THERE are nights out… and then there are nights out – and in case you need help making the distinction, there are worse people to ask than professional gambler Don Johnson, who blew £120,000 on the most expensive bottle of champagne ever sold in London at the OneForOne Club on Sunday.
Don’t let the fact that Johnson is a Bon Jovi fan put you off. The American card sharp can at least be applauded for turning up at the Park Lane venue with laser-focused ambition: to top the anonymous European businessman who paid £80,000 for a Nebuchadnezzar of champagne at the same club back in April.
As good as his word, Johnson ordered the Midas, a metallic gold-coated, 30-litre monster holding the equivalent of 40 bottles of Armand de Brignac champagne that the brand’s PR claims is “the biggest luxury bottle of champagne in existence”.
Not any more though, after Johnson, who is known in the States as “the champagne king”, sprayed some of the Midas around the club before dispensing the rest of its contents to every thirsty stranger within reach. “You could call everyone a friend that night,” a bystander told The Capitalist.
Just one more question: how on earth was Johnson able to afford to pay the equivalent of a deposit for a flat in service charges alone?
“By taking casinos in Atlantic City to the cleaners to the tune of $15m,” supplied the helpful mole. For which affront to the gambling establishments Johnson has, unsurprisingly, been barred.
PULLING NO PUNCHES
THREE ringside ladies were splattered with an ICAP broker’s blood (above) and a Russian banker was retired from the ring after sustaining a volley of punishing blows to the head – and this was only the warm-up.
Yes, the Russians were in town for the Real Fight Club bout at the Club’s gym on Curtain Road, led by Alexei Polyakov of Société Génerale, a rainmaker with a reputation for collecting Harley Davidsons and Soviet model girlfriends.
Polyakov flew from Moscow with six fellow bankers including Ural Metals’ chief executive Alexei Kiselev and Oleg Selivanov of Saving Bank “to have fun in good company”, but for their British counterparts it was business as usual, with corporate psychologist John “Cracker” McCormack on his nineteenth fight.
“Let’s put it this way,” said organiser Alan Lacey on the forerunner to the black-tie Fight Club bout in Kensington Town Hall on 25 November. “If there was a wall across the ring to symbolise a division between Western and Eastern Europe, it would have fallen brick by brick on the night – and not just under the power of the punches.”
BROWN IN TOWN
STANDARDS are slipping in the City, says BGC Partners’ new market commentator Louise Cooper, who has been “horrified” by the number of brown shoes she has spotted on the trading floor after starting at the broker last Monday.
Gone is the “never brown in town” era when “it was only our European friends who wore brown shoes, albeit often with a green suit”, noted Cooper, who replaces David Buik.
These days, as proved by close examination of the feet under the BGC desks, brown brogues are creeping in to the once-traditional broking community, even – the horror! – in suede. “How the City has changed,” laments Cooper.
Lucky then, that Buik – “a proper old-style broker” for whom brown work shoes are anathema – is staying on to maintain standards at BGC as a part-time consultant.