The first golden cat went missing on the Monday. By Friday afternoon, you knew the place was going to be a hit. Casual theft of this kind is a side effect of every successful restaurant in town, after all. Bibendum, down on plummy Sloane Avenue, used to churn through hundreds of chubby, Michelin Man ashtrays a month for most of the eighties.
Chef Tom Aikens almost came to physical blows with a hedge funder in 2004 when, after a £600 dinner, he accused her of stealing a silver coffee spoon from his eponymous two-Michelin-starred Fulham restaurant. “I’m standing there with my Celine dress and Cartier bag,” the customer screamed as Tom barred the exit. “Do I look like the sort of person who would steal a spoon ?”‘ Short answer: yes.
Over at Quaglino’s, during its louche 1990s resurrection, it was the art deco, Q-shaped ashtrays that went for a five finger discount — 25,000 of them, apparently, wandered up that grand staircase in the space of a decade (but then they were designed by Sir Terence Conran himself and did double up, rather nicely, as salt-and-pepper dishes). At Virgin Atlantic it was always the very sweet engine-shaped pepper pots in the business class lounge that went astray (in a typical quirk of Bransonian flair, the company eventually began engraving the words “Pinched from Virgin Atlantic” on the base.) Rihanna likes to steal glassware from Nobu, apparently.
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