Nubar Gulbenkian (1900-72) was an Armenian-born playboy tycoon who lived in the Ritz Hotel. His money came from the family oil business (it owned five per cent of BP's shares) and he was a well-known figure in London: an impeccable dresser, he almost always wore a fresh orchid in his lapel; when visiting desert countries, he had the flowers shipped in daily.
For a London party, he flew in a troupe of belly dancers from Turkey. Married three times and twice divorced, he remained childless. He had a superior attitude about good food and wine.
The perfect number for dinner, he said, was two (himself and a headwaiter).
He drove about in a custom-built gold and black car, designed to look like a London taxi and powered by a Rolls-Royce engine.
I like to travel in a gold-plated taxi that can turn on a sixpence—whatever that is.
He liked big, fast, expensive cars and, after owning many rapid pre-war sports cars, acquired a taste for Rolls-Royces in the post-war years. He had a chauffeur, called Wooster, but would often take the wheel himself or urge his driver on from the back seat:
Nubar is so tough that every day he tires out three stockbrokers, three horses and three women.