Murky past of Hirst's Mr Ten Per Cent

Before teatime yesterday, he had already pocketed in the region of £10 million. And that was before Sotheby's had even started counting the multi-million-pound tally from the final auction session of Damien Hirst's diamond-encrusted back catalogue.

Damien Hirst

Abattoir art: Damien Hirst with his work The Incredible Journey

For Hirst's business manager Frank Dunphy, the £100 million sale of abattoir art was a glorious triumph and vindication of the astute Irishman's financial stewardship of the artist, turning him from Britart darling into the industry's first dollar billionaire.

But the flamboyant Dunphy, I can reveal, has a past as far removed from the wood-panelled salesrooms of New Bond Street as can be imagined.

The 70-year-old former showbusiness accountant was in his youth, I discover, an active supporter of the IRA.

While the IRA that the young Dunphy supported in the aftermath of World War II was far removed from the terrorist organisation of recent years, it was still a thorn in the side of the Dublin government.

Growing up in the seaside village of Portrane near Dublin, Dunphy helped prepare and distribute IRA pamphlets. His mother had earlier fought in the Irish War of Independence against Britain.

Says Irishman of letters Ulick O'Connor: "The IRA that Frank supported was largely pro-German and was at war with the Irish Republic more than England. They tended to shoot Irish policemen.'

Dunphy, who takes more than ten per cent from Hirst in commission, has grown
hugely rich since a chance encounter at Soho's Groucho Club 12 years ago when he agreed to sort out the artist's accounts.

In the Seventies, Dunphy, who emigrated to London as a teenager, looked after the affairs of rock group Led Zeppelin. Other clients included Coco the Clown and the late comedian Roy Castle.

Now he masterminds Hirst's global success. From the proceeds of Damien's artworks, the pair have acquired a property portfolio that stretches from London to Gloucestershire and even Mexico.

His gamble in persuading Hirst to bypass galleries and sell direct at Sotheby's has been hailed as a financial triumph. Yesterday he quipped: "I believe Damien doesn't mind money."

Nor, it seems, does Mr Dunphy.


Strictly no catwalk for designer Jodie

Jodie Kidd

'Been there, done that': Jodie Kidd says she has quit catwalk modelling

Supermodel Jodie Kidd may have danced herself back into svelte shape, but she insists the transformation will not mean her return to the catwalk.

The Strictly Come Dancing star (left), who denies being dropped by her agency when she gained weight, tells me she has now retired from modelling for good to focus on designing.

"I've been there and I've done that and I won't be going back to modelling again," she says. "I've had lots of approaches recently and large fashion houses have contacted me. It's flattering, but I'm not interested. I've moved on.

"I actually left the fashion business of my own accord  -  I wasn't dumped. You won't see me on the catwalk again."

Jodie, 29, who has just designed a new clothes range for fashion label Oli, adds: "I haven't done a fashion course, but I've had 15 years of the best training there is.

"I got to work closely with Karl Lagerfeld, who is a genius  -  though I don't call him up for advice. I think he's a bit too busy to come and look at my new trouser suit."


The day Diana's judge was cornered

Lord Justice Scott Baker has given a revealing insight into how he was handed the poisoned chalice of presiding over Princess Diana's inquest after being "cornered" over lunch with the Lord Chief Justice, who told him: "I want to ask a favour of you. Actually, it's rather a big favour."

Scott Baker notes: "I belong to the generation of those who if you are asked to do something, you tend to say yes  -  and certainly I don't regret it."

The judge says he went over the heads of Ministry of Justice officials to secure funding for the six-month-long inquest. "I wrote to Charlie Falconer (then Lord Chancellor) saying I can't be looking over my shoulder every five minutes to agree finances,'" he told Rotarians in Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway.

"We agreed a budget of £6.6million and we came in under budget by a couple of million pounds."

Scott Baker also told how the jury marked his 70th birthday last December by sending him a card, preserving their anonymity by signing themselves as juror one, two, three etc.


TV quiz star Anne Robinson has a new mode of transport since incurring a six-month driving ban for speeding eight weeks ago  -  and no, it's not a broomstick. The Weakest Link presenter has bought a bicycle.

"I still get chauffeured to the studio for recordings of The Weakest Link," Anne tells me at the Wallace Collection, where she and her bonny daughter Emma, 38, were among media folk for the relaunch of Reader's Digest.

Unfortunately, just before Portsmouth magistrates deprived her of her licence, Anne had a further motoring mishap. "I was caught speeding again and will have another four penalty points on my licence when I get it back," she says.


Beckwiths join the name game

Tamara Beckwith and her daughter Anouska

Mother and child: Tamara Beckwith and her daughter Anouska

Revealing his delight that his first child with his socialite wife Tamara Beckwith will be a girl, property heir Giorgio Veroni confesses he is less keen on following his native Italian tradition of picking a name from his relatives.

"It would be very Italian to choose a name from my family," says 36-year-old Giorgio, who married Tamara, 38, in Venice last year. "My mother is Marina and my grandmother Angelina  -  but I don't think either is quite right."

Meanwhile, Tamara is girding herself to squeeze her five-month bump into the outfit she will model at tonight's Fashion For Relief show for London Fashion Week.

"The dress wasn't designed for me to be pregnant," she tells me. "It was supposed to be fitted and sexy, but now looks a bit ridiculous."

At least Tamara will have some moral support  -  her 21-year-old daughter Anouska, whom she had at the age of 17 after she left Cheltenham Ladies' College, will join her on the catwalk.

"Anouska's walking with me and she'll look amazing," she says. "But she's lucky because everything fits her."


She didn't know it at the time, but interior designer Kelly Hoppen may just have employed the fastest chauffeur in the business.

For the shy young man who worked as her driver when she launched her company was motor-racing star Damon Hill.

"I was only 18 when I met Damon," Kelly, now 48, tells me at the launch of watchmaker TAG Heuer's Formula One exhibition at the Getty Images gallery.

"He was driving an old van and working as a handyman. He was bloody fast even then! It's hard not to have followed his career, it's amazing what he's done."



Veteran film director Michael Winner will be going back to his roots tonight when he delivers a lecture at the National Film Theatre.

It follows a screening of his 1968 film I'll Never Forget What's 'Is Name, which starred Oliver Reed and Orson Welles.

"I'll never forget Welles because he told me during filming that I was not treating him properly," Winner tells me. "He said that if he was filmed from below he looked fat. In fact, if Orson was filmed from a helicopter he still looked fat.

"But he wanted me to shoot him from eye-level or above and actually he was right  -  it does take pounds off you. It's a lovely conceit and it's a lesson I never forgot."

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