August 05 2011
My style icon is Michael Chow. I met him over 10 years ago. For me, the restaurant Mr Chow here in London, which has been in existence for more than 40 years, still looks amazingly modern and stylish. Mr Chow has the run of a completely insane house in Beverly Hills – thousands of square feet – but the detailing is beautiful, such a grand gesture. On the other hand, Mr Chow, London is timeless. His sense of style is inherent, as opposed to something that was taught.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could? If I had a choice, and if I could afford anything..? I have always wanted a Goya. I collect contemporary art, but I think a Goya is just something extraordinary, with a great deal of beauty. He created probably some of the more tormented, sinister, sad paintings. For a while I was hunting for a sketch by him, but I never found one.
My favourite room is my internal terrace, which was recently designed by the landscape architect Fernando Gonzalez. I love my apartment, which has many fabulous rooms, but what I most enjoy on a warm summer’s evening is spending time on this terrace watching the changing colours of my James Turrell installation and reflecting on the day’s events. www.metagardens.co.uk.
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I would choose the Porte de Clignancourt in Paris. It’s certainly the one where I have the most fun; I am intrigued by the flea market surrounding it. I buy things from there all the time. It might be a lamp, it might be a desk. I have a tiger upstairs that I bought there. He was killed in 1898. www.marchesauxpuces.fr.
The last meal that truly impressed me? I always love Mark Edwards’ food at Nobu on Park Lane. I would say that the last great meal I had was there. I particularly love the yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño, the toro tartar with caviar and the sashimi salad with Matsuhisa dressing, not forgetting their own version of the Peruvian tiradito. It’s such an interesting mix of flavours and textures, and yet healthy at the same time. 19 Old Park Lane, London W1 (020-7447 4747; www.noburestaurants.com).
An object I would never part with is my iPhone. I feel very naked without it. I am not happy with this dependency, because there was a life before mobile phones, and I lived that life, but I think right now connectivity has become essential.
The site that inspires me is probably St Pancras. The reason I bought St Pancras was that it was this incredibly beautiful, historical, landmark building. And when I was given the opportunity to become involved in the development, I was tremendously excited, but then I went through a rocky period and the costs escalated. What kept me going was Sir George Gilbert Scott [the original architect], with his fine eye for detail. It became a labour of commitment and love and, occasionally, incredible frustration. I do really feel – maybe because of the challenges I had to go through – that it is an outstanding building. When people come inside the lobby, they smile with awe, because sometimes the interiors of buildings do not live up to the façades, but here all of it has a character and individuality that I think is really important. To me, Gilbert Scott was thinking with St Pancras, “How mad can I go, how much can I do but still keep the cohesion?”
The grooming staple I am never without is my Oral-B electric toothbrush. www.oralb.com.
The last thing I bought and loved was a painting I acquired recently at an auction at Shannon’s in Connecticut, by artist Gerald Laing. He was a contemporary of Robert Rauschenberg and in the 1960s he was a really great name, one of the few non-Americans to be shown at the Whitney Museum. I bought a painting of Jean Harlow, the wonderful actress, this platinum blonde, and have placed her at the entrance to the St Pancras Hotel – the guardian of St Pancras. Shannon’s Fine Art Auctioneers, 354 Woodmont Road, Milford, Connecticut 06460 (+1203-877 1711; www.shannons.com).
An indulgence I would never forego is skiing. I rent a chalet – nothing very glamorous – in Courchevel for the season. London in the winter is particularly depressing, but when it arrives I’m quite elated because I know I’m going to be away from Thursday evening to Sunday evening. I love skiing and being in the mountains; I love the kinds of friendship that develop in this very relaxed atmosphere.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a Talmudic scholar. Many years ago, I had a friend who was a palm reader; and when she looked at my palm she was a bit confused, because she knew I was in property. She said, “But it looks like you are an academic.” When I was younger I studied the Talmud, the Jewish holy book, and I really enjoyed it. Not so much for the religious element, but the intellectual questioning.