Diary: Zhukova is just so tasteful

Yet another glowing profile of Dasha Zhukova – Russian beauty, art impresario and host of the hottest party at the Biennale – this time from The Wall Street Journal.

Ms Zhukova (who loves "physics, but art is where I thought I could make a difference for my country") and Roman Abramovich, her awfully rich boyfriend, have a lot of walls to fill: three homes in London, one in each of Moscow, St Barts, and the South of France – not to mention the 767 and the triptych of super-yachts. But they're far more tasteful, the Journal claims, than their fellow former Soviets.

Their UK properties, for instance, contain a £17.2m Freud, a Bacon and some Auerbachs. "Perhaps, London dealer Ivor Braka ventures, the love of British artists is linked to some 'deep-seated Dostoyevskian resonance in the Russian soul that connects to the Expressionist tradition rather than the more decorative colour field of Americans or Pop artists.' Many of [Zhukova's] compatriots, [serial party guest and interior decorator Nicky] Haslam sniffs, are still locked in a world of brash consumption. 'They're still buying – can you bear it? – Andy Warhol!'."

Oh Nicky, I cannot bear it.

* How will Ratko Mladic keep himself occupied in The Hague, given that his favourite Serbian TV stations are unavailable and that he's convinced all cable channels are CIA-controlled? According to a Hague-based friend of a friend of a friend of this column, two of Mladic's most high-profile new neighbours, Radovan Karadzic and Charles Taylor, regularly play doubles tennis against their guards during their mandatory exercise periods. His alleged ailments notwithstanding, Mladic might do well to seek out a partner and make up a four. French lawyers are supposedly preparing a case against Nicolas Sarkozy for war crimes in Libya, but I'm assured David Cameron is nimbler on the court than his Gallic ally.

* More bad news for prospective Olympics punters. In the week of the tickets fiasco, it seems spectators will also have limited access to one of the 2012 Games' great free-to-view events: the road cycling race. Box Hill in Surrey is a mini-Alpine Mecca for London's keen amateur cyclists; just last week, Lord Coe was there to celebrate its selection as part of the Olympic route. The men's race is due to climb the 224m peak nine times, the women's race twice. "It will give an opportunity for Londoners to come out and see how beautiful this area is," said a cheerful Coe, who lives nearby. Not so fast, Sebastian. Turns out the London Organising Committee and the National Trust (which owns Box Hill and its environs) have plans to close off the area with a 1.8m fence, to protect wildlife from any inconsiderate spectators who might be eager to line the most spectacular section of the race route. "It won't be good for the eco system if we allow 50,000 fans on the hill," a National Trust spokesperson tells Cycling Weekly. Still, the helicopter footage should be passable.

* After settling his tedious feud with Paul Theroux at Hay, VS Naipaul must have realised his chances of appearing in future news pages were significantly diminished. Why else, days later, would the Nobel Prize-winner tell an audience that he considered himself superior to any woman writer, Austen included. "I read a piece of writing," he claimed, "and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me." Naipaul is the author of a number of novels, whose titles Eng Lit graduates may recall from the "didn't bother-to-read-it" sections of their university reading lists. Theroux, pre-reconciliation, described him in terms comprehensible to even the slightest of female intellects. Naipaul, reported his erstwhile chum, "is a wanker".

* I was, I feel I ought to clarify here, a touch drunk yesterday when I lent my enthusiastic support to US Attorney General Eric Holder's calls for a sixth series of The Wire. Having sobered up and read the subsequent comments made by David Simon, the Baltimore-set drama's creator, I would like to quietly retract said enthusiasm. "We are prepared to go to work on season six," wrote Simon in an email to The Times, "if the Dept of Justice is equally ready to reconsider and address its continuing prosecution of our misguided, destructive and dehumanising drug problem." Probably not the response Mr Holder was hoping for.

highstreetken@independent.co.uk

Comments