Kevin's London Beauties; as Kevin Spacey Recovers from His Encounter in a Park - and Launches His New Old Vic Season - We Reveal the Socialite Power Brokers Who Have Helped Him Become Part of London Society

The Evening Standard (London, England), April 22, 2004 | Go to article overview

Kevin's London Beauties; as Kevin Spacey Recovers from His Encounter in a Park - and Launches His New Old Vic Season - We Reveal the Socialite Power Brokers Who Have Helped Him Become Part of London Society


Byline: PAUL PALMER

IN a suitably ironic twist, Kevin Spacey's converted apartment block on the south bank of the Thames once housed spies from MI5 in the Cold War era: rather appropriate, you might think, for a renowned Hollywood star who himself leads an invisible, even pathologically low-key, existence in London.

Spacey, I am told, doesn't entertain much at his [pounds sterling]1 million three-bedroomed duplex, with its open-plan kitchen, cathedral-high dining room ("Which doesn't look as if anyone's actually sat around the table," one friend said) and two expansive balconies with hypnotic views of St Paul's and the City. At night, Spacey plays a game with himself of learning by rote the landmarks he can see from across the Thames. "But few of his closest friends have even set foot in the flat," one social acquaintance maintained yesterday.

"Kevin is that discreet."

It is a studied privacy that was cruelly, and not a touch laughably, demolished this week. Spacey, 45, was notoriously involved in a violent incident in the early hours of Saturday night at a park near his home. The Oscar-winning star, who is living in London in his role as artistic director of the Old Vic theatre in nearby Waterloo, was walking his dog at 4.30am when he was, depending on which version you believe, either mugged by a youth or, in Spacey's amended version, robbed of his mobile phone when he charitably but foolishly allowed the youth to make a call on it.

However embarrassing, and curious, the incident - and today Spacey faces a rumbustious press conference at the Old Vic - what has not been written is how the American Beauty star can be assured of one thing: the support and patronage of four very powerful and well-connected women in London, his own social and professional "harem". They include a royal princess, a New Labour groupie, an American friend of presidents and statesmen, and an English socialite whose lifestyle, and support, Spacey has enjoyed for years.

They are relationships which have, behind closed doors, established Spacey as what one leading London hostess described to me this week "a prize dinnerparty catch". In the fallout from his current PR difficulties, it is to this very canape-support-network that Spacey is now turning in his hour of need.

At its heart is the intriguing figure of art historian Sarah St George, a lifelong friend of Spacey's. She is the daughter of As Kevin Spacey recovers from his encounter in a park - and launches his new Old Vic season - we reveal the socialite power brokers who have helped him become part of London society Edward St George, the multimillionaire racehorse owner and industrialist whose third wife, Lady Henrietta, is a daughter of the Duke of Grafton. Sarah, who is in her late forties, is a publicity-shy but prominent social figure in London and the Bahamas, where her family have a sprawling estate.

It is through her, say friends, that Spacey's love affair with Britain and London first began. "Sarah is almost like Kevin's sister," a friend told me yesterday.

"When he was a penniless actor, she was the one who supported him, encouraged him and helped him become what he is today. He fell in love with everything that was "posh" about Britain because of Sarah. Don't forget: when she first knew him, he was a boy out of nowhere."

This beguiling pair - both of whom are unmarried but enjoy a strictly platonic relationship - first met in New York more than 20 years ago when Spacey had finished at the Juilliard acting school in Manhattan. Sarah was part of the arty crowd in New York at the time and the pair instantly hit it off. "Kevin literally slept on the floor of her apartment," the friend went on, "because he was that broke."

SUCH is Sarah's closeness to Spacey, I can reveal, that she defended him against tirades from her father, a blunt man who takes no prisoners: in one incident which Sarah enjoys retelling to her friends, Spacey once borrowed her father's treasured overcoat from the New York apartment on a bitter winter's day. …

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