LAR readers will remember Tim Levy, the bold chief executive of alternative investment firm Future Capital Partners, who last month set off on a gruelling expedition to the Arctic with one of his best mates, hare-brained TV adventurer Bear Grylls.
Levy and Grylls – famed for his creepy crawly-eating escapades on Channel 4’s Born Survivor – headed off to the formerly frozen NorthWest Passage in order to raise awareness of the effects of climate change, completing the mission in a souped-up, oversized rubber dinghy.
But I hear that the spirited pair experienced more than they had ever dreamed of when they stumbled upon what could turn out to be a history-altering discovery – human bones, makeshift graves and scraps of clothing on a tiny frozen island.
The most likely explanation for the discovery, according to historians, is that it marks evidence of the last moments of famous Arctic explorer John Franklin, who disappeared in the Passage in 1845. The wreckage of his vessels have never been found, though the discovery by Levy and Grylls of the remains of large fires on their miniscule island suggest that Franklin and his crew may have resorted to burning their ship in desperation, in the hope that a search mission would see the smoke.
“That particular channel is only about 12 feet deep, so only boats with the flattest hulls can pass through it,” Levy tells me. “That means that the island would have seen virtually no human activity before we came across it in the inflatable boat. It’s a potentially momentous discovery.”
It’s quite a break from the old day job, at any rate.
What’s this, a Hollywood snub for US business mogul Donald Trump?
Trump was one of several business luminaries who were asked to film cameo appearances for the second Wall Street movie, “Money Never Sleeps”.
But despite the billionaire giving up his precious time in anticipation of stardom, the scene – in which Trump advises the film’s leading man Gordon Gekko (played by actor Michael Douglas) on a hairstyle when the pair end up sitting next to each other in the barber’s – has not made the cut for the final big screen version of the film.
“I only cut it because it was distracting,” director Oliver Stone tells the New York Post. “He was at the end of the movie and all of a sudden, ‘Hey, there’s Donald Trump!’ Structurally, I think we put him in too late...”
Trump fans needn’t despair, though – the scene is due to be left in when the film is eventually released on DVD.
The good times must be back, if the latest gimmick from American Express is anything to go by. The card firm has been in touch to let The Capitalist know about a putting green it will be installing at Canary Wharf later this month – with the surface lined entirely with almost half a million pounds of banknotes (something to do with cashback when you spend on its Platinum card).
So what, I venture, will happen to the banknotes after financial workers have trampled all over them?
Apparently, £1,000 goes to the quickest putter on the “green”, with a small cut going to charity and the rest destined to be tipped straight back into the firm’s coffers. Perhaps times still aren’t quite so rosy after all.
A ripple of sympathy yesterday at the City Week financial services forum, as Deutsche Bank’s UK chief executive Colin Grassie bemoaned the downside of working in his profession.
“It’s a pleasure to be invited here,” Grassie began. “Frankly, as a banker it’s been a pleasure to be invited anywhere in the last couple of years…”
At least his audience understood what he’s been going through.
Most firms ensconced within the older buildings of the City will be aware of the history of their surroundings, though law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner’s headquarters probably have a stranger claim to fame than most.
The building – Adelaide House, just next to London Bridge – was once the tallest building in the City (how times have changed), and also bears the dubious distinction of having been the birthplace of George V’s favourite pudding.
Apparently, the king had a special Empire plum pudding made for him in 1927, which was mixed in an elaborate ceremony on the firm’s rooftop and subsequently carried amid much pomp and circumstance to the Mansion House to be devoured.
ALL FALL DOWN
Another candidate to add to the growing list of trinkets “commemorating the crisis”. It’s a game akin to the ever-popular “Jenga”, but this time each of the 54 blocks represents one of the events or factors which contributed to the global financial meltdown.
Different blocks represent former president George Bush, his successor President Obama, Ponzi fraudster Bernie Madoff, failed banks Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, and everyone’s favourite crisis demon, collateralised debt obligations (CDOs).
“What better way to relive the financial turmoil than to grab some family or friends and try to build your own financial fortress that’s too big to fail,” shouts the website for the game, “Collapse!”.
Predictably, the next step is to gently tease out the blocks one by one until the entire structure falls down, though the “reminiscing about the bad old days”, as the game suggests, is optional.