The Groucho Club, an infamous Soho watering hole known for its literary and arty crowd, has been purchased by gallerists Hauser & Wirth for a reported (The FT) £40m. Located in Dean Street, the Groucho Club has written a part of history for London, becoming a “home for hell-raisers” and everyone else who matters in the arts.
The Club, founded in 1985, has built up a substantial art collection with works by Damien Hirst, Gavin Turk and Tracey Emin said to be worth millions. It was one of the first private clubs to open membership to both men and women and was perceived as groundbreaking in the last century.
Dreamt up by a group of publishers as an alternative to stuffy gentleman’s clubs who wanted somewhere to meet and relax, Anthony Mackintosh, owner of ‘The Zanzibar’ – a members bar in Covent Garden – and Restaurant 192 and his partners Carmen Callil, Ed Victor, Liz Calder, and Michael Sissons created The Groucho Club.
Premises were found in Soho, the bohemian heart of London, and the doors opened to a membership drawn from the Arts, Publishing, Film, Music and Advertising, many of whom were working in the area. It soon became the approved watering hole for the creative industries. With bars, two restaurants, private event rooms and twenty bedrooms, The Groucho Club was a benchmark for a new generation of members clubs both opening in the area and internationally.
Ownership of the club has changed several times over the years. It was sold to Joel Cadbury, Matthew Freud and Rupert Hambro in 2001. In 2008 they sold it to Graphite Capital, who then sold a majority stake to a group of private investors led by Alcuin Capital, a fellow private equity firm.
The Club takeover by Artfarm a company owned by Manuela and Iwan Wirth’s independent hospitality and development company marks a new era for the Groucho that could include a drive to recruit younger members and international expansion.