travel in. After reading in October 2010 of a lady named Judit Nadal who died in London in what her husband described as a “flimsy vehicle,” I became even more suspicious. The badly designed G-Wiz, following this tragic death, brought to this class of vehicles as much of an association with danger as they already had with a lack of both range and power. Thankfully, this image is now changing thanks to a company named Fisker Automotive.

 

On a recent BBC Top Gear show, presenter James May introduced viewers to the Fisker Automotive’s first model, the Karma. Here, he stated, was a car that truly is a stunningly designed electric vehicle but also one that actually is pretty swift off the mark too.

 

The normally cynical May praised the Fisker Karma as “probably the most politically correct car on earth” whilst his guest AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson, himself a confirmed petrolhead, described it as a “cracking looking jamjar.” That these two car lovers were impressed immediately drew me to examine this vehicle further.

A view of the Fisker Karma’s solar panel roof

Capable of achieving 0 – 60 mph in “just a tad over 6 seconds,” the Fisker Karma may only be capable of a top speed of 125 mph but it has more torque than a Bugatti Veyron because of its electric motors. It is, according to May, a 2.5 tonne vehicle that is a “pleasure to drive.”

 

Unlike other electric vehicles, the Fisker Karma boasts a 2.0 litre General Motors sourced petrol engine that, when engaged, creates more electricity. Effectively this is a vehicle with an onboard power station and one that additionally boasts a 120-watt solar panel on the roof. The car, though, is also the only luxury electric vehicle currently available that has an ability to travel 50 miles on electric only with zero emissions. Environmental considerations here plainly don’t sacrifice an enjoyable drive.

 

To Henrik Fisker, the Danish co-founder of Fisker Automotive, style was also a key consideration. Fisker was responsible for the styling of vehicles including the Shelby GR1 concept, the Aston V8 Vantage and the BMW Z8 Roadster in previous roles at the Ford Motor Company, Aston Martin and DesignworksUSA, BMW’s California-based design studio and in the Karma he’s again shown his ability to create a vehicle that stands out.

 

The design keeps sustainability in mind. Fabrics are sourced from the Bridge of Weir Scottish leather makers, who insist upon the suppliers abiding to the Farm Animal Welfare Council’s conditions, and in the EcoChic Karma model it is possible to have an interior that is made with completely animal-free materials. Diamond Dust™ paint is free of solvents and wood trims are unvarnished and reclaimed from Californian wild fires.

 

Fisker Automotive has built about 2,000 units and delivered 840 of them to 46 dealers and distributors throughout the USA. The company claims that: “orders are outpacing production” and Al Gore, Colin Powell, Leonardo di Caprio and Ashton Kutcher already number among their customers.

 

Henrik Fisker, co-Founder of Fisker Automotive

Today, Fisker Automotive announced the appointment of Tom LaSorda, a former CEO, President and Vice Chairman of the Chrysler Group, as their new CEO and gave him full responsibility for the company’s day-to-day operations. This move comes after recent speculation that Fisker Automative was about to go under after it laid off around 65 of its 700 workers following issues with various loans from the US Department of Energy. The appointment of a titan of LaSorda’s standing, industry experts suggest, puts paid to such rumours.

 

As part of today’s deal, in a business that management claim will turn a profit by 2013, LaSorda has invested his own money in the company whilst Fisker will now concentrate on brand building and designing new vehicles.

 

A Fisker Karma displayed in the window of Harrods, 87 – 135 Brompton Road, London, SW1X 7XL

This January, Fisker Automotive displayed the Karma in the window at Harrods in London during the Winter Sale to showcase it to an international audience. Priced from $102,000 (around £86,000), the Fisker Karma will become available in markets outside of America in the coming months. A second vehicle, the Fisker Surf Shooting Brake, will be launched at a later date.

In the UK itself, the Fisker Karma will be on sale in 2013 and I, for one, will very much look forward to hearing more about this groundbreaking and luxurious electric arrival.

 

For more information on Fisker Automotive, go to: http://www.fiskerautomotive.com

 

Follow Fisker Automotive on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/fiskerauto

 

For more on Climate Cars, go to: http://www.climatecars.com

 

All images © Fisker Automotive 2012.

 

 

 

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Tuesday, April 3

A chic serpent

A review of Roberto Cavalli Vodka

The Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli is best known for using exotic wild animal prints in his creations and for giving jeans a “sand-blasted look” that has become the standard style for the majority of brands.

 

Roberto Cavalli

 

Born in 1940 in Florence, Cavalli sells his main lines in over 50 countries and owns various clothing brands as well as producing watches, perfumes and eyewear. Married to Eva Düringer, who he met when he was a judge at the Miss Universe 1977 pageant, Cavalli’s success is often attributed to his success at maximising returns from “celebrity endorsement.” Victoria Beckham, Halle Berry, Brigitte Bardot, Mary J Blige, Elton John, Sean “P Diddy” Coombs, Kate Moss and Shakira all number amongst his muses and customers.

 

The father of five children from two marriages, Cavalli chose the symbol of the snake as the mascot for his fashion house and most of his inspiration is said to come from nature itself. His brands especially prospered in the United States after the plot of an entire episode of Sex and the City centred upon a Roberto Cavalli dress but it is his wife who is credited with transforming his business fortunes. “I was thinking maybe to stop,” Cavalli told Time International, “… but then Eva became interested so I started—for her—to involve myself again.” Today, his net worth is estimated at $500 million.

 

Roberto Cavalli Vodka

 

After being told about Roberto Cavalli Vodka, I got in touch with Tommaso Cavalli, the eldest son of Roberto Cavalli, who has built himself a successful career breeding horses and developing the family’s wine and spirit range. Based in Chianti, where the family also produce their Tenuta Degli Dei range of wines, Tommaso Cavalli, in a 2010 interview for DNA India, suggested:

 

“When people hear about Cavalli Vodka or Wine, they want to try [it] out because of the name.”

 

This indeed tallies as there have been various attempts at cashing in on fashion and celebrity in the vodka market in recent years. Most, though, have floundered or been trounced as shoddy attempts to take on Grey Goose and Belvedere. I haven’t heard, for example, much of Donald Trump’s vodka since 2006 and critics described it as one that “will produce a not-so luxurious hangover.” Roberto Cavalli Vodka, launched in 2005, however, has deservedly proved itself truly to be an exception to this trend.

 

Tommaso Cavalli pictured with his family’s vodka

 

Packaged in a stylish frosted bottle, this is one that has been designed to look elegantly sophisticated. Tall and slender, with an appropriately snake like climbing up it, this is a bottle that suitably reflects the “ultra premium status” of Cavalli’s brands.

 

The vodka itself is 40% ABV and uniquely is made entirely in Italy. The purest water is taken from the Monta Rosa slopes and the finest of grains come from the valleys where the South-Western Alps meet the River Po, Italy’s longest river. Filtration through flakes of Italian Carrara marble results in a taste that I found subtly peppery with a slight hint of citrus. Roberto Cavalli Vodka, as a result, makes a perfect martini but also works well in long drinks.

 

Of the vodka that bares his name, Roberto Cavalli concludes:

 

“I love the pureness of vodka, especially of my vodka: it is like water and fire coming together in a single element.”

 

If you’re looking to add an element of style to your drinks cabinet, make sure you add a bottle of Roberto Cavalli Vodka. It can only add to your status as one who’ll be considered both super cool and super chic.

 

For more information on Roberto Cavalli Vodka, go to: http://www.robertocavallivodka.com

 

Purchase Roberto Cavalli Vodka through TheDrinkshop.com for £48.95 for a 70cl bottle at: http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/nlpdetail.php?prodid=3682

 

Follow Roberto Cavalli on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/roberto_cavalli

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Wednesday, April 4

The number one Pig

A review of The Pig at Brockenhurst

 

When I received an invitation to The Pig at Brockenhurst I seized the opportunity with gusto having read so many rave reviews since it opened last July.

 

The front elevation of The Pig

Another view of The Pig

Situated at the heart of the New Forest National Park and owned by the Lime Wood Group, this 26-bedroom hotel is just 2 hours by car or train from London.

 

I traveled from Waterloo with a group that included The Pig’s delightful PR, Primrose Smith, and two writers and bloggers, Jamie Cotter-Craig and Jassy Davis. Their company was one of the many highlights of the day.

 

Lt Col The Hon Malcolm Bowes-Lyon (1874 – 1957) pictured with his wife The Hon Mrs Winifred Bowes-Lyon and their dog at Brockenhurst Tennis Week in the 1920s

Built as a groom keeper’s lodge and once the home of Lt Col The Hon Malcolm Bowes-Lyon, uncle of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, The Pig was previously known as the Whitley Ridge Hotel. For some time it was operated by Brigadier John Doyle, a nephew of Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

 

The Pig is now part of the Lime Wood Group that also includes Lime Wood, also in the New Forest, and the Le Portetta hotel, lofts and lodges in Courchevel, France. The group, I am told, also plan to open further hotels in the Cotswolds and on the coast. Headed by Robin Hutson, best known for having created the hugely successful Hotel du Vin group and for his collaboration in the Soho House Group, Lime Wood have conducted a comprehensive refurbishment of this 17th century building and mixed classic and contemporary styles in a most effective manner.

 

Designed by Judy Hutson, who previously styled the first seven Hotel du Vin properties, The Peat Spade Inn, The Anchor Inn and The Queen’s Arms, the look at The Pig is “shabby chic.” Touches such as mismatched glassware give the place a really homely and relaxed feel and there is definitely something akin to Babington House about the atmosphere.

 

After a glass of champagne, we were introduced to The Pig’s knowledgeable head chef, James Golding. Passionate about the source of the ingredients he uses, Golding began his career at the age of 16 and trained at The Academy of Culinary Arts. After progressing through positions with The Savoy Group and at Le Caprice, J Sheekey, the Soho House in New York and at Harbour Heights in Sandbanks, he has created a menu that focuses on the “finest and freshest seasonal ingredients that are produced sustainably and locally.”

 

Head chef James Golding pictured in The Pig’s kitchen garden with Gin and Crumpets blogger Jassy Davis

Golding took our group on a tour of The Pig’s grounds and imparted knowledge of the fruits, vegetables and other ingredients he uses to create a “25 mile menu” that changes daily to reflect what is available. This menu is one that is entirely governed by what is currently growing here and in season.

 

Many of Golding’s ingredients are foraged by “The Wild Cook” Gary Eveleigh, who is also known for taking passengers out into the Solent on his Puffin Cruises summer ferries, but others are grown in the hotel’s fruit cages, greenhouses and polytunnels.

 

Outside of the kitchen garden, The Pig also has a wild flower meadow but Golding’s clearest love is for the pigs he keeps in their paddocks. His dedication to them is shown in the colourful tattoos that pepper his arms.

 

Local suppliers include the Newhouse Venison & Game company, the Elling Tide Mill, Hutching Bros Seafood & Game and T. Bartlett & Sons. Detailed information on each is usefully displayed on the rear of the menu that we were given as we were led into The Pig’s delightfully airy conservatory restaurant.

 

One of The Pig’s pigs

James Golding’s pig tattoo

At this point our group was joined by Jen Weatherley, the charming marketing manager of The Pig, for a jovial lunch that was truly phenomenal. The room was, as I had read in both Lucas Hollweg’s piece for the Sunday Times’s Style magazine and Zoe Williams’s review for The Telegraph, buzzing and packed with happy diners and I especially liked the informality of it.

 

The Pig’s Marston & Langinger designed conservatory restaurant

To begin we shared a selection of “piggy bits” (all at £3.50) that included saddleback crackling that was succulent and flavoursome.  The Hampshire red wine salami with Dorset olives, the Bartlett’s air dried “Karma” ham and most especially the Brock eggs with Colman’s were equally enjoyable.

 

Next, I opted for the duck egg and Bartlett’s black pudding hash with home reared crispy bacon and H.P. jus (£7 starter/£14 main). It was rightly the envy of the table and, for me, the best dish of the day. My stomach rumbles at the thought of returning for a second helping.

 

My main course had to be The Pig’s slow roasted pork belly that comes served with a roasted squash salad and apple sauce (£17). A signature of the restaurant, the meat was tender and the sides (all at £3.50) of sweet honeyed baby parsnips and the flower pot of triple cooked chips were delicious. The crispy tobacco onions, however, were undoubtedly the biggest hit with the whole table.

 

A sorbet with space dust was a welcome interlude and for the final course, I chose the selection of local artisan cheeses (£8.50). Served with homemade chutney, grapes and biscuits, the portion was generous and I found it most satisfactory.

 

An outdoor fireplace in the courtyard

Before leaving we were handed a book on pig husbandry. Inside it, cleverly, is The Pig’s cocktail list and it only seemed right to head to the bar to toast Golding and his team. My Negroni, made with Chase Gin, was perfectly made and just to my liking.

 

In summary, The Pig is an unpretentious place that is passionately run. My experience was faultless. Culinary delights like this are hard to find and as a result it’s joined the top draw of country destinations that, as the Telegraph piece laboured to mention, is even “busy on a Monday.”

 

The bar at The Pig

Go the whole hog and head to The Pig. The only problem you’ll find here is that it’s so deservedly popular that there probably won’t be room at the inn.

 

The Pig, Beaulieu Road, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, SO42 7QL. Telephone: +44 (0) 1590 622354. Website: http://www.thepighotel.co.uk

 

Room rates start at a very reasonable £125 per night.

 

Follow The Pig on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/The_Pig_Hotel

 

For more information on forager Gary Eveleigh, go to: http://www.garryeveleigh.com. Learn more about his Puffin Cruises at: http://www.puffincruiseslymington.com

 

Read Jassy Davis’s Gin and Crumpets blog at: http://ginandcrumpets.com. Follow Jassy on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/ginandcrumpets

 

Read Jamie Cotter-Craig’s JCC’s Food & Drink Blog at: http://jccrestaurantreviews.blogspot.co.uk. Follow Jamie on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/JCotterCraig

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Thursday, April 5

Bricking it

The case of Samantha Brick

 

This probably will be one of the shortest pieces I ever write, as, frankly, I don’t want to give Samantha Brick any more publicity than she’s already brought upon herself.

 

Samantha Brick pictured with her gun wielding husband, Pascal

 
Brick, a Daily Mail journalist, wrote a piece on Tuesday in which she proclaimed that she was “beautiful” and that other women hate her as a result. She arrogantly concluded the piece by stating:

 

“Perhaps then the sisterhood will finally stop judging me so harshly on what I look like, and instead accept me for who I am.”

 

The article attracted a huge amount of attention and over 5,000 comments. It even trended on Twitter but what the press and public seem to have failed to realise is that this is nothing other than a publicity stunt created by her employers in order to boost sales. Everyone, it seems, has fallen for this hook, line and sinker and the key beneficiary is indeed none other than the Daily Mail.

 

Ms Brick, when she wrote her article, knew exactly what she was doing and I assume she’s been paid handsomely in return for the abuse that has followed. I, for one, had never heard of her until yesterday and I hope now that she’ll fade back into much deserved obscurity. Those I dined with last night thankfully felt the same.

 

The Daily Mail created the “beautiful” Samantha Brick. Please, now, can they take her away?

 

Read Samantha Brick’s original piece at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2124246/Samantha-Brick-downsides-looking-pretty-Why-women-hate-beautiful.html

 

Follow Samantha Brick on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/SamanthaBrick

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Friday, April 6

Bringing out the Branston

Profile: The very well connected Jacqueline Branston

 

Jacqueline, Jackie to her friends, Branston is a lady described by the Who’s Really Who author Richard Compton-Miller as being one that: “hears, sees and says nothing.” Discretion is a key part of her makeup and with the launch of her new concierge business, many others will undoubtedly benefit from her access to the highest echelons.

Jacqueline "Jackie" Branston

Aged 15, Branston was discovered by a talent scout whilst on a secretarial course. She appeared in an advertisement for The Cutty Sark clipper ship in Time Magazine and was then headhunted by the Lucie Clayton modeling agency.

 

In turn, huge success followed. Branston starred in commercials for Cadbury’s, Fry’s Turkish Delight, Bisto and Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes and was photographed by Patrick Anson, the 5th Earl of Lichfield. She dated both Warren Beatty and George Hamilton.

 

A move to New York followed and Branston became friends with Andy Warhol, who sketched her, and involved in all manner of activities in the arts. A career change after gaining an art degree from the Institute of Contemporary Art led her into organising exhibitions for emerging artists. These became renowned not only because of the quality of the works of those she represented but also due to the gravitas of those who attended them.

 

In the social whirlwind that ensued, Branston was even kidnapped by the Berber tribe whilst at the 50th birthday party of publisher Malcolm Forbes in Tangiers. She successfully turned her hand to charitable fundraising as well, helping Helen de Rothschild with the restoration of Versailles and in raising funds for statues of Mozart in Orange Square, SW1 and Raoul Wallenberg in Great Cumberland Place, W1.

 

Back in London, today, Branston is utilising her connections to help visitors from China, Russia and the Middle East. With her chauffeur driven Mercedes, she offers access to the best events, restaurants and clubs. She can secure access to the most elusive theatre tickets or provide introductions to personalities and most of all show you a London that you never new existed.

 

Jacqueline Branston is truly a lady for all seasons. Make sure you’ve got her details in your Rolodex.

 

For more information on Jacqueline Branston’s concierge service, email her at: jackiebranston@rocketmail.com

 

Follow Jacqueline Branston on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/jackiebranston

 

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Sunday, April 8

Keep your oar out Oldfield

Profile: Trenton Oldfield: the man who temporarily halted the 2012 Boat Race

 

“Why are the right such angry people?” asked @NotAGateway, the shared Twitter account of Deepa Naik and her boyfriend Trenton Oldfield yesterday afternoon.

 

In this comment, Oldfield, who had just managed to swim into the path of the Oxford boat in the 2012 Xchanging Boat Race, is revealed as nothing other than a delusional moron. The Boat Race has nothing to do with politics. It’s simply an event that is enjoyed by the thousands who watch it and one for which the contestants train long and hard.

 

Trenton Oldfield pictured disrupting Oxford’s vessel

 

At circa 2.21pm, Oldfield, a campaigner who runs a blog named Elitism Leads to Tyranny, swam out into the course of the 4 ¼ mile course in a wetsuit in a bid to protest against what he describes as: “a pseudo competition” where:

 

“… elitists and those with elitist sympathies have come together every year but one for the last 158 years to perform, in the most public way, their ambition for the structures and subsequent benefits from elitism and privilege to continue.”

 

Oldfield is lucky that Oxford’s Zoe de Toledo, who also played a cox in the 2010 film The Social Network, spotted the danger in time and stopped her crew as this nitwit could have so easily been badly injured by the oars he swam into.

 

A smiling Trenton Oldfield pictured as he is led away by police from Chiswick Pier and taken to Chiswick Police Station

 

This self-proclaimed Emily Davison inspired “activist,” in an essay he posts on the blog, describes the “guerilla tactics” that he successfully used to create “embarrassment, … frustration and manifesting a vulnerability” for the “elitist” organisers of the event. In the same document, he goes on to suggest actions of civil disobedience that others could use in the future. These include:

 

• “Setting off Fire Alarms in buildings where we work, perhaps at strategic times, when a particular meeting is meant to happen that will agree the cutting of services.”

 

• “If you are a taxi driver can you take the passenger the slowest possible and most expensive route?”

 

• “If you work in a restaurant where elitists eat, can you serve the food once it is cold or cook the wrong food?”

 

• “If you are a builder repairing the house of an elitist can you also bug it and share the footage and audio online?”

 

• “Can you take up the time of a ‘VIP’ you work for by arranging time consuming meetings, asking as many questions as possible? Can you make them late?”

 

Oldfield is a man who was educated at a private school and the LSE. He states on his Twitter account that he worked at the Financial Times whilst at university and is therefore “#notatrustafarian.” His childish comments prove that his education was wasted and he was rightly arrested and charged for a section 5 public order offence once taken out of the water. Bailed last night, he will appear at Feltham Magistrates’ Court on 23rd April.

 

Trenton Oldfield emerges from Chiswick Police Station last night following being charged with a section 5 public order offence

 

One of the Oxford crew, William Zeng, rightly summed up the thoughts of many when he used his Twitter account to respond to the actions of Oldfield:

 

“When I missed your head with my blade I knew only that you were a swimmer, and if you say you are a protester then no matter what you say your cause may be, your action speaks too loudly for me to hear you… I know exactly what you were protesting. You were protesting the right of 17 young men and one woman to compete fairly and honourably, to demonstrate their hard work and desire in a proud tradition… You, who would make a mockery of their dedication and their courage, are a mockery of a man.”

 

Equally, for once, I find myself agreeing with the television presenter Richard Madeley who tweeted:

 

“God, the monumental ego and selfishness of the swimmer who screwed the Boat Race. Imagine sharing living space with someone like that.”

 

Trenton Oldfield is a man who plainly needs help. I hope he gets it.

 

For more information on the 2012 Xchanging Boat Race, go to: http://www.theboatrace.org

 

View Trenton Oldfield’s Elitism Leads to Tyranny blog at: http://elitismleadstotyranny.squarespace.com

 

View Trenton Oldfield’s Royal Society of Arts Fellow Network page at: http://rsafellowship.com/profile/TrentonOldfield

 

Follow Trenton Oldfield and his colleague Deepa Naik on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/NotAGateway

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Monday, April 9

The worthy Mr Waites

Profile: Sculptor Edward Waites

 

Continuing my series of profiles of up and coming talent, it was a pleasure to recently meet the extremely talented Suffolk based sculptor Edward Waites.

 

Edward "Ed" Waites

A specialist in animal sculpture, 24-year old Waites is largely self-taught. Leopards, lions, rhinos, horses and bulls are a firm favourite as subjects and his aim is to capture and emphasise their muscles, sinew and movement.

 

A colt by Edward Waites: edition of 9 in bronze and priced at £4,200

Passionate about his craft, Waites, who lives near Newmarket, has already made impressive inroads into his chosen profession at such a young age. He has produced works for Lady Bamford and Ivan Massow and his sculptures can also be found in several royal collections around the world. Represented primarily by the W. H. Patterson gallery in Mayfair’s Albermarle Street, Waites also works on a commission basis.

 

A 95mm high bronze of an elephant, part of an edition of 95 and priced at £180 that is available in both polished and patinated finishes

Recently Waites has expanded into creating miniatures of birds, bovine animals, dogs, domestic animals, horses and wild animals. Produced as limited editions and very reasonably priced between £80 to £180, these represent an easy way to begin collecting and great value for money.

 

A 75mm high bronze of a whippet, part of an edition of 150 and priced at £120 each

From May 16th to 20th, Edward Waites will be exhibiting at the Animal Art Fair on the River Side Walkway on the South Bank in London. Don’t miss it.

 

Contact Edward Waites by telephone at +44 (0) 1638 721275 or on email at ejw@edwardwaites.co.uk. View his website at: http://www.edwardwaites.co.uk

 

Follow Edward Waites on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/Edward.Waites.Sculpture12

 

Follow Edward Waites on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/EdwardWaites

 

For more information on the Animal Art Fair, go to: http://www.animalartfair.com

 

 

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Tuesday, April 10

Prospering Paris

Profile: The genius of self-promotion that is Paris Hilton

 

At a dinner party last week, my guests gasped in horror when I said that I view Paris Hilton to be a genius. Their faces turned ashen and one asked if I had lost the plot. In the ensuing discussion, several described her as the personification of vulgarity and tastelessness. Others complained that Hilton had achieved nothing with her life and one went as far as to say that this young lady was notable for nothing other than an appearance in a sex tape in 2003.

 

Paris Whitney Hilton (1981 - )

For the few who don’t know her, Miss Hilton is the 31-year old great-granddaughter of Conrad Hilton, the founder of Hilton Hotels. On her official Twitter account she describes herself as a: “Model, Actress, Singer, Brand, Business Woman, Fashion Designer, Author, Philanthropist and Empire.” That, indeed, is certainly quite a collection.

 

Paris Hilton with her parents Richard Howard and Kathy Hilton and younger brother Conrad Hilton

“Life is too short to blend in,” said Hilton in an interview and her philosophy is indeed one that I’d agree with. Hilton may have done some pretty tasteless and silly things over the years and her shows Paris Hilton’s My New BFF and The Simple Life were not my kind of viewing, but her brilliance is that she knows how to turn publicity into dollar returns. Now worth some $100,000,000, she’s the one who is having the last laugh.

 

In a 2006 interview for Guardian Unlimited, Hilton aptly summed up the reason for her success:

 

“People can’t believe how hard I work…. I love it. I think it just runs through my veins. My great-grandfather was a bellboy and had a dream to do a hotel chain, so I think I get it from him.”

 

Conrad Nicholson Hilton, Sr. (1887 – 1979): the “Innkeeper to the World” who was also married to the actress Zsa Zsa Gabor (1936 – 1997)

Like or loathe her, the determined Miss Hilton’s achievements are impressive and I’ll leave her the final word:

 

“I don’t think there’s ever been anyone like me that’s lasted. And I’m going to keep lasting.”

 

View Paris Hilton’s official website at: http://www.parishilton.com

 

Follow Paris Hilton on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/ParisHilton

 

 

 

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Sunday, April 15

Blessed Clarence

The sale of the £22,500,000 Clarence House in Richmond

 

Built in 1696 for a haberdasher merchant named Nathaniel Rawlins, Clarence House in Richmond was subsequently extended by his daughter, Elizabeth, before it became a Catholic school in 1792.

 

The exterior of the Grade II listed Clarence House, 2 The Vineyard, Richmond Hill, Surrey, TW10 6AQ

 

One student at the various schools that were subsequently run from the house was Bernardo O’Higgins, the liberator and founding father of Chile. Famous for his orders, which included such statements as: “Lads! Live with honour, or die with glory! He who is brave, follow me!” during the battle of El Roble, O’Higgins held office from 1817 to 1823. He was deposed by his former “closest ally” Ramón Freire in a conservative coup in January of that year, exiled to Peru and died due to cardiac problems in Lima in 1842.

 

Bernardo O’Higgins (1778 – 1842), 2nd Supreme Director of Chile

 

Between 1941 and 1947, Clarence House became a storage house for Fortnum & Mason. Their plans in 1943 to demolish the building and to replace it with a bakery, chocolate manufactory, store, tailoring shop and rooms for packing tea and coffee were not executed and in 1967 the house was purchased by the actor Brian Blessed.

 

Actor Brian Blessed (1936 - )

 

Blessed, known for his “sonorous voice and hearty, king-sized portrayals,” is a prolific performer who has appeared in Z-Cars, The Avengers, Lovejoy and Flash Gordon. After a successful campaign on the social network Facebook, Blessed became a voice option for TomTom’s satellite navigation devices in 2010 and he also holds the record being the oldest man to trek on foot to the magnetic North Pole. Married to Hildegarde Neil, an actress who appeared alongside Roger Moore in the The Man Who Haunted Himself, Blessed subsequently moved to Windlesham, also in Surrey.

 

A reception room designed by Taylor Howes Design

Clarence House’s dining room

The house’s ultra modern kitchen

 

Considered “one of the finest houses in South West London,” Clarence House has been restored by Taylor Howes Design, who also designed the Hotel Meyrick in Galway, Ireland. It now includes 6 reception rooms, a master suite of bedroom, sitting room, dressing room and bathroom and 5 further bedroom suites. An indoor swimming pool with an infinity style design, gymnasium, 2,000-bottle wine cellar, artist’s studio and 1 bedroom guest cottage complete the offering whilst landscaped gardens by Ross Allan boast magnolia trees, a terrace and water features.

 

Clarence House’s swimming pool

 

Priced at £22,500,000, whoever buys this fine residence will indeed be blessed with more than 10,000 square foot of accommodation. The price, however, is a far cry from the £25,000 Blessed paid for it back in 1967.

 

Clarence House is for sale through the Richmond office of Savills. Contact Patrick Glynn-Jones for more information on +44 (0) 20 8614 9100 or email him at pglynn-jones@savills.com. Further details can be viewed at: http://residentialsearch.savills.co.uk/property-detail/245686

 

Follow Savills on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/savillsuk

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Monday, April 16

Sinking television

Sinking television

A review of Julian Fellowes’s “Titanic”

 

Against better advice, I watched all four episodes of Julian Fellowes’s Titanic television drama. Nothing much happened in the first three episodes but unlike many others, I preserved and watched the final episode on the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the White Star passenger liner.

 

Julian Alexander Fellowes, The Lord Fellowes of West Stafford DL pictured with his “turban-clad” wife Emma Joy Kitchener LVO. The pair, who reside at Stafford House near Dorchester, Dorset, changed their surname from Fellowes to Kitchener-Fellowes on 15th October 1998.

Fellowes is a man who has had remarkable success with both Gosford Park and Downton Abbey. After playing bit part roles in such series as Fantasy Island, Our Friends in the North and Aristocrats, his career took off in 2002 when Gosford Park won an Oscar for the Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. Since then he has been ennobled and become a darling of the middle classes.

The RMS Titanic which sank on 15th April 1912 at 41°43'57"N, 49°56'49"W

The RMS Titanic which sank on 15th April 1912 at 41°43'57"N, 49°56'49"W

One of the RMS Titanic's dining rooms

The RMS Titanic's ornate Grand Staircase

Described by John Doyle of The Globe and Mail as “a high-grade nobs-and-slobs story,” viewing figures fell from 9 million to 3.5 million between episodes 1 and 3 with good reason. To me this was a drama that lacked pace and repeatedly rehashed the same tales. It was tediously futile and an utter waste of four hours of anyone’s time.

 

A scene from Fellowes’s Titanic featuring Toby Jones as John Batley and Maria Doyle-Kennedy as Muriel Batley

Fellowes’s Titanic was truly a damp squib of a drama. May it, like the 1,514 tragic souls lost on 15th April 1912, rest in peace.

 

View ITV1’s official website for Titanic at: http://mip.itvstudios.com/programmes/drama-comedy/618/titanic

 

For more information on The Titanic Memorial Cruise, go to: http://titanicmemorialcruise.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday, April 18

Banking a showcase

The sale of The Hellman Heller Mansion in San Francisco

 

For several years, I enjoyed annual trips to California for San Francisco’s International Film Festival. On my visits I stayed in a tower in one of the smartest addresses, Pacific Heights. The area is home to the city’s elite, the most famous being the author Danielle Steel, and the 1990 thriller Pacific Heights, directed by John Schlessinger CBE and starring Melanie Griffith, Matthew Modine and Michael Keaton, was also set there.

 

During my visits I regularly marveled at the architecture of this wealthy neighbourhood. One building that I found especially striking was a mansion one block north of Lafayette Park at 2020 Jackson Street. An advertisement for this historic home caught my eye this morning as it is now for sale through agents Coldwell Banker.

 

The Hellman Heller Mansion, 2020 Jackson Street, Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CA 94109

 

The 11,500 “single family residence” consists of a grand reception hall, living room, salon and catering kitchen on the ground floor. Below this is an informal dining kitchen, baking kitchen, wine cellar, au-pair’s bedroom suite and a large garage. The first floor comprises of a master bedroom suite of bedroom, dressing room, walk-in-closet, terrace and his and her bathrooms, as well as an office and an additional bedroom. Four more bedrooms and 3 further bathrooms are located on the floor above along with a media room. Outside space, with panoramic views towards Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, is provided in the form of a lower level garden area and a ground floor terrace.

 

The Hellman Heller Mansion's Grand Reception Hallway

The house's impressive staircase

The Formal Dining Room

 

Constructed in 1902 as a wedding gift from Wells Fargo Bank president Isaias Hellman (1842 – 1920) to his daughter Clara Hellman (1878 – 1959) on her marriage to a prominent lawyer named Emanuel S. Heller (1865 – 1926), 2020 Jackson Street is a mansion in the Louis XVI I style. The property cost some $45,000 to build and was designed by a well-known Bay Area architect named Julius E. Krafft, who had emigrated from Germany in 1872. Many original features survive to this day, amongst them mahogany paneling, herringbone wooden floors and a double-curved grand staircase.

 

2020 Jackson Street pictured shortly after the Wells Fargo Nevada National Bank took occupancy in 1906

In 1906, the devastating earthquake and subsequent fires that hit San Francisco killed circa 3,500 people and caused some $400,000,000 in damage to the city. The Hellman Heller mansion, partly due to being situated on the strong bedrock of Pacific Heights and partly due to Krafft’s design, survived intact. For a period it became the temporary headquarters of the Wells Fargo Nevada National Bank, the Union Trust Company and also the offices of Heller’s own law firm, Heller Powers & Ehrman.

 

It is said that this group of business leaders were squeezed into one room with an adjoining water closet. Whilst conducting the mammoth task of clarifying deeds and dealing with insurance claims, they had nowhere other than a tiny bathroom in which to conduct confidential conversations.

 

Emanuel Heller (second left) pictured with his wife Clara (front right) and his father-in-law Iasais Wolf Hellman and sister-in-law Frances Hellman

In later years, Heller’s company evolved and became known just as Heller Ehrman. The prospering organisation negotiated the finance for the Bay Bridge, established the consortium that built the Hoover Dam and took Levi Strauss & Co. public and then private again. Heller Ehrman LLP, which grew to employ more than 730 attorneys in 15 offices in the United States, Europe and Asisa, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008.

 

The Hellman Hellers used 2020 Jackson Street to hold many glittering functions even as they grew into their dotage. The most lavish came in 1945 when the main reception was held in the house for the United Nations Conference on International Organisation. At the conference, the 50 representatives drew up the United Nations Charter.

 

After Clara Hellman Heller, who was also the first woman to sit on Wells Fargo’s board of directors, died, 2020 Jackson Street passed to various subsequent owners. It became publicly prominent once more when it was chosen in 1991 as the San Francisco Designer Showcase home. This year, 21 years later, that honour has been bestowed upon the building again.

 

A terrace at 2020 Jackson Street

The superb views from the property towards Alcatraz

Established 35 years ago, I recall friends speaking of the San Francisco Designer Showcase with great enthusiasm and at 2020 Jackson Street, over 30 designers have been given space to get creative. The result includes rooms such as “The Gentleman’s Study” by Geoffrey De Sousa Interior Design, a “Telephone Room” by Robert Brill Design and “The Press Room” by Lisa Baskamis Interior Design. Even the lift has had a makeover courtesy of Lawanna Cathleen Design.

 

Conceived to raise funds to aid students at San Francisco University High School’s, the annual event has raised nearly $12,000,000 to date. Running from 28th April to 28th May 2012, general admission tickets are priced at $30.  A gala night, with tickets at $175 each, is to be held to mark the opening night on Friday 27th April.

 

Danielle Steele’s 55-room white limestone home, The Spreckels Mansion, built in 1913 for the bride of the sugar heir Adolph Spreckels, is nearby at 2080 Washington Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

The Hellman Heller residence is said to have cost ten times average construction costs when it was built in 1902. Today it is for sale at $17,500,000, a reduction of some $2,500,000 on the asking price of what it was launched onto the market for in 2011.

 

Perhaps, indeed, participation in the 2012 San Francisco Decorator Showcase will result in 2020 Jackson Street’s owners banking a sale for this truly spectacular home.

 

For more information on The Hellman Heller Mansion, contact either Dona Crowder of TRI Coldwell Banker on +1 415 229 1399 or email dona@donacrowder.com or Clark Johnson of Coldwell Banker on +1 925 831 3332 or email clark.johnson@camoves.com. For details, go to: http://www.2020jackson.com

 

For details of the 2012 San Francisco Decorator Showcase at The Hellman Heller Mansion, go to: http://decoratorshowcase.org. Contact Denise Lamont on +1 415 381 8793 or email denise@deniselamottpr.com for more information.

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Friday, April 20

A fact isn’t a fact until you’ve checked it’s a fact

The case for the regulation of the UK’s property industry

 

Don’t get me wrong: I know many good estate agents. At the age of 15, I worked for an incredibly respectable firm based in Lancashire. My boss, a thoroughly charming individual, was one of my earliest influences and I still respect him enormously.

 

Equally, those who have completed the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ courses are people deserving of respect. They are individuals who are professional and knowledgeable. As their website states, over 18,000 follow them on Twitter and their expertise is second to none.

Before putting up a “to let” board, agents should check who really owns the property they are instructed on

In recent days, however, after personally witnessing how one firm of agents have conducted themselves, my thoughts on the negativity that surrounds this “profession” has again been proven true. An apartment in a building I know in London has a most interesting tale. Owned by an old lady who died, it was sold on a short-lease by her executors. The subsequent owners bought this and supposedly then managed to persuade two banks to lend against fictitious longer leases on it. When, eventually, the banks repossessed, the flat remained empty for over a year but several months ago one of the individuals involved smashed down the door and effectively returned as a squatter.

The person concerned spent some time renovating the property before putting it up for rent through a local estate agent. Said agent plainly did no research into whether this person actually owned the apartment. They did not check the deeds or ask questions of their client. The reason for this, they’d argue, is that they are not required to but they were also too lazy to bother. That speaks volumes but because agents are not regulated, such conduct occurs more often than one can imagine. It should not be allowed to continue.

The River House, 435 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022. Well known residents of this block have included Nancy and Henry Kissinger and Susan and John Gutfreund. The building’s co-operative by-laws prevent it being named in real estate listings.

If Prime Minister Cameron wants to boost his much dented popularity, he should act on this issue. Estate agents should be made, like in the USA, to qualify just as those working in financial services have to go through FSA authorisation. Purchasing or renting a home is something that consumes the majority of the income of any individual and such transactions should be better governed.

 

Equally, the owners of estates, such as Cadogan and Grosvenor, ought to become more selective about who they allow to take leases in their respective manors. In New York, many buildings operate by committee. The River House, designed by William Lawrence Bottomley, between 52nd and 53rd Street and the East River in New York, is a prime example of the power of co-op boards. The owners of apartments in this 26-storey landmark, built in 1931 and staffed by white gloved doormen, rejected Richard Nixon, Gloria Vanderbilt and Diane Keaton when they applied to live there. They rightly did their research on these personalities as they did not want to lower the tone of their residence or endure paparazzi intrusion. Similarly, here in London residents should be able to vote to stop noisy youngsters with more money than sense, criminals and so-called celebrities bringing havoc to the buildings where they reside.

 

A 14-room apartment currently available at The River House through Brown Harris Stevens at a price of $8,995,000

Regulating estate agents and residential buildings more effectively is a sure vote winner as most people I speak to tell of bad experiences. It is time the British government got to work.

 

For more information on the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, go to: http://www.rics.org

 

For more information on the apartment in The River House contact either Alexis Bodenheimer of Brown Harris Stevens on +1 212 906 9230 or email her at abodenheimer@bhusa.com or Cathy Franklin of the same company on +1 212 906 9236 or email her at cfranklin@bhusa.com, go to: http://www.bhsusa.com/manhattan/midtown-east/east-52nd-street/coop/1216446

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Pip Pip Hurray!

My response to Terence Blacker’s piece attacking Pippa Middleton

 

Pippa Middleton is not someone I know. I have seen her in bars and at parties but never spoken with her. I do not especially find her derrière attractive and I do not consider her to be one of the world’s most influential people.

Pippa Middleton

This morning, however, I responded on Twitter to a journalist named Terence Blacker about a comment piece he had written for The Independent. In it, he named Miss Middleton a “national embarrassment” and made a factual error in stating:

 

“She has not used her fame to any charitable effect, but has availed herself of a £400,000 publishing advance for a book, presumably ghost-written, on party planning. In her smiling, dimpled way she has done more harm to the cause of women than any airhead celebrity or Page 3 girl.”

 

Mr Blacker is wrong: Along with her brother James, Miss Middleton completed a 56-mile cross-country ski race for the Magic Breakfast charity in Sweden in March. At the time she stated:

 

“My brother and I are raising money for Magic Breakfast, a small registered charity that fights child hunger through breakfast clubs and delivering free breakfasts (bagels, cereal, juice and porridge) to thousands of state primary school children in the UK particularly our inner cities.”

In total, the pair, hats off to them, to date have raised £12,039 for this worthy cause. They have also previously aided other charities, much to their credit.

 

I would suggest that Mr Blacker ought to correct his error by donating his fee for this article to Magic Breakfast. He can do so by visiting Miss Middleton’s JustGiving page. Instead, in reply to my Tweet pointing out the inaccuracy, all I got in response was:

 

“Nope, sorry. I really can’t see Pips as an influential role model.”

 

In turn others responded and I began to understand how Samantha Brick must feel. I’m a big Twitter fan but the barrage of nonsense I received was just tedious. I only pointed out a factual error. I did not say that Miss Middleton had done anything miraculous. The comments included:

 

“It has nothing 2do [sic] with jealousy, it’s 2do with a young lady doing zero work each day yet living life reilly [sic]… It’s not as if she spends her time doing good, like the Royal Family, she just likes to party.”

 

Too many in Britain mock success. Our media builds individuals up only to take huge pleasure in knocking them down. The Middleton family represent a remarkable story and we should all celebrate them. Good for Pippa Middleton for enjoying the world she now inhabits but also good for her for using this fame to do good for others. Yes, Miss Middleton has made mistakes, but honestly hold your hands up and admit it: from time to time, don’t we all?

 

Read Terence Blacker’s piece at: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/terence-blacker/terence-blacker-cant-the-editors-of-time-magazine-see-pippa-middleton-is-a-national-embarrassment-7661423.html

 

View Terence Blacker’s website at: http://www.terenceblacker.com. Follow him on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/TerenceBlacker

 

To donate to Pippa Middleton’s Vasaloppet charitable challenge, go to: https://www.justgiving.com/vasaloppet/new

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W.L. “Lyons” Brown III

One of the Brown-Forman family of booze barons who is now making it on his own. This Laguna Beach resident sold his tequila brand for a profit of $10 million in 2007 and is now educating the world in the Right way to drink gin.

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Sunday, April 22

A Thunderbird that has yet to go

An iconic home that has periodically been for sale for some 7 years with hardly any variation in the price asked for it Continue reading

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Wednesday, April 25

The greenest of Astons

The sale of an Aston Martin Virage Volante used by Prince Charles

 

A press release pinged into my inbox this morning from Bonhams that immediately caught my attention. It came from Leonora Oldfield of Bonhams, someone I hadn’t heard from since the days when we were both involved in fundraising for Lady Meyer’s PACT.

 

The 1994 Aston Martin Virage Volante that was used by Prince Charles until 2008

Most of my readers will know of the subsequent stories covered by The Daily Telegraph and The Independent about how that particular organisation operates and I don’t wish or need to dwell on that matter further.

 

The press release itself contained something that I found far more fascinating. In it, Bonhams announced that they are to auction an Aston Martin Virage Volante that was used by Prince Charles from 1994 until 2008.

 

Prince Charles pictured getting out of the car

Prince Charles driving the car

This spectacular 6.3 litre soft-top vehicle has been on display at Aston Martin’s headquarters at Gaydon since another Aston Martin owned by the environmentally conscious prince was converted to run on bio-ethanol distilled from surplus British wine. That vehicle, an Aston Martin DB6 MKII, was most famously also used by Prince William to drive his new wife from Buckingham Palace to Clarence House after their wedding last year.

 

The Aston Martin DB6 MKII owned by Prince Charles that was used by Prince William to drive his new wife from Buckingham Palace to Clarence House on 29th April 2011

Bonhams quote a pre-sale estimate of £50,000 to £70,000 for the dark green Aston Martin Virage Volante. It will be auctioned at the Aston Martin Works Service at Newport Pagnell on 19th May 2012.

 

Prince Charles once said: “I’d rather go by bus.” I feel rather differently: I’d rather take this Aston any day.

 

For more information on the sale of the 1994 Aston Martin Virage Volante used by Prince Charles, contact Bonhams on +44 (0) 20 7468 5801 or email ukcars@bonhams.com. View details of the sale at: http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20142

 

Follow Bonhams on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/bonhams1793

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Friday, April 27

Nick & Christian Candy

Started a property empire with a loan of £6,000 from their grandmother in 1995. Now said to be worth anything upto £13 billion, this pair are most famous for their One Hyde Park development next to The Mandarin Oriental. London based Nick is married to the Australian singer and former Neighbours actress Holly Valance whilst Monaco based Christian is married to a former “It-girl” named Emily Crompton. In one interview Nick was quoted as saying: “We’ve probably got about 10 cars”. With this much wealth, what’s a car between friends?

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Rupert Murdoch

This father of six is a media mogul who doesn’t back down. Faced with being labeled the prime culprit in the phone hacking debacle, he battles on. His second wife Wendi packs a mean left hook.

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Aliona Adrianova

Hailing from Ukraine, Adrianova is making her mark photographing the likes of Steven Berkoff, Barbara Minto, Basia Briggs, Arfi Lamba, Gina Miller, Aita Ighodaro and Drummond Money-Coutts. An exhibition at Linley in Mayfair in October 2012 was a mammoth success. Be sure to book her now as this awareness of this talented lady is spreading like wildfire.

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Alexander Mavros

The eldest of four brothers, Alex is a scion of the oldest family in Zimbabwe. His family’s business creates masterpieces in silver, gold and leather and brings the mystique of Africa to the West. Their patrons include HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, Denzel Washington and J. K. Rowling.

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Edward Rigg

This former filmmaker came up with his own cloudy apple juice. Cheltenham College educated, Edward Rigg has since expanded into a whole range of juices under the brand name Eager and once even also tried to revitalise bingo.

 

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Trenton Oldfield

He swam into the path of the Oxford vessel in the 2012 Xchanging Boat Race. Oldfield claimed to be protesting about “elitism” but it transpired that he was himself educated at a private school and the LSE. His hypocrisy knows no bounds and thankfully he ended up in the clink.

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Heather Mills (formerly known as Heather Mills-McCartney & Lady McCartney)

This Geordie Vegan campaigner got some £24 million in her divorce from Sir Paul McCartney. She’s continued to cause trouble ever since.

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Sir Christopher & Lady Meyer

They love the media circuit and television sofas. He’s best known for wearing red socks and she generally sports Chanel. There’s not much more to say really.

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Samantha Brick

A freelance writer who declared herself to be “beautiful” in a piece for the Daily Mail. Their readership soared whilst she made an utter mockery of herself. Goodness knows what nonsense she’ll spout next.

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Sally Bercow

Opinionated Tweeter who happens to be married to the Speaker of the Commons. She’s hung out with gypsies and camped in the Celebrity Big Brother house. She particularly loves baiting Tories and being photographed wrapped in nothing other than a towel. Most people, thankfully, just ignore her.

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You’ve got the sun, the moon and a chief of a Pontiac

The sale of a Pontiac Chieftan previously owned by both Keith Richards and a husband of a survivor of the 1912 Titanic disaster

 

In 1971, the “mad, bad and dangerous to know” musician Keith Richards decided to go into tax exile at a house named the Villa Nellcôte at Villefranche-sur-Mer in France to avoid having his assets seized by the British government. It was here, in the basement, that The Rolling Stones recorded much of their album “Exile on Main St” whilst enjoying what has been described as: “the coolest, most drugged-up house party ever.”

 

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards (1943 – )


 

The Villa Nellcôte is a 19th-century Côte d’Azur mansion brimming with history. Originally named the Chateau Amicitia, the villa was built in 1854 for a businessman named Eugene Thomas. Bought by Count Ernst de Brulatour, the first secretary of the American embassy in France, in 1904, it was then sold to Samuel Goldenberg, a director of the Goldenberg Brothers & Co. lace importing business and a survivor of the 1912 Titanic disaster.

 

Titanic survivor Samuel L. Goldenberg (1864 – 1936). Goldenberg’s 3ft tall canvas carry-all bag was the only piece of luggage saved in the disaster.

Nella Goldenberg (née Wiggins, 1872 – 1947), wife of Samuel L. Goldenberg. She also survived the Titanic disaster. The couple divorced in 1916.


 

Goldenberg, whose business was capitalised at a staggering $1,500,000 in 1912, and his wife Nella’s passion were the dogs that they bred. In 1902, they had discovered an especially unusual bulldog that they imported to France. This dog, Ch. Nellcôte Gamin, is credited with being the scion of French bulldogs. In the dog’s honour, the Goldenbergs renamed the Chateau Amicitia the Villa Nellcôte.

 

The Villa Nellcôte, Villefranche-sur-Mer


 

In 1921, the estate was purchased by Alexandre Bordes, the founder of a shipping company specialising in the transit of nitrate solder between Chile and France. From their travels, he and his brother also bought back numerous exotic trees and planted them in the parkland around the villa. An avenue of trees leading to the house is named the Avenue Louise-Bordes in honour of Bordes’ wife.

 
During the Second World War, the Villa Nellcôte was seized by the Gestapo. Swastikas were painted on the heating vents in the cellars and it was later here during the Rolling Stones occupation that Mick Taylor is said to have co-written “Ventilator Blues.”
 

The Rolling Stones in exile at the Villa Nellcôte, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

The Rolling Stones dining at the Villa Nellcôte, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France


 

Richards paid $2,500 a month to rent the house but did not exercise an option to buy. He lived there with Anita Pallenberg and their son Marlon from April to November 1971 and continued to rent it for a year after he left. Visitors are said to have included Atlantic Records executive Marshall Chess, the sax player Bobby Keys, the Rolling Stone journalist Robert Greenfield and Stash Klossowski, son of the painter Balthus. Absinthe and drugs flowed freely and the elegant villa is said to have looked more like a squat by the time the Stones departed.

 

Of his time in this impressive house, which is now owned by a Russian and said to be worth in excess of £100,000,000, Keith Richards commented:

 

“Upstairs, it was fantastic – like Versailles… But down there… it was Dante’s Inferno.”

During his time at the Villa Nellcôte, Richards purchased a 1950 Pontiac Chieftan ‘Silver Streak’ convertible to ferry him and his entourage around.

 

The 1950 Pontiac Chieftan ‘Silver Streak’ convertible, chasis number P8TH 83630, that was previously owned by Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones.

An image of The Rolling Stones pictured with the car

A second image of the car during the period The Rolling Stones used it whilst at in exile at The Villa Nellcôte


 

Well documented in photographs from the time, this 4.4 litre vehicle had originally been purchased new for $2,190 by an American academic and Advisor to the Ministry of Finance of China named William Forsythe Sherfesee. Sherfesee lived nearby at the Villa Bontoc, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and was a neighbour and friend of the writer Somerset Maughan. His wife, Emily Ryerson, was another survivor of the Titanic disaster and the tale of his 9,000-mile dash to marry her in 1927 makes for most fascinating reading.

 

William Forsythe Sherfesee (1882 – 1965) pictured with his wife Emily Ryerson (1863 – 1939) prior to their marriage in 1927. Ryerson’s first husband, a wealthy steel merchant, perished on the Titanic and she subsequently met Sherfesee in Peking.


 

Complete with documentation showing the ownerships of both Sherfesee and Richards, who himself retained the car until 1985, Bonhams are to offer this historic Pontiac at an auction on 30th April at The RAF Museum, Hendon, London, NW9. A guide price of just £18,000 to £22,000 is quoted for this piece of rock legend.

 

As Keith Richards once said: “You’ve got the sun, you’ve got the moon, and you’ve got the Rolling Stones.” Now, whoever buys this Pontiac will get a hell of a load more.

 

For more information on the 1950 Pontiac Chieftan ‘Silver Streak,’ contact John Polson of Bonhams on +44 (0) 20 7468 5803 or email him at john.polson@bonhams.com. View more details and photographs at: http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20141/lot/344/?page_anchor=MR1_results_per_page%3D500%26MR1_module_instance_reference%3D1

 

Read an account of William Forsythe Sherfesee’s 9,000 mile alter dash to marry Emily Ryerson at: http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/chicago-widow-sends-plane-gale-delays-9000-mile-race-altar.html

 

View the official website of Keith Richards at: http://www.keithrichards.com. Follow him on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/officialKeef

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Henry Deedes

Grandson of the late Lord “Bill” Deedes, inspiration for William Boot in Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop! This columnist for the Daily Mail has the driest of wits and is particularly anti Chelsea tractors.

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Rebekah Brooks

The youngest editor of a British national newspaper and a former wife of Eastender Ross Kemp. Educated in Warrington but now more likely to be found enjoying a day trip on a private jet to Venice. A true survivor who should not yet be written off.

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Ellen Widdup (Ellen Porritt)

Alerted the world to the story of Julia Cross and writes brilliantly about all manner of matters for the Daily Mail and Evening Standard. Addicted to chocolate, white wine and especially peanut butter. It must, however, come straight from the jar.

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Katie Price (AKA Katie Hayler, Katie Reid, Katie Andre, Katie Infield and Jordan)

This glamour model is to be commended for having made a fortune. Her taste in men and cars however is utterly lacking. Her pink Range Rover is perhaps symbolic of all that is wrong about her.

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Michael & Jean O’Shea

Michael and Jean O’Shea scooped £10,200,000 in the  EuroMillions Lottery in 2005 yet still get a Motability car every three years and £500 a month in disability benefits. In answer to their critics, all Mr O’Shea could say was: “We’re entitled to it”. We, equally, are entitled to criticise. Shame on this grasping pair.

 

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Charlie Gilkes

Eton educated Gilkes is a club-trepreneur who has made waves in Chelsea and Battersea. He also appeared in The Iron Lady and launched an Italian pizzeria and karaoke bar named Bunga Bunga with a performance by the X Factor star Wagner.

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Paris Hilton

The great granddaughter of the founder of Hilton Hotels is best known for her phrase: “That’s hot” and a sex tape but she’s the one having the last laugh. She’s only in her early 30s but already worth $100 million.

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Basia Briggs

A truly good egg. Owner of the Hyde Park Stables and always spotted at the best parties. Superbly knowledgeable about London history and the daughter of Polish aristocrats, Briggs was once affectionately referred to as a “Poliwog” by an equerry to Prince Michael of Kent. She paid £6,000 for the Union Jack egg by Mark Shand, founder of the Elephant Family, and knows the history of every statue and monument in London.

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Jacqueline Branston

Former model and society hostess who is now turning her hand to helping wealthy Chinese and Russians settle into London. “Jackie” briefly dated both Warren Beatty and George Hamilton. She’s a big fan of a late night toasted cheese sandwich at Annabel’s and can be found at the smartest of gatherings.

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Anthony Brown

Former restaurateur whose family are city legends. His pride and joy is a classic Mercedes-Benz Grosser and he’s often to be found propping up the bar at La Brasserie teaching Cockney rhyming slang. A maestro in the kitchen, feasts by him are hugely sought after.

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Marisa Masters

This septuagenarian hails from Barri, Italy and was married to one of the founders of Haymarket Publishing. She once won a sports car in a raffle at Harrods and when presented with it replied: “What is a Porsche?” She gave the vehicle back soon after. Don’t get her started on what she thinks about the royals but watch out, if Michael Jackson comes on the stereo, she’ll be dancing on the table.

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Iris Apfel

Jimmy Choo named a shoe after her and eyebobs collaborated with her to launch the “Iris” in January 2012. This nanogenarian businesswoman, interior designer and fashion icon also worked for nine presidents at The White House: Truman, Eisenhowever, Nixon, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Reagan and Clinton.

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Neil & Christine Hamilton

Eternally cheerful survivors. They’re amongst the few who’ve beaten both Max Clifford and speed cameras. No one ever guesses what they’ll do next.

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Daniel “Dan” O’Connor

He first came to prominence as Ned Parker in Neighbours and since 2012 has been in teen drama Hollyoaks. O’Connor has also worked as a graphic designer and in typical Aussie fashion, once shared a 3-bedroom flat with 7 others.

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John Stoddart

John StoddartA Liverpudlian who moved from shooting with guns whilst in The Grenadier Guards to snapping the best-known personalities. Always kitted out in the finest garb, Whitstable based John Stoddart is particularly partial to a stiff G&T at 12 noon. His subjects have variously included Tony and Cherie Blair, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Martin Scorsese, Catherine Zeta-Jones and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.

 

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Edward “Ed” Waites

Land Rover driving animal sculptor based in Newmarket who also greatly enjoys rugby. His works can be found in various royal collections and other patrons include Lady Bamford and Ivan Massow.

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Saturday, April 28

Lord & Lady Black (Conrad Black & Barbara Amiel)

She’s a British-Canadian journalist most famous for having an “extravagance that knows no bounds.” He was a media baron who denounced his Canadian citizenship to become a British peer. Life began to unravel in 2005 when he was charged and subsequently convicted on various charges of defrauding Hollinger, the company he led. “Citizen Black” got out of jail a year early and now he and his feisty Manolo wearing sidekick are back on the rampage. Watch out.

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Andrew Davis

He was labeled “Baron Von Essen” but evidence of his pedigree failed to surface. Starting in 1990, this buccaneer built up a collection of 26 luxury hotels but the £300m empire, developed with loans from bankers who plainly asked very few questions, collapsed in 2011. Since then, instead of quietly going to ground, he’s bought a Rolls-Royce from his friend Michael Winner and appeared at quite a few parties. Watch out: “The Talented Mr Davis” is plainly plotting his next move.

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Nicko Williamson

Bristol educated Nicko Williamson is an entrepreneur who launched Climatecars at the age of 23. His grandfather won the Isle of Man TT in 1908 and his fleet of Toyota Prius taxis are now taking over our streets. He’s a bit of a foodie himself and also plans to open a restaurant one day.

 

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Lyndon Ogbourne

He was Emmerdale’s number one bad boy for several years but with the help of his agents at Curtis Brown, his career is stepping up a gear.  He’s also appeared in Spooks and Doctors and is well known for cooking up a pretty mean brunch.

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Thomas James

Thomas JamesKnown to his friends as T.J., this trendsetting youngster blogs about Palm Beach, The Hamptons and style. Thomas James is often to be spotted enjoying either of his favourite dishes: figs with goat’s cheese or Ladurée macarons or sporting the latest preppy garments in America’s hotspots.

 

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Priscilla Pollara

A foodie whose pieces on doggy bags and restaurants that don’t play music educate us all. Formerly a diary correspondent on the Evening Standard and the Daily Mail, Priscilla Pollara jets here, there and everywhere with the greatest panache.

 

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Hakim Berkani

A former parking warden who was probably the only decent one out there. He refused to behave like his grasping colleagues in Kensington & Chelsea (who referred to themselves as “Ali Baba and his 40 thieves”) and got constructively dismissed as a result. He rightly got £20,000 in compensation at an industrial tribunal but decently commented: “’I’m very disappointed because I believe that justice has not been done. My job was worth more to me than any amount of money.”

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Kathy Lette

This Australian author has written books and plays that have included Puberty Blues, Mad Cows and How to Kill your Husband (and other handy household hints).  Married to the human rights champion Geoffrey Robertson QC, Lette wore a dress covered in images of corgis when she met HM The Queen and describes herself as a “Deranged Author” on Twitter. Follow her and you’ll have a laugh a minute.

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Nigel Farage MEP

A former broker who has survived a plane crash and taken on the European Commission. He’s onto his second stint as leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and has penned a set of memoirs named “Fighting Bull.” Farage thinks that: “Politics need a bit of spicing up.” He’s certainly making good progress to date.

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Lizo Mzimba

As the presenter of CBBC’s Newsround for ten years from 1998 to 2008, he became a favourite of children throughout the land. As the Entertainment Correspondent for BBC News, now, and in between jetting around the globe in search of celebrity news, he’s often to be found enjoying a tipple or two at Bart’s, Maggie’s or Bunga-Bunga. His fan club brims aplenty.

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Panagiotis “Taki” Theodoracopulos

A Spectator columnist since 1977, this controversial Greek-born journalist and socialite most definitely enjoys the “High Life.” He’s a judo champion and thinks nothing of criticising the Israeli government and mocking Princess Michael of Kent. Don’t get him started on Libya or Tony Blair. The titles of two of his books give much away about his character: Princes, Playboys & High-Class Tarts (1984) and Nothing to Declare (1992).

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Cara Delevingne

Having followed in the footsteps of her sister, Poppy, into a career in modeling, this Burberry muse became one of the hottest commodities of 2012. She describes herself as a “professional human being” on Twitter and “likes eyebrows and playing the drums”. She had a small part in the 2012 film adaptation of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.

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Melinda Hughes

She sings about celebrities, the credit crunch and carbon footprints and has appeared on Radio 4 with Barry Humphries. She filmed a video about “Fred the Shred getting in over [his] head” at the Brompton Bar & Grill and though Mr Goodwin may have lost his knighthood, Miss Hughes’ star is definitely on the ascent. Listen out for her at The Arts Club, The Chelsea Arts Club and at private parties throughout the land.

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Stephanie Mack (also known as Stephanie Madoff and Stephanie Madoff Mack)

Daughter-in-law of Bernard and Ruth Madoff. Her husband, Mark, tragically committed suicide after the Ponzi scheme was revealed. Instead of retaining an ounce of dignity, this shameless woman has featured in a photoshoot for Harper’s Bazaar and written a book titled The End of Normal. It’s a pity she couldn’t keep quiet out of consideration for Bernie’s other victims.

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Mary Quant OBE FSCD

The creator of the miniskirt, hot pants and most intriguingly duvet covers. This diminutive fashion designer also designed the interior of the Mini Quant back in 1988 but is now most likely to be spotted in La Brasserie in Brompton Cross.

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Henrik Fisker

Danish creator of the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Aston Martin DB9, Shelby GR1 concept and BMW Z8 Roadster. His latest visionary output is the Fisker Karma, an eco friendly luxury sedan that is simply stunning. Quite rightly he’s been described as: “The greatest living car designer.”

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Arkady Novikov

Mr Novikov controls over 50 restaurants in Moscow but doesn’t have an office. He started out with a loan of $50,000 from a Soviet cooperative after being turned down for a job at McDonalds. He now also owns supermarkets, cinemas and florists and is dubbed the “blini baron.” Aside from his 7,000-person empire, he owns the £26m Villa Fontanelle on Lake Como and is said to be especially partial to bread, black cherries and apricots.

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Julian Fellowes (The Lord Fellowes of West Stafford DL, also known as Julian Kitchener-Fellowes)

English actor, novelist, film director and screenwriter. His career pottered along until he won an Oscar for Gosford Park in 2002. Subsequent success came with Downton Abbey in 2011 but his personal obsession with the Titanic disaster resulted in an iceberg of a flop with a 2012 ITV mini-series on the subject. Parties at Stafford House, his pile in Dorset, are noted for simple suppers and a lack of heating but it is his wife, Emma, who is truly renowned for the turbans that she sports.

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Bernard “Bernie” & Ruth Madoff

To the world it seemed they had it all. This pair put themselves into a position where anyone who questioned their stature was presented as ludicrous, but boy did their house of cards come crashing down. Ponzi schemer Bernie is now in the clink for 150 years for the largest financial fraud in US history whilst his wife moved to a house in Old Greenwich, New York provided by their son Andy in March 2012. How the mighty fall.

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Sidney Frank (1919 – 2006)

A self-made billionaire, Frank was the Hugh Heffner of the booze industry. He had major successes with both Jägermeister and Grey Goose vodka. A personal profit of $1.6 billion from the sale of the latter allowed him to become philanthropic and especially eccentric. In his final years he conducted most of his business deals from bed whilst smoking custom made Davdoff cigars. He died on his private plane in 2006 but will be remembered as the man who changed vodka.

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Robert Maxwell (1923 – 1991)

“The Bouncing Czech” was variously an MP, a spy and a media mogul. Before his empire collapsed he stated: “You are as safe with me as you would be in the Bank of England.” He was a notoriously bad tempered beast of a man and in death he remains as large and as colourful as he was alive. Various theories can be found on the internet about him being killed by Mossad, working in a fish and chip shop in Huddersfield and hanging out with Shergar the racehorse. Thankfully, instead, he’s safely been laid to rest on the Mount of Olives.

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Nadine Milroy-Sloan (AKA “Emily Checksfield”, née Nadine Checksfield)

Nadine Milroy SloanA fantasist of the first order, Nadine Milroy-Sloan invented a tale of being raped by Neil and Christine Hamilton and sold her story to a national newspaper with the help of the since convicted sexual abuser Max Clifford. She went to jail in 2003 and then thankfully faded into obscurity. In September 2014, this lunatic sadly reappeared in the media when she was jailed for four years for telling police that her boyfriend had attacked her with a samuari sword. Her story should be a lesson to those who tell lies: eventually you get caught.

 

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Mario Falcone

He’s a harmless sort but like most who go on reality television, he takes “fame” a little seriously. This The Only Way is Essex (TOWIE) “star” likes to share revelations such as his best feature being his lips, how he’d like to trade places with HM The Queen, having slept with 5 women in a night and being on the verge of buying a £5.2 million Sunseeker yacht a little too freely. Oddly enough we’re yet to see this 20-something year old on a boat even a third of the size of Brenda’s.

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Ohad Maiman

Born in Israel, Maiman served in the Israel Defense Forces for 3 years but it is photography that is his true passion. This New Yorker has exhibited in collaboration with Richard Young and Stephen Webster and his continuing journey will no doubt be utterly fascinating.

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Kipton Cronkite

A truly social figure in New York, Cronkite has had to endure more than his fair share of gossip. This former banker has been aiding emerging artists through his e-commerce websites since 2005 and has truly changed the way artists and collectors interact. KiptonART was renamed @60” in June 2012 after going into business with Christian Simonds, a lawyer with a creative eye.

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Lord Lucan (also known as Richard John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan)

“Lucky,” as he was known to his friends, was a man whose luck ran out on the 8th November 1974. A prolific gambler, Lord Lucan disappeared following the killing of his children’s nanny and he was subsequently declared legally dead in October 1999. Conspiracy theories as to his supposed whereabouts continue to this day. Amongst the most ludicrous are that Arnold Schwarzenegger murdered him and that he’s hiding out in Kenya. This is a mystery that is unlikely ever to be solved.

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Umberto Scomparin

You won’t meet a maître d’ like him. Scomparin does a mean Liverpudlian impression and following a stint at the now defunct Ilia, he’s moving on to pastures new. An evening in his company is always going to be jolly.

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Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras

The “David Beckham of polo” has been a model for Ralph Lauren since 2000. Born in Buenos Aires, Figueras is one of the world’s top 100 polo players and regularly tops lists of the world’s most handsome men. He gave evidence on behalf of his friend John Goodman, heir to the Goodman Manufacturing fortune, in March 2012 at his trial for manslaughter and is married with 3 children.

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Robert Konjic

This Swedish gent fitted engines for Volvo and was a cocktail waiter before being discovered by Gucci. Continue reading

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Sunday, April 29

The Duchess of Cambridge (formerly known as Kate Middleton)

With panache she’s changed perceptions of royalty. Her rise has been meteoric and she has handled herself perfectly. She is stylishly chic and the perfect ambassador for any fashion brand.

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Joseph Ettedgui (1936 – 2010)

Founder of the Joseph fashion label. He revolutionised knitwear and sold his company for £140 million in 2005. His Jay Gatsby-esque look was always resplete with a smile and a cigarillo. Joseph is greatly missed.

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