They took his name off the Floral Hall at Covent Garden today and replaced it with Paul Hamlyn’s, a deceased publisher whose foundation kicked in the £10 million (that’s $20m in Met equivalents) that cheeky Al promised the Royal Opera House but never paid.
Well, never paid in full. He kicked in a couple of million, before the hi-tech hedge find ran dry and Alberto stopped returning calls. The Hamlyn money has been ring-fenced for education (which was also Vilar’s intent), and I suppose that means all ends happily ever after – pending the possible fraud trial of which nothing has been heard for ages.
Sad, really. Vilar came on the scene at a really important moment for the ROH. He made his pledge at a time when the place was a building site and the newly elected Blair government were not going to let it reopen unless the books balanced. They were £10 million short. Vilar’s promissory note made all the difference. He does not deserve to be erased from history.
If you’re out there, Alberto, drop a line to say, Hi.
And that goes for you, too, Karen.