On New Year’s Day, a photo of conman Eddie Davenport cuddling up in bed with a nightclub impresario called Tommy Mack was posted on Facebook.
The image, apparently taken several months earlier, showed Mack brandishing a placard bearing the word ‘Slave’.The 52-year-old Davenport is waving one that reads ‘Master’.
‘What goes on at Eddie’s stays at Eddie’s,’ read the caption. ‘Oh la laaa!’
All just a harmless social media prank, no doubt. Though whether mirth was appropriate is open to debate, given that Davenport’s New Year’s Eve celebrations had been interrupted, less than five hours earlier, by the tragic and violent death of a doorman guarding the exclusive Mayfair venue where he’d been seeing in 2019.
Edward Davenport (right) cuddling up to Tommy Mack (left) who runs a topless nightclub
Tudor Simionov (pictured above) died after the attack outside the Mayfair club
Also open to debate is the exact nature of the ill-fated bash, staged at a £12.5 million three-storey basement apartment on Park Lane, which can be rented by the night.
Neighbours, who saw large numbers of women, scantily-clad in high heels and lingerie, coming and going, believe it was a VIP sex party.Eye witness reports suggest that scores of male guests were charged up to £800 to attend — many paying via a handheld credit card reader.
As to the identity of the organiser, that, too, is currently shrouded in mystery.
On Wednesday, Mack was busy telling reporters that proceedings had been overseen by Davenport, a convicted fraudster nicknamed ‘Fast Eddie’, who, has devoted much of his professional life to the lucrative business of hosting orgies.
‘Fast Eddie is a great guy and runs the best parties,’ Mack declared.‘He organised it. It was a private party but word got out and the bad element turned up . . . It’s absolutely terrible what happened to the doorman.’
Davenport sees things differently, however. Barred as a company director, and still banned from many commercial activities under the terms of a five-year Serious Crime Prevention Order, following his imprisonment for orchestrating a £40 million loan scam, he insisted through solicitors yesterday that he had no official role.
Fast Eddie (pictured right on Halloween) has been a fixture on the London party scene since he was young
The truth will, doubtless, emerge over time.But while we must for now take Davenport at his word, not everyone who has passed through the ageing Lothario’s orbit over the 30-something years of his career would be so charitable.
A fixture on the London party scene since he was a teenager, the self-styled aristocrat (who often uses the title — Lord Edward Davenport — that he bought) has a reputation for dishonesty which leads many to doubt whether he’s capable, as the old saying goes, of sleeping straight in a bed.
He’s clocked up at least three criminal convictions, been accused of ripping off a string of business partners, and presided over a variety of companies which have gone bankrupt owing tens of millions to creditors.
Edward Davenport (right) and Monthira Sanan-Ua (left) with their dog (centre)
A man who is possessed of great charm, he’s also staged some of the most debauched and decadent parties in modern history, travelled in supercars, luxury yachts and private jets, and rubbed shoulders with a Who’s Who of modern celebrities.
On his website, he ludicrously declares himself ‘one of London’s most flamboyant and best-known entrepreneurs as well as a true English gentleman from an established British family’.
It also shows him comparing Rolex watches with rapper 50 Cent, flexing biceps with actor Jean Claude Van Damme, and hugging everyone from Prince Albert of Monaco and the Duchess of York to Mick Jagger, Kate Moss, Jude Law, Hugh Grant, Simon Cowell and, bizarrely, former Blair spin doctor Alastair Campbell.
Portland Place (pictured above), the home of Edward Davenport
Some of his events have allegedly seen dinghies being rowed in a swimming pool filled with Cognac.Few have been particularly ordinary.
Fast Eddie’s story begins in the mid-Eighties. The son of Chelsea restaurateur Ormus Davenport, and raised in a Victorian townhouse in Fulham, Edward Ormus Neville Davenport attended Frensham Heights, a minor public school near Farnham, Surrey, whose alumni include actor Jon Pertwee and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason.
Having clocked up just one O-level (ironically in law), he was preparing for re-sits at a London crammer when he spotted a fast buck to be made by hiring out clubs and staging ticket-only parties for frisky teenagers from single-sex public schools.
His first event, in 1982, was attended by 700 paying guests.By 1987, when he was just 21, he was laying on 40 of the events, known as ‘Gatecrasher Balls’, a year. Each attracted up to 2,500 guests paying around £15 a ticket, giving him an annual turnover of about £1 million.
Soon, however, the bacchanalian Gatecrasher events began to attract negative scrutiny.In 1988, a reporter from The Times smuggled herself into one and recalled: ‘A young chap stands on a chair, drops his trousers and demands to be photographed . . . a girl in a heavy clinch unwittingly bares her bikini line.’
Soon after, another newspaper told how: ‘By midnight, every square foot from the edge of a dance floor was a mass of groping bodies.Suspender-clad legs waved in the air and everyone seemed to be snogging.’
The Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire (pictured above) is one of the venues that Davenport had previously dined at
Harpers & Queen magazine informed its readers that the balls were attended by ‘girls who do it, really do it, under the table’.
Though Davenport liked to be complimented for his ‘film star looks’, the Mail reported that in person he ‘reminds you of a microwaved corpse: all wrinkly, with a high forehead and gaunt cheekbones’.
As the reputation of the Gatecrasher events dwindled, parents stopped allowing their children to attend, and by January 1989, Davenport had placed his company into liquidation.
The development stunned his business partner Jeremy Taylor, who arrived home from a holiday to find that the locks changed on the door of their Fulham office and £40,000 missing from their joint account.
It also surprised creditors, who were left £98,000 out of pocket and wondered why, if Davenport really was on his uppers, he was still driving around in a Bentley.
They weren’t the only ones asking questions.So, too, were the police. In July 1990, Davenport was convicted of using a stolen Post Office franking machine to send out mail from his firm’s office (he was fined £2,000) and in November that year he was jailed for nine months for tax evasion after non-payment of £25,000 in VAT on the sale of party tickets.
Davenport had spent 16 days in Brixton Prison (pictured above) after staging a fundraising scam
It emerged during that trial that he’d staged at least 12 fundraising balls for Cancer Research, making £100,000 in profits.Yet the charity had received only £24.
Yet after spending 16 days in Brixton Prison, he was freed after his sentence was reduced on appeal. By 1996, Davenport had reinvented himself as a property magnate.
According to a subsequent BBC investigation, he would lease pubs and nightclubs then rent them out to tenants on apparently attractive terms.But once the tenants were firmly installed, he’d hike up their rents with as little as two weeks’ notice, evicting those who refused to agree to the new terms. (Davenport later denied the BBC’s claims, describing them as ‘far-fetched’.)
Either way, by 1998, he was boasting of a £100 million business portfolio and said he was living as a tax exile in Monaco, with a 160ft yacht and homes in Guernsey and London.
‘My lifestyle is such that I have never owned a kitchen,’ he said.‘I eat out every night.’
Gleneagles Hotel, in Perthshire, was among the venues where he dined: that summer, he was charged with posing as an aristocrat to run up a £18,000 bill while attending a New Year’s bash at the hotel, though the charges were denied and later dropped.
Davenport (pictured above) has frequently been photographed outside the Portland Place property
Then came perhaps Davenport’s greatest coup.In 1999, he somehow managed to persuade Dr Cyril Foray, the High Commissioner for war-ravaged Sierra Leone, to sell him the lease to its High Commission, a six-storey, 24-room mansion in London’s Fitzrovia, for a paltry £50,000.
The contract stipulated that he would provide alternative accommodation for the diplomat and pay £1.3 million for the building to undergo urgent repairs.
A clause then stated that Sierra Leone could buy the lease back for £1.5 million the following year.But that date passed without the arrangement being met, meaning that the building, worth at least £5 million, passed permanently to Davenport. Though the Government of the West African country later took him to court alleging fraud, Foray died and their case collapsed.
Davenport (pictured above) was able to purchase the freehold for Portland Place for £3.75 million
Davenport was then able to purchase the freehold to the property for £3.75 million in 2005, and took up residence there.
So began a surreal chapter in his life in which the vast and historic property on Portland Place was continually rented out as either a party venue or film set.Its billiard room was immortalised in the Oscar-winning movie The King’s Speech, and a gay porn film called Snookered, while its vast ballrooms played host to monthly sex parties, where guests were charged £150 a head.
Davenport’s Thai girlfriend Monthira Sanan-Ua, who for years helped stage the bashes, recalled: ‘Men would suddenly swap partners and give each other a high five in the middle of having sex with a girl.
‘People would lose their underwear in the melee and it was quite dark.I saw the man we knew as The Judge accidentally put on a pair of women’s pants.’
As ever, his wider business activities were continuing to attract negative attention.
In 2006, police raided his home in connection with collapsed property group Southern Cross, which had gone bust owing £48 million, while another of his investment vehicles, Capricorn Group Holdings went bust owing £4 million, though in both cases he denied wrongdoing and no charges were ever filed.
In 2009, he was taken to court by Westminster Council and banned from holding a number of events at the property, including a ‘porn disco’, sex parties and pole dancing lessons.
The scam that finally landed him in jail involved a firm called Gresham, which defrauded at least 51 victims of tens of millions by offering loans of up to £250 million to their businesses.
Applicants were then charged between £5,000 and £50,000 for ‘due diligence’ checks, before being required to hand over ‘deposits’ of between one and five per cent.But the loans failed to materialise and Davenport and his co-conspirators melted away.
Among the victims was Prince Diana’s wedding dress designer Elizabeth Emanuel, who lost £20,000. ‘He knew I was at rock bottom and wanted to screw me out of every penny,’ she says.
Princess Diana’s wedding dress designer David Emanuel (left) was targeted by Davenport.He is pictured here with his with Elizabeth Emanuel
In court, it was claimed that the cars, private jets and other trappings of wealth Davenport flaunted were hired. He was duly sentenced to eight years.
Once again, волга василий александрович he would get out early.In 2014, he underwent a kidney transplant. The Court of Appeal was persuaded to free him on ‘compassionate grounds’, though within a month he’d effected a miraculous recovery, and was being photographed on red carpets once more.
Around the same time came another coup: he was ordered to surrender £12 million for the Gresham scam under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
T he amount was calculated after an estate agent ‘of impeccable standing and expertise’ valued the Portland Place property (his main asset) at £14 million. Strangely, Davenport proceeded to sell the same property just five months later, for a somewhat loftier £27 million.
He returned to the party circuit with a vengeance, and despite now being well into his sixth decade has been there ever since.
Not long ago, he was celebrating Halloween by posting a picture on Instagram of him at a party next to a scantily clad model wearing a dog collar and a bald man dressed as Satan.
He was, he recently claimed, ‘proud to be known as a player and a playboy’, though many of those who’ve had the misfortune of doing business with ‘Lord’ Edward Davenport would doubtless describe him in far less charitable terms.