Sunday 8 September 2013

John Cleese: Art for Alimony

The John Cleese Art Collection at the Chris Beetles Gallery, London
John Cleese and John Wood: I finally got a photo with JC, the almighty!
John Cleese, Eric Idle, Sir Trevor Nunn and Prof Brian Cox arrive

Thanks to art lover and Python fan, Chris Butcher, my name was put on the guest list for this event that took place on Tues 3 Sept 2013, together with Python fans Alexandra Weid and Lolly Taylor-Archer. Actually, it turned out that there was, in fact, no guest list (anyone could just walk in - if it wasn't so packed that is) which was a bit surprising, since free champagne was flowing all night.

John Cleese was selling off 110 items of his art collection to raise funds towards his alimony payments to his ex-wife, Alyce Faye Eichelberger, at the Chris Beetles Gallery in Ryder Street, London, SW1. From Wikipedia: "The divorce settlement left Eichelberger with £12 million in finance and assets, including £600,000 a year for seven years. Cleese stated that "What I find so unfair is that if we both died today, her children would get much more than mine"."

The place was absolutely packed (there were 400 of us, says the Daily Mail), and there were so many celebs in the crowd! Here are those I recognised, but there were many faces I'd seen on the telly but I couldn't figure out who they were:
Eric Idle (a very pleasant surprise), Prof Brian Cox, Sir Tim Rice, Sir Trevor Nunn, Anthony Andrews, Terence Conoley and Jeffrey Archer.
The wives of the late Peter Cook and Michael Winner were also present.

Chris Beetles, owner of the art gallery, introduced John Cleese who talked a little bit about his recently departed friends, Sir David Frost and Michael Winner, and he then pointed out various items in the collection and told us the stories behind them and how he came to own them.

Afterwards, he signed autographs for ages, and I managed to get a photo with him, finally! I had met John Cleese before, at the Secret Policeman's Biggest Ball back in 1989, when I asked him what this Neville Shunte/Gavin Millarrrrrrrr Python sketch was all about, and he explained it to me.

Press coverage: 
  1. Fashion Magazine 247:John Cleese and Eric Idle Reunite which Eric Idle tweeted about here: "John Wood sent me this, John Cleese and me, at Johns art sale, enjoying a joke about the Daily Mail..."
  2. Daily Mail: Now John Cleese sells off art memories to pay for divorce from third wife
  3. Daily Mail: Donna Air misses out on Pippa's birthday bash: Ditched 'sister-in-law's' 30th for jewellery party down the road
  4. Daily Mail: RICHARD KAY: I won't be Prince George's godfather, says Guy Pelly
  5. Daily Telegraph: Monty Python star John Cleese finds that his taste in art changes with his wives
  6. Daily Express: Fawlty times for John Cleese
John Cleese with 94-year old actor Terence Conoley who appeared in Fawlty Towers
Terence Conoley played Mr Johnstone in "The Waldorf Salad" (1:02) and Mr Wareing in "A Touch of Class" (4:00 and the closing seconds)
Sir Trevor Nunn
Sir Trevor Nunn and John Cleese were at Cambridge together
Sir Trevor Nunn told me he introduced John Cleese to Graham Chapman at Cambridge!
Jennifer Wade, John Cleese, Sir Trevor Nunn
Jennifer Wade, Eric Idle, John Cleese, Brian Cox
John Cleese and Eric Idle

Here's the front view of this shot (not taken by me)
A Double Whammy!
Sir Tim Rice
Chris Beetles introduces John Cleese

John Cleese signed a lot of autographs that day!


Bob said...

What a lovely account of a wonderful gathering! Kudos, John!

Bob said...

I find it deplorable that, a man of his age, who should be relaxing and enjoying the fruits of an enormously talented, famous, and long career, should be forced to sell his cherished artwork in order to finance a settlement to some stupid, gold-digging femme order by a rather daft judge.

johnalexwood said...

Happy Birthday John!