HOLLYWOOD DIRECTOR HAS POP AT GOLDMAN

HOLLYWOOD director Oliver Stone is clearly a very brave man, having taken a figurative pop at not one, but two of the world’s most successful businessmen in the past week.

Just a few days ago, it emerged that Stone – currently on a publicity flash tour to coincide with the opening of his new film, Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps – had axed a cameo scene featuring US mogul Donald Trump from the film’s final cut, describing it as “distracting”.

And now, it appears he’s game for a backhanded shot at none other than Goldman boss Lloyd Blankfein, too.

Talking about the film’s character Bretton James, played by rugged actor Josh Brolin, in a recent Bloomberg interview, Stone said he was based a little on former Treasury secretary Robert Rubin, a little on JP Morgan chief Jamie Dimon – and would be a little on Blankfein too, if only he were “handsomer”. The sheer cheek of it, eh?

CRASH PAD
While we’re on the subject of the beauteous Dimon, it’s been a happy week for him all round.

The JP?Morgan chief has been having rather a headache trying to complete the sale of his Chicago Gold Coast pad of late, having originally put the 13,500 sq ft property on the market before the global economy went pear-shaped in early 2007.

He’s had to slash the price repeatedly since that time due to a dearth of demand – but having dropped from its original $13.5m price tag down to $9.5m, and then again just a few short weeks ago to a smidgeon short of $7m, the eight-bedroom mansion is now finally under contract.

OCCUPATIONAL HAZARD
To Christopher’s off the Strand yesterday morning, where a gaggle of excited journalists and investment geeks were treated to an exclusive roundtable breakfast with renowned emerging market guru Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments.

Between delivering gems of wisdom on population growth in Nigeria and tales of globetrotting in unusual locales, Mobius had some useful dietary advice: “If you ever want to eat a tuna sandwich again, don’t go to a tuna factory. I visited one where they had two lines: one was the human food line and one was the cat food line – and they didn’t look any different…” (Enough to put you off your M&S lunchtime special, isn’t it?)
As for currying favour with emerging market governments, the investment sage recounted a feted arrival in Bashkortostan, a mineral-rich, semi-independent republic in Russia.
The state’s most celebrated officials turned up at the airport to welcome their exotic visitors, politely taking their suitcases and escorting them towards their cars. As they walked, Mobius spotted a colleague slipping a fiver out of his pocket to tip the luggage porter. Alarmed at the impending faux pas, our guru had to act fast. He raced over to his colleague: “Carlos, don’t! That’s the minister of finance!”

$5 was probably not the kind of investment the minister had in mind.

SHORT SHRIFT
More on the antics of Andrew “Bert” Black, one of the co-founders of internet betting group Betfair, who’s set to pocket a cool £17m or so if the company’s proposed initial public offering goes to plan.

Black, who’s long left the day-to-day running of the firm to his original partner Ed Wray, quietly announced his intention to retire from the firm as a non-executive director on Tuesday, on the day the float was announced.

Clearly not one to get emotional about such momentous decisions, Black broke the news of his resignation in forthright style on his Facebook page, signing off with the calm retort: “Oh well”…

FOND FAREWELL
A sad but very fond farewell is planned tomorrow for City veteran Adrian Ireland, who passed away earlier this year at home in Ibiza.

Ireland, a long-time employee of Winterflood Securities, was much-loved by colleagues, who nicknamed him “the bean pole” in his early days at the firm, until his passion for the better things in life started to take their toll on his waistline. He was cricket-mad and a regular at Lords cricket ground, where I’m told he could sometimes be spotted taking a short “power nap” as the cameras panned around the stands.

Friends who would like to offer their condolences to his wife Jane and his two sons, as well as raising a glass of kummel in his memory, are invited to a memorial service tomorrow at 12pm at St Botolph’s Church, Liverpool Street.

MOTORING AHEAD
Much consternation among the petrolheads yesterday at the launch of a luxury kitchen, of all things, where entrepreneur Leo Caplan turned up in a rather swanky motor.

Caplan – who hit the headlines when he snapped up furniture group Smallbone of Devizes out of administration last year – was helping to lure in the rich list to his company Alternative Plan’s new kitchen range Strato, where products start at an eye-popping £100,000.
His car certainly won’t have harmed the cause, anyway: it’s a £1.5m Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport in brilliant white, with the numberplate L2 – and he’s one of only five lucky owners in the country.

Little wonder the boys’ jaws were hitting the floor.