Magazine article The Spectator

High Life: Taki

Magazine article The Spectator

High Life: Taki

Article excerpt

Gstaad

New Year's Eve was a Rhapsody in Blue , with a clarinet glissando that promised joys to come, and the Gershwin downbeat not registering until 6 a.m. The hangover was, of course, Karamazovian, but who the hell cares. I am finally solid again, and even the flu I caught on the trip over is on its last legs, lingering and as annoying as EU regulations, but no longer to be taken seriously. I had lots of close friends for dinner, but the new chalet was packed by the time I began slurring.

Mind you, it's during dreamlike moments such as those between midnight and dawn that wisdom strikes: there is something very wrong with people's values around these parts. For example, I sold my much too large chalet and bought a farm just outside the alpine village's limits. On it I built a chalet that I think is the most beautiful in the area. The mother of my children and my daughter have done a fantastic job, turning the chalet on top of a mountain into a jewel of light, wood and sunny terraces. So when I say there's something wrong with the way people think, I mean the prices. I left the hill where the Palace Hotel is located, which now resembles a West Bank settlement (of billionaires, but a settlement nevertheless), and was paid a certain sum by a wannabe. I paid far less for the farm and the subsequent building, and what is more, from my window I can see only endless green hills (there's no snow), grey mountains and three tiny wood-containing shacks.

Now I ask you, dear reader: would you pay more for the ability to hear your neighbour performing his morning's ablutions, or doing something more smelly, or for being the sole human on top of a hill with only an occasional deer arriving uninvited? Nine out of ten new arrivals in Gstaad choose the former. A vacuous Canadian asshole billionaire has built a double mega chalet down from where I used to live so that he can have views of the parking lot of the Palace Hotel.

So now we have the old guard, people such as Dame Vivien Duffield, Aliki Goulandris, and poor little me, garlanding the village of Gstaad with good taste, while the nouveaux struggle to outdo each other inside a cauldron that at times resembles Stalingrad. The only two exceptions are Mick Flick and Peter Livanos, both of whom had the foresight to buy at the top of the Oberbort hill long ago and now enjoy watching the rich plebs squeezing the hell out of each other below.

What is it that makes people successful on the one hand, but make such fools of themselves on the other? …

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