Magazine article The Spectator

Blenheim Bash

Magazine article The Spectator

Blenheim Bash

Article excerpt

My friend George Livanos is to Greek ship-owners what Erwin Rommel was to tank commanders. Last Saturday he and his wife, Lita, threw a bash at Blenheim Palace that would have had Emerald Cunard drooling with envy. It was definitely among the great parties of the Nineties - the Miller ball for Crown Prince Pavlos's wedding and Sir Evelyn Rothschild's do for his daughter are two that come to mind - my only regret being that yet again I drank a tiny bit too much fire-water to really appreciate the great scene and all the old friends who had gathered there.

But before I tell you about the blast, a few words about George Livanos. His father was the biggest ship-owner during the golden period of shipping. Mr Livanos was known for paying cash for his boats and for never owing a penny to any bank or individual. His eldest daughter, Eugenie, married Stavros Niarchos, while his second, Tina, married Aristotle Socrates Onassis. George was the youngest. His father died unexpectedly while George was still in his twenties, making him one of the richest men on earth.

The trouble was one would never know it. An old Texas expression for showy people without much behind their show is `Big hat, no cattle'. George has always had a hell of a lot of cattle but chooses to wear a very small hat. He and I attended the same university, although we both dropped out once we had tasted freedom in Paris and New York. For a while, George was among the world's most eligible bachelors and, being a red-blooded Greek, took full advantage of it. (Alas, he never even threw me a crumb from his leftovers.)

Then he married Lita, the mother of his five children, and has lived happily ever after. He got Lita rather early on. The story was she was 16. I suspect she was 15, maybe even 14, and she definitely looked 12. There is no more devoted a couple.

George and Lita have all the toys, the private island, the Gulfstream, the chopper and the boat, but mostly for entertaining their friends. They are very, very unspoilt and simple down-to-earth people. As are their children.

The reason for the ball was the wedding of Eugenie, George's second daughter, to Nicholas Clive-Worms, a Frenchman who heads his family-owned conglomerate. (Last summer I told Nicholas he was getting the best girl and he already owned the most beautiful boat whereas I had nothing, and Nicholas sighed and said, `Oh God, I can see the start of a column in The Spectator. …

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