Page 3 Profile: James Palumbo, nightclub founder


So they’re installing disco lights in the Upper Chamber?

Uh, not quite. But they are giving Ministry of Sound founder James Palumbo a peerage.

To play house music in the House of Lords?

While on first impressions he may not strike you as an obvious addition to the benches next to Lord Snosbury of Dubburtshire and Lady Dumble of Wibblesdale, he’s got pedigree. His father, an art dealer, is a Tory peer and he’s been a close advisor to the Liberal Democrats on operations, marketing and campaigns.

So he’s a keen supporter?

No doubt about it. He’s donated £643,000 to the party in cash, staffing costs and premises in the past two years; he’s friends with Nick Clegg and handed over his nightclub, free of charge, to the party.

A load of Lib Dems doing their John Travolta routine on the dancefloor?

Some might have had an arthritic boogie, but the club was used as the headquarters for the party’s London mayoral election campaign.

So there’s gold in the disco game?

Palumbo’s pockets are well lined. He came 434th in The Sunday Times Rich List this year, with an estimated fortune of £180m. He’s always had an entrepreneurial streak: leaving Eton, he moved to LA and set up a service providing his well-heeled co-alumni as butlers to the city’s rich and famous.

And do we hear whispers of a family rift?

Yes, we may see some filial fireworks in the House. His father is still a lord, and the two have been estranged for most of James’s life. In the late 1990s, he launched legal proceedings against pater Palumbo over mismanagement of a trust fund set up by grandfather Rudolph – and won.

Sounds like quite a character.

Indeed. He is rarely without Mr Bounce, his regal blue whippet who is “really a Mozart fan”. He’s also not that keen on the modern club scene. “London’s going to have no nightclubs left, just champagne clubs for hedge-fund people,” he warned. “We’ve never been about paying Kim Kardashian a few hundred thousand dollars [to come on] New Year’s Eve. Yes, famous people come here. But this club has always been about the music, the dancing, the big audience.”

Whatever next?

Will the Conservatives extend a peerage to their very own long-time donor and nightclub owner, a certain Mr Peter Stringfellow?