GSTAAD—It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas: nonstop snowfall, an empty main street, and the closing of the Palace hotel as well as the Eagle club. (I give the traditional closing-day speech at the club, and my oration this year was deemed politically incorrect.)
The older I get the more I like it off-season. The toadies and parasites of the truly rich have followed their masters to places such as St. Barts or the Bahamas. Tarts, pimps, art dealers, jewelry salesmen, real-estate sharks—you name them, we have them.
During the season, that is. New money needs new art, and there’s a lot of the former around during the busy season. One disgusting little man infiltrated my backgammon game and passed his catalogue around. It’s a sad day when a man can’t even relax over backgammon without a Japanese-made Modigliani being shoved in his face. There are also some magnificent unsigned Picassos and some extremely rare ones spelled with one ‘s.’ The Saudi who built a chalet and had his family tree carved on the outside applied for the Eagle and I put my foot down. “But you don’t know him,” said the charming female secretary at the door. “He’s very nice.”
I told her that was the whole point. I don’t wish to know him and if you do let him come in on a season pass, I insist he wears Western clothes. “If this gets out,” said the charming secretary, “they’ll be after you, trust me.” I told her not to worry—I would include it in my column so there will be no mix-up.
What is amazing is how scared people are to discriminate. A club’s whole purpose is to include people who like each other and exclude those they don’t like. I like people who have good manners, who are sporty, and who can tell the difference between a de Staël and a fraud such as Lucian Freud.
Speaking of Freud, that fat old queen John Richardson put out some story about Freud tripping me in some restaurant, but it’s simply not true. I get foot-swept nonstop in judo, so an old fraud like Freud is hardly the type to trip me and make me fall (when he was alive and kicking, I mean).
But it’s a fun story: Good guy Freud makes bad guy Taki fall down. Lucian Freud is called great by art dealers, critics, and hacks who don’t know any better. A true great, Paul Johnson, once explained to me how Freud disguised his artistic flaws by pouring the paint onto ugly and contorted female nudes and even uglier male pachyderms. Mainly Freud was a minor artist who has been elevated to the pantheon of the greats because people can make lotsa moolah from his terrible, terrible art. Thus spake the great art critic Taki.
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