Diary: Hopper under the hammer
Friday 07 January 2011
One of the works in Dennis Hopper's art collection, which goes to auction next week in New York, is a portrait of the late actor by British artist Johnny Yeo. Yeo is known for his 2009 portrait of David Cameron, which sold for £200,000 – a record for a politician yet to serve as PM (it might not fetch so much these days). But he's also one of just three artists granted permission to paint Hopper, the others being Julian Schnabel and Andy Warhol. The second work of Yeo's in the Christie's sale is a montage of falling leaves made from pornographic magazine clippings, won by the actor in a bowling competition. The art-loving Hopper, Yeo tells me, considered acting a dirty job necessary to fund his collection. "The first time Dennis sat for me," he remembers, "I wanted to take him for lunch somewhere that he wouldn't have been before. I decided the Chelsea Arts Club was off the beaten track, but suitably bonkers. When we walked in, though, the place was absolutely empty. Dennis turned to me and said, 'You know, it was a lot more fun when I used to come here with Hockney in the Sixties.'"
* This column follows keenly the progress of leylandii-loving ex-RBS boss Sir Fred Goodwin, currently on the books of RMJM, the world's fifth largest architectural business. Sadly, since the Shred's arrival at the cash-strapped firm, a number of senior staff have seen fit to hand in their notice. Meanwhile, its other high-profile signing, architect Will Alsop, has found it alarmingly difficult to attract any commissions. The company, Alsop said when he joined, has a "global reputation". So, unfortunately, does Sir Fred. Now, The Scotsman reports that the Shred's desk has lain empty for several weeks, and speculates that he has stepped down from his consultancy role. Balderdash, an RMJM spokesman assures me. "Sir Fred remains an adviser to the business and we call on his services as required. This encompasses periods when increased input is helpful and others when we require to call on his services less." Despite his reduced workload, the Shred is still said to be claiming that reported six-figure salary. Perhaps the firm discovered that he was most value for money when doing absolutely bugger all.
* As the PM pointed out while in Oldham yesterday, he's the first holder of the office to campaign personally in a by-election for more than a decade. Thus Dave took the opportunity to pledge his dedication to the North. But as his less sympathetic colleagues point out, it was once a rarity to find him beyond Watford – a fact that often caused tensions with his party's northern MPs. Before the general election, they complained repeatedly of his reluctance to visit their constituencies, with his staff turning down countless invitations to northern Tory events. Dave was, I'm told, determined always to be home in time to tuck the children in. There was one occasion, a disgruntled provincial Tory recalls, when the future PM was finally persuaded to attend a shindig in the Manchester area – but only on condition that he be hastily transported south again afterwards, by helicopter.
* Liam Gallagher gives Mojo his thoughts on songwriting: "I'm still new to it, so I don't have a formula yet. I don't go for walks in the park or fucking read Oscar Wilde or shit like that. I just get a fucking guitar and give it a fucking kick around the room. Write a couple of words down and see where it goes." As anyone familiar with the material released by Gallagher's new band Beady Eye will agree, it does sound a lot like a guitar being kicked around a room.
* So celebrated Brazilian forward Ronaldhino will not, after all, be gracing western Lancashire with his silky ball skills. A particular disappointment for Blackburn's nightclub proprietors, who had doubtless noted that the snaggle-toothed free-kick specialist is partial to a caipirinha. As he strolls mournfully down Porto Alegre's Ipanema beach in the years to come, Ronaldhino should reflect upon the varied nightlife options with which Blackburn might have seduced him. A quick Google search throws up such salubrious-sounding local establishments as Liquid Envy, Moist, Jazzy Kex and (Stan Collymore's favourite, surely) the Dog Inn.
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