As work begins on the Royal Academy’s £50million redevelopment project, it seemed an opportune time for the RA to hold a party in honour of their patron Sir David Tang’s 20 year anniversary.
Fresh from last week’s China State Banquet, Tang arrived fashionably late to 6 Burlington Gardens for the do, managing to leave even Royal Academy chief executive Charles Saumarez Smith in doubt as to his attendance. ‘There was a moment when I thought he might not be coming to his own party, somebody said “you do know he’s in New York?”,’ Saumarez Smith said, before adding his delight that the rumour had proved to be false.
With Sir David in the building, the ever in demand social butterfly was soon besieged by phonecalls but did find time to share his thoughts with Miss Steerpike on reaching 20 years as a patron for the RA: ‘I am astonished to have aged that much,’ Tang joshed. ‘But really, while I will be but a small blip in terms of the RA’s own history, for me it’s been a wonderful period of my life.’
Happily, Saumarez Smith was more forthcoming when it came to praising Tang’s achievements. ‘He’s incredibly well-connected and knows everybody,’ he said. ‘In a way this evening is also the moment where we start work on the redevelopment project, the event is partly a way of indicating that there are infinite possibilities to do things that we can’t do in our main building.’
Saumarez was right about Tang’s pulling power, guests including Tracey Emin, Princess Eugenie, Barry Humphries and Longleat heir Viscount Weymouth and his wife Emma Mcquiston — the stars of the new BBC documentary All Change at Longleat — all came together to raise a glass of champagne in honour of their friend.
Here are some photos from the event:
(Images: c. Red Photographic)