Iconic London hotspot Annabel's is auctioning off its interiors to raise money for charity – and celebrities have already started staking their claim on some of the best lots.
The Berkeley Square nightclub has long been known for its glittering clientele and sumptuous interiors. It was even the location for Princess Diana's hen do. The princess, alongside Sarah Ferguson, also famously snuck into the nightclub disguised as policewomen in 1986.
Now, under new ownership from the Ivy Group and with the club having moved two doors down in the square, Annabel's is auctioning off numerous lots to raise money for its charitable foundation and to fund the purchase of more art for the club, now at number 46. Two lots are being sold for Richard Caring's The Children's Charity for the Good of All Children – a Cristian Voight and photographs taken by Richard Young of stars including Joan Collins, Jack Nicholson, Princess Diana, Elizabeth Taylor and Diana Ross, among others.
Lots include a giant Buddha statue, which pop star Rita Ora apparently has her eye on (“I can only imagine what that Buddha has seen over the years," she said), champagne flues, wine list covers, tables and sofas and hundreds of paintings collected by its founder Mark Birley and his interior designer Nina Campbell over the years.
The most expensive lots include an "intimate" portrait of Henry Thomas by Glyn Warren Philpot, which is estimated to reach £80,000 to £120,000, a painting of the Cenotaph by Sir William Nicholson, expected to reach £50,000 to £80,000, and a painting by Sir William Orpen, also expected to reach £50,000.
Liz Hurley is expected to bid around £2000 to £4000 for one of the club's trademark red velvet sofas.
"Gin martini, no lemon" - the Queen's Annabel's bar order
Besides Princess Diana, countless stars – including Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Harry Styles, Lady Gaga, Michael Caine and many more – have graced the nightclub since it opened underneath the Clermont Club casino in 1963. It's also rumoured to be the only nightclub that the Queen has ever attended in 2003, with then-head barman Abderrazat Mohammed Ghannam saying it was his "greatest honour" to serve her a "gin martini, no lemon".
Entrepreneur Mark Birley set up the club under his friend John Aspinall's casino so that there would be somewhere for people to go and drink after they'd finished gambling – and named the club after his then-wife, Lady Annabel Vane-Tempest-Stewart. Stewart was initially angry at her name being used for the club, but later wrote that it was "the most tremendous compliment" that could ever be paid to her by Birley.
Christie's chairman Orlando Rock told The Guardian that more than 2,000 people had come to see the lots.
“We’ve been fairly inundated with bidders,” he said. “There’s a huge amount of nostalgic interest. Everyone has a story, these walls have seen so many things, and a lot of people have specific memories. Be it the sofa where they got engaged, or something else.”
"I feel like I’ve lived in a nightclub for a week. Everything is for sale."