In SpectatorWorld’s High Life column, Taki Theodoracopulos explains how Monte Carlo became what he calls “an overbuilt, overcrowded cement hell out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting.” He writes (abridged):
I now find resorts more fun out of season. Civilized tourists are as rare as an intelligent Hollywood movie, so local talent will do nicely, and to hell with the vulgar jet set. Gstaad is perfect in June and July, March and April, as are St. Moritz, the Ionian Islands and Patmos, my next destination. Once upon a time the French Riviera was a must, but now it’s a sweaty hellhole, a shabby place for not-so-sunny people.
Although I spent my youth on the Riviera, I was two going on three in 1939, the time I would have chosen to be an adult had I been given the choice. Nothing could put a damper on the fevered atmosphere of fun. People were anxious to have a final fling before war broke out.
On the day in August when the Soviet-Nazi pact was announced, pandemonium broke out on the Riviera. Hotels and villas emptied in hours.
Twelve years after the end of the war, I walked down to the old Beach Hotel and the Sporting Club with a gentleman who owned them, a certain Aristotle Socrates Onassis. He knew my dad and was nice to young Taki. Onassis became a household name during the early 1950s when he “bought” Monte Carlo.
What he did was become the majority stockholder of SBM, the company that controls the Monaco casino and its biggest hotels. Onassis wanted to keep Monte Carlo a tiny island of old-fashioned charm, but the ruling Prince Rainier wanted a Las Vegas by the Med.
The result, seventy years later, is that the Grimaldis are among the richest families around, and Monte Carlo is an overbuilt, overcrowded cement hell out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting.
Read more here.
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