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ROY ACKERMAN GAVE MANY ARTISTS THEIR FIRST BREAK IN THE DAYS WHEN HE RAN RESTAURANTS, HANGING THEIR WORK ON THE WALLS AND GIVING THEM FREE MEALS. NOW, HE’S MIXING FOOD WITH ART AGAIN IN HIS NEW ROLE AS CURATOR AT


45 PARK LANE – AND HE HAS CALLED ON A FEW FAMOUS FRIENDS TO HELP, AS KATE WHITE DISCOVERS


A t legendary French hotel Colombe d’Or,


in the picturesque medieval village of St Paul- de-Vence, paintings displayed on the walls range from a Modigliani to a Matisse. As struggling artists, the seminal painters


would drop by for food, wine and lodging, settling the bill with a work of art. Today, a Picasso hangs in the dining room, and an Alexander Calder mobile dangles above the pool.


Artists exchanging their paintings for hospitality is a time-honoured tradition, and one that food industry veteran Roy Ackerman is seeking to honour at a five- star Mayfair hotel. The affable hospitality expert built up


an empire of more than 130 restaurants in the 1970s and 80s – including The Ivy and Italian chain Bertorelli and has backed acclaimed chefs including Giorgio Locatelli and Brian Turner. His latest role sees him take on the position of art curator for 45 Park Lane, a hip hotel that’s a firm favourite with A-listers: Tom Cruise, I notice, is seated in the lobby as we chat.


For Ackerman, the worlds of food and


art are inexorably linked. “Something that happens to many restaurateurs is that you make a lot of friends with artists, musicians and actors,” he says. “They don’t have any money when you meet them, but they end up having a lot more than you do. “I had a lot of restaurants of my own once upon a time, and most of the artists I know are purely because of my history. When they were struggling they would come and eat with you and you’d give them credit. If they were an artist you might hang their paintings on the wall. If they were a pianist, you’d get them to play on a Saturday night.” Ackerman is full of praise for 45 Park


Lane’s allegiance with the arts. “The hotel has very much dedicated itself to supporting the arts, which is terrific,” he says. “They really decided they were going to do it properly, by actually buying the works.


Rooms with a view


“The brief I was given – contemporary, living British artists – was a good brief. It’s a nice one for me to have, because it meant I could work with a lot of artists who are also my friends.”


Thanks to Ackerman, the hotel is brimming with an interesting and eclectic range of art, ranging from Damien Hirst to Sir Peter Blake. “Peter is a great chum, I’ve known him for many years,” says Ackerman. “The joke is, whenever he’s late going to a


review or something, I stand in as his body double.” (At first glance, the pair do look rather similar). “He’s a lovely man and a great chap. I’m very fond of him.” Another artist whose works are displayed in the hotel is the portrait painter Christian


Furr who, when he was just 28 years old, became the youngest person ever to paint the Queen. Furr’s work is “emphatically figurative”, says Ackerman, and is concerned with the “theatre of relationships”. The writing of Shelagh Delany, with its “wry northern humour and working-class, kitchen sink romanticism” inspires him. In the hotel’s critically acclaimed


restaurant Cut, which is overseen by Wolfgang Puck, the walls are adorned with works by Damien Hirst. “I met Damien through Brad Faine, who also has some art here,” says Ackerman. “Brad does a lot of work with Damien and is probably the best printmaker in the country.”


hotels


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