30 April 2017 | 12.1 °C

Un-Naming and Shaming

By Greg Last edited 141 months ago
Un-Naming and Shaming
CommissarVanishes.jpg

A few weeks ago we predicted that Alberto Vilar's name would be removed from the Floral Hall of Covent Garden, quietly, without comment, in the middle of the night. Well, it appears that we were completely wrong. Rather, Vilar's name will be removed after a humiliating public 60-day "ultimatum."

Why, exactly, are we reading about this? That is to say, what would have been so wrong with a very discreet ultimatum given to Vilar in private? Or, for that matter, simply removing his name quietly in the night? Listen, Vilar is skint. He had to put his paintings into hock in order to make bail. Every single Covent Garden patron knows this. Even we, sitting in our vermin-infested Wood Green flatshare know this. We surmise that there are tribesmen in villages in Borneo who know this. He doesn't have the money. He's in the middle of a legal proceeding that may send him to prison. He's not going to be paying anyone any time soon.

So what does Covent Garden possibly have to gain from staging this little pantomime? It's difficult to avoid the conclusion that the public ultimatum serves one and only one purpose: more public humiliation, more punishment meted out, not for any crime he may or may not have committed, but rather for the sheer pleasure of seeing a man who had risen above his station come crashing down. Why don't we just lock him in the stocks, throw rotten vegetables at him, and have done with it?

Listen, there are lots of reason why we want to dislike Alberto Vilar. Besides the fact that he may be and embezzler and money-launderer, he definitely was hubristic, arrogant, self-aggrandising, rather tacky, and romantically connected to a certain ex-Harvard professor with the worst, um, "reputation" in musicology. (Okay, that last item isn't entirely relevant, but we can't help ourselves.) However, if Covent Garden administrators and the like continue to behave like villains out of The Pickwick Papers, then we might just be forced to start feeling sorry for the man. And, really, we'd prefer not to.

Last Updated 22 July 2005

Pete

The guy is accused of fraud and money laundering... if he's guilty, wouldn't that make the ROH liable for charges of receiving and/or laundering?

Greg

Ooo, clever! Except that the ROH hasn't been "receiving" very much at all, hence the problem.

Anyway, he's accused of stealing a total of $5 million. His total pledges, to all sorts of philanthropic causes from opera houses to hospitals, are I think in the hundreds of millions of dollars. So it seems unlikely that, even if he is guilty, any particular donation would be tainted. Except by the sin of being nouveau-riche. And rather tacky. Etc.