Magazine article The Spectator

High Life

Magazine article The Spectator

High Life

Article excerpt


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, with a 24-hour non-stop snowfall, an empty main street, and the closing of the Palace hotel as well as of the Eagle club. (I give the traditional closing-day speech at the club, and this year's was judged to have been politically incorrect. ) The older I get the more I like it off season, the toadies and parasites of the truly rich having followed their masters to places like St Barts or the Bahamas. Tarts, pimps, art dealers, jewellery salesmen, real-estate sharks, you name them, we've got them. During the season, that is. One disgusting little man of Lebanese-Israeli origin even managed to infiltrate my backgammon game and passed his catalogue around. It's a sad day when one can't even relax over backgammon without a Japanese-made Modigliani being shoved in front of one. There are also some magnificent unsigned Picassos and some extremely rare ones spelled with one 's'.

New money needs new art, and there's a lot of the former around. The Saudi who built a chalet and had his family tree carved on the outside applied for the Eagle and I put my foot down. 'But you don't know him, ' said the charming female secretary at the door. 'He's very nice.' That's the whole point, I said to her, I don't wish to know him and if you do let him come in on a season pass I insist he wear western clothes. 'If this gets out, ' said the charming secretary, 'they'll be after you, trust me.' I told her not to worry, that I would include it in my column so there will be no mix-up.

What is amazing is how scared people are to discriminate. The whole point of a club is to keep people who like each other in, and those who they don't like out. I like people who have good manners, who are sporty and who can tell the difference between a fraud such as Freud and a De Stael. Speaking of Freud, that fat old queen John Richardson put out some story about Freud tripping me in some restaurant, but it's simply not true.

I get foot-swept non-stop in judo, so an old fraud like Freud is hardly the type to trip me and make me fall. (When he was alive and kicking, that is. ) But it's a fun story: good guy Freud makes bad guy Taki fall down.

Lucian Freud is always called great by art dealers, critics and hacks who don't know any better. A true great, Paul Johnson, once explained to me how the bum disguised his artistic flaws by pouring the paint on ugly and contorted female nudes and even uglier male pachyderms. …

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