IT WAS like the Marie Celeste when Luca Del Bono first looked round 50 St James’s: the tables in the restaurant were still laid for dinner and the staff uniforms were still hanging on their hooks in the hall.
That’s what happens when you abandon ship so abruptly – as the site’s previous owner, the Planet Hollywood owner Robert Earl, did in 2009 when he ran the premises as the casino Fifty in partnership with London Clubs International.
In “the interests of the company’s creditors”, as a statement from the joint venture read at the time, Fifty finally filed for administration in November 2009, and the historic site – and its gambling licence – have remained dormant ever since.
So it is perhaps no surprise that new owner Del Bono, who has just secured planning permission to change the casino into a private members’ club with a 14-room boutique hotel and a restaurant, has not bothered to renew the premises’ gambling licence.
Instead, the existing gaming room will be turned into a breakfast, tea and drawing room, seating 300 when building starts next February on the retreat that will rival gentlemen’s clubs White’s, directly opposite, and Brooks’s and Boodles down the road.
Del Bono’s Opus Holdings has made one concession to Westminster Council, however – the members’ roof terrace has been scrapped, over concerns the proposed materials for the Grade II-listed building were “incongruous in their context”. “The physical alterations are now confined to the internal spaces of the property,” assures Opus.
CAUSE AND FX
NO-ONE doubts that Schneider Foreign Exchange is a fun place to work.
But the opportunities created by the volatility in the currency markets have proved too tempting for three of the company’s senior traders Harry Adams, Carl Jani and Andrew Egan, who have left as a unit to start a new venture backed by “a well-known City firm” – either an investment bank or a broker currently without an FX business.
All will be announced to the City next April; until then, Adams is making the most of his non-compete period by taking off to South America. “Because we won’t be taking much holiday after that.”
IT WAS only a matter of time: the European Central Bank has launched an iPad version of its €conomia game that spells out exactly how monetary policy works.
“Ever wondered how key interest rates affect inflation?” says the gimmick making financial meltdown fun, which may or may not have been designed with the top economic brains of Italy and Greece in mind. At least they can afford it: the app is free to download.
ON HOME TURF
HE SPENT a night in a rat-infested cave on the reality show I’m A Celebrity before being kicked out of the jungle last Thursday. And now ex-jockey Willie Carson (left) is back on home turf as Epsom Downs Racecourse announces that the four-times Derby winner will be guest of honour at the 2012 Investec Derby Festival.
“Nobody knows the Derby better than Carson,” said Epsom Downs chairman Anthony Cane. Except the Queen, possibly, whose horse Dunfermline was ridden to victory in the Oaks by Carson in her majesty’s silver jubilee year in 1977.