Relics of empire up for sale
Sunday 08 October 1995
A great many humbler items have become surplus to requirements now that the company has moved from Cheapside to Victoria. Some, including an apparently hideous grandfather clock, were reclaimed by Tiny. But this left quite a number of more valuable items, due to go under the hammer shortly at Phillips. These include some rather nice watercolours and engravings, naturally on African subjects. Even though they weren't necessarily bought by Tiny, their provenance may help the auction - just think of the exorbitant prices paid for relics of other departed tycoons like Azil Nadir ... And no, contrary to rumour, the relics do not include any of the curious memorabilia which Tiny was always supposed to have brought home from his visits to old African chums.
WHAT have these names in common: Lord Hanson, Sir James Goldsmith, and Conrad Black? Answer: they are popularly supposed to be worth a billion, but they ain't. Not according to the latest list of the world's dollar billionaires complied by Forbes magazine, anyway. The list obviously takes account of a chap's debts, unlike rival ones from publications that shall remain nameless, one of which hailed the late Robert Maxwell as seriously rich just before he disappeared overboard.
THIS year's list does rub in just how poor we are in this country even after 16 years of the Enterprise Economy. Britain only has five of the 200 dollar billionaires outside the US (David Sainsbury, Richard Branson, Garry Weston and the Moores and Schroder families).This puts us well below not only such first-division economies as Japan and Germany, but Thailand and the Philippines. Judging by the figures, these appear to be truly enterprising economies.
NO, YOU will be relieved to hear, the editor of the Financial Times has not started suffering from megalomania. The suspicion arises because the masthead of the Grand Old Pink 'Un suddenly grew alarmingly in the middle of the week, and by Friday had changed colour from its former sombre black to an impressive dark blue-grey. The official explanation is that the change merely brings the London edition in line with the international edition. But I have my doubts: could it be that the FT retained a subconscious impression of the blue-on-pink scheme which graces our own modest efforts?
Writing on the wall
I HAVE bad news for the 200 delegates to the World Congress of Graphology, to be held in London next week. It seems highly likely that SG Warburg, one of the most high-profile users of the technique in its recruitment policies, may abandon graphology after the "merger" with Swiss Bank Corporation.
SBC is as unusual in not using graphology as was Warburg in using it, since it's a discipline which is taken far more seriously in corporate circles in continental Europe than it is here.British recruiters are seemingly too frightened, too hidebound, too afraid of being laughed at to use it to any extent. They could also cite the hoary case of the man who built up Hoffman LaRoche's subsidiary in the US after the war. The handwriting on his application on which he was hired was his wife's.
THE advertising industry has just embarked on its first quest. No, this is not the latest in the Search for Meaning (and Clients) which occupies so many admen's waking hours, but a highly tax-efficient form of corporate organisation which requires that every employee owns one, and only one share. This condition would normally prevent its use in so ego-stuffed a business, but it has been accepted by the 45 employees of the British end of Chiat Day, until recently one of the hottest US agencies. In the US it has cooled down a bit recently, but here it remains fashionable enough, having helped Boots No 7 to regain its pole position in the cosmetics stakes and given a boost to the new sound of BBC Radio 1.
The formation of the quest has enabled the hotshots to arrange an employee buy-out now that Chiat has been absorbed into a giant media conglomerate. The bosses of the agency have also swallowed their egos; the fab 45 will simply be known as St Luke's. In case you didn't know, he's the patron saint of iconographers. And is not advertising essentially the creation of modern icons ? The name also leaves room if they merge with other agencies. Knowing the business, it would not surprise me greatly if they ended up as St Matthew Mark Luke & John.
Weight for it
AS GUEST columnist, I congratulate the regular Bunhill, David Bowen, on the birth of a daughter, Megan Eliza, the reason for his absence. I can even give her weight in imperial measures, as 8lb 4oz, since she was born at 10.34pm on 30 September, 1hr 26mins before metrication would have converted her to a less healthy-sounding 3.74kg.
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