High life

Taki: the wisdom of 12-year-olds

7 December 2013

9:00 AM

7 December 2013

9:00 AM

 New York

I’m in an extremely happy state as I write this because a young Englishman flew over the ocean just to have lunch with me and ask for my daughter’s hand in marriage. This is how things used to be done, but alas no longer. I will not reveal his name until it happens — I am very superstitious — but suffice it to say he went to Eton and Oxford, comes from a fine and very old English family and has a beautiful sister, who unfortunately is happily married. (But not to me.) So, in this pleasant state of mind, I’m only going to write about nice things.

Up to a point, of course. Like what good things one reads in the dear old Speccie, which I get one week later than the rest of you: when my son, a German expressionist painter now living in Paris, besieged me 20 years ago at age 12 to buy a Basquiat, I dismissed his advice as the impressionable foolishness of extreme youth. Basquiat to me was a horrible graffiti show-off whom Andy Warhol had a crush on and who would disappear the day, night rather, he overdosed — which he did. But reading about the arts in these here pages two weeks ago, I learnt a thing or two. Such as to listen to a 12-year-old who also painted graffiti and had met Mr  B., for starters. I could have bought him for peanuts, and although he still doesn’t race my motor one bit, I could have sold him for 48 million big ones and gone whoring downtown.

Lesson number one: listen at times to 12-year-olds; lack of experience in the ways of the world can be enlightening as well as profitable. Lesson number two, and here I quote Niru Ratnam in the Speccie: ‘Sportsmen, actors, musicians and entrepreneurs’ who buy modern art, as well as oligarchs, sheikhs and hedge-funders, have a seismographic alertness to where the money will go, and buy accordingly. The art market is now fuelled by these bums, and poor little Taki is left on the shelf pining for Edward Hopper. (Who, thank God, is also going for millions.) My not taking my son’s advice was not entirely my fault. Just before JT had insisted that here was a serious artist, I had given a dinner at my house for the great Hilton Kramer, the American critic, who — and here I again quote from The Spectator — had dismissed Basquiat as a ‘talentless hustler, street-smart but otherwise invincibly ignorant, who used his youth and his skin colour to win an overnight fame’. I agreed and still agree, and this is the reason my son thinks me a very nice man who is a complete fool.

Oh well, turning the page, I then read about Polidori and Byron by Lucy Hughes-Hallett, and here again my family was involved. I grew up, in a manner of speaking, in Villa Diodati, on the banks of Lake Geneva (when it was owned by my greatest friend, Philippe Washer, the Belgian heir and tennis champion), the house where Byron and Mary Shelley wrote ghost stories on a dark and stormy night. They chose the name Frankenstein, my wife’s ancestor, because he was Austrian ambassador to Switzerland and known to be the nicest man ever. The family has never recovered.

Otherwise, everything is hunky-dory. There is a game being played only by blacks and Hispanics in the great city of New York that’s called ‘polar bear hunting’. (Whites are the polar bears, get it?) It’s fuelled by social media, with thugs boasting of their attacks online and posting internet videos of the sucker punch. It involves approaching mostly old ladies or small Jewish Orthodox men and walloping them, with the goal of rendering them unconscious with one punch. They don’t rob them or do further damage if the victim goes down. The latest victim was a Jewish granny, and the ‘game’ has caught on throughout many American cities. The irony is that only the New York Post has covered it. The New York Times, whose bias against white males, policemen and Republicans is so extreme it makes hardened criminals roll their eyes, chooses to ignore it. Instead, it recently ran a 10,000-word philippic against a Florida policeman whose girlfriend was found dying from a gunshot wound, with the policeman’s service pistol beside her. The sheriff’s office called it a suicide and the cop was never charged. The brother of the dead woman went on record absolving the policeman boyfriend. Still, he’s a cop, and he’s white, and he most likely voted for Pat Buchanan in 2000, so he must be a Nazi. And to further show her PC credentials, the old bag then ran a very long but extremely tedious piece by a woman who had a one-night stand with a young Brown University student, who climaxed before her and then went to sleep. Two thousand words by a woman complaining about such an unheard-of happening put me on edge. Young men reaching orgasm before a woman? Well, I never! Bring on the Pulitzers.

But this is supposedly a happy column, so I must stay away from the gloomy Times. If and when the marriage takes place, it will be a small family wedding and hopefully afterwards I will give a ball at the Schoenburg Palace in Vienna and all of you will be invited. But not the woman who complained so publicly about the Brown University student. We might all fall asleep while waltzing.

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  • Sanctimony

    Your daughter’s engagement is in today’s Daily Telegraph’s forthcoming marriages column, in case you missed it, Taki… so the secret is now out and many congratulations all round.

    And very modest of you or your future in-laws, I may add, not to insist upon appearing at the top of the column, where titled folk are normally placed and to which the declasse aspire.

  • Doggie Roussel

    If that’s $48m worth of art, Lordy help us !

  • Mary Dohnalek

    In your 7 December 2013 column, you described ‘polar bear hunting’. I am a old lady who lives in the Big Bagel. I had never heard of sucker punches that were bragged about on social media sites. I sent an e-mail to a group that includes 20-year-olds and entertainers who who use internet social media.
    From the responses, I think the reason that The New York Times doesn’t report on polar bear hunting is that it doesn’t exist.
    Perhaps, in November, one or 2 crazy youths did post sucker punch people. However one or 2 crazies in a City of 8 million does not make a trend.
    Below are 2 e-mail response to my query.
    From a 20-year-old: It got a ton of cable news press last month as “The Knockout Game.” But, from what I can tell, it’s probably something that got over-hyped by the media, and wasn’t actually occurring any more frequently than random assaults were in the past.
    From an entertainer: Probably there are young macho guys bragging
    somewhere on some social media site about how they can do a knockout with one
    blow, and certainly there are racist websites for various ethnicities. I am on
    several of the social media sites and have never run across anything like this.

  • ploppi

    Good advice thats why it’s always Worth considering outsider artists.
    I can do you a good low price on an original Ploppi painting.