These are the 50 best connected gentlemen in London

From bankers to business tycoons, the British capital is home to some of the most plugged-in people in the world. Here, we get into who’s in the loop...

There are a lot of people in London. In fact, there are over eight million of us packed into the capital. But, while most of us have a reasonably slim little black book, others’ have rolodexes bulging with contacts and relationships and thousands upon thousands of names.

So who is the most well-connected gentleman in London? With the number of associations and affiliations possible, it’s obviously too tricky a question to answer definitively. But we’re pretty plugged-in ourselves here at Gentleman’s Journal — and have given a rundown of the top 50 our best shot…

Justin Byam Shaw, businessman

Chairman of the Evening Standard and The Independent, Justin Byam Shaw is the man behind some of the most widely read newspapers and online news outlets in the country. Understated and humble but deeply influential, Byam Shaw is most likely to be found swirling around media, political and business circles.

Ben Elliot, businessman

Founder of Quintessentially, one of the world’s premier concierge services, Elliot is the man who can facilitate the most outlandish and ostentatious whims and wants of the super-wealthy. Not only that, he also masterminded the London mayoral campaign for Zac Goldsmith and is the go-to guy for the capital’s philanthropic ventures.

John Bercow, politician

These are the 50 best connected gentlemen in London

Bercow may spend his day job shouting at boisterous MPs in the House of Commons, but he also holds a fair amount of sway over the wider political climate of Britain. The University of Essex graduate knows almost everyone in politics — and has probably given them a good telling off in the past, too.

Mark Carney, banker

It’s been six years since the Canadian stepped up to helm The Bank of England, and every financier in the city still hangs off his every word. And quite right, too — Carney remains one of the most trusted men in the city when it comes to financial predictions. Although perhaps he’s not as prophetic as all that; he does set the inflation rate, after all…

Sadiq Khan, politician

The Mayor of London, born the son of a bus driver, has had something of a meteoric rise to the top. And taking the top job after Boris Johnson, Khan had some big shoes to fill. It may have only been two years, but the number of new initiatives the Labour Mayor has introduced shows he’s more than a match for the old Etonian.

Boris Johnson, politician

These are the 50 best connected gentlemen in London

Speaking of Johnson, the divisive and charismatic MP jumped from the Mayor’s office to the coveted helm of the Foreign Office with (relative) ease before his hasty departure from the cabinet in July last year. (There’s also been some intermittent leadership-jostling in the mix) His connections run deep, too — from business links to an enviably far-reaching family tree.

Roland Rudd, PR executive

As the founder of one of the biggest financial consultancy firms in the country — Finsbury — Rudd is a stalwart of almost every board you could think of, and has been moving and shaking his way through the world of finance for years — ever since he was a reporter for the Financial Times.

Fraser Nelson, journalist

Nelson is the man running the show at The Spectator, and is widely regarded and praised as being one of the most influential and most talented editors working today. Under his command, the magazine has once-again become a bastion of political and social commentary, while the circulation figures have reached new heights — a steady hand in these confused times of fake news and ailing print media.

Dave Benett, photographer

Never underestimate the influence of a photographer. The ever present Benett has shot everyone from Prince to Princess Diana, and can be found shooting away at any party worth attending. The snapper knows everyone who’s anyone on first name terms, and they know just how important he is to their success. (And if he levels his lens at you, that’s a pretty good indicator that you’ve made it yourself.)

Robert Peston, journalist

Robert Peston shot to stratospheric fame thanks to his groundbreaking coverage of the financial crisis in 2008 (most notably his scoop on the crumbling of Northern Rock). Since then, he has written several political biographies, founded the charity Speakers for Schools and become a mainstay of any political conversation, where his direct yet personable style helps him cut to the heart of the most important stories.

Robin Birley, businessman

Birley is Mayfair’s panjandrum of taste and the man behind some of London’s most successful and chummy members club. A doyen of clubland for decades, the savvy businessman  launched the much-adored 5 Hertford Street in 2013 (the second home of the true London gentleman) and now Oswald’s — a decadent, beautiful dining room for wine aficionados over on Albemarle Street. 

Richard Caring, businessman

These are the 50 best connected gentlemen in London

The other mainstay of London’s club scene, Caring’s portfolio is truly vast. Jewels in the crown of Caprice Holdings (the entrepreneur’s behemothic holding group) include The Ivy, Annabel’s and Mark’s Club, making him perhaps the biggest transformative force at the high end of London’s hospitality scene. The far-reaching Caring brand was even once dubbed the LVMH of the hospitality world by the late, great restaurant critic A. A. Gill.

Nick Jones, businessman

Jones is the founder and mastermind by the much-imitated global juggernaut Soho House. With outposts springing up all over the world, the businessman’s network spreads just as far — and he is praised by the great and the good of the artistic community wherever the members-only club can be found.

Kim Jones, fashion designer

Now in charge of all things creative at Dior Homme, Kim Jones has been making his voice heard on the fashion scene for around 17 years. In that time he has worked and collaborated with some of the biggest names in fashion, art and design — and his current role, announced in March 2018, suggests his stock is only set to rise.

Edward Enninful, journalist

The editor-in-chief of British Vogue, Enninful has been at the forefront of the fashion game since he was just 18-years-old. He started out as the fashion director of i-D magazine — not something every teenager could do — and has gathered a coterie of influential friends on his journeys around the publishing world. Today, everyone in fashion knows his name.

George Osborne, editor and consultant

George Osborne has been earmarked for success ever since his early days in the conservative party, where he acted as a special advisor to various cabinet ministers and lately as a collaborator with then-leader William Hague. It was his alliance with David Cameron, however, that propelled him into the political stratosphere, most notable as Chancellor of the Exchequer during a turbulent time for Britain’s economy. Unlike Cameron, however, Osborne’s sway has not waned since leaving top-tier politics — he currently edits the Evening Standard, acts as chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, and is a part-time consultant to investment bank BlackRock

Sir Paul Smith, fashion designer

These are the 50 best connected gentlemen in London

A Friend to Gentleman’s Journal, not to mention one of the most recognisable, long-standing faces in the fashion world, Smith has had a invaluable impact on British style. His signature stripe has become an icon in itself, and his influence can be seen across, art, design, fragrance, and even his beloved sport of cycling.

Jonathan Barnett, sports agent

Possibly the most successful football agent currently working, Barnett has a client list longer, more talented and more widespread than anyone else. In his current superstar crop, Gareth Bale and Jesse Lingard stand almost as tall in the sporting world as his first client, cricketer Brian Lara.

Eddie Hearn, sports promoter

Hearn has organised some of the biggest boxing matches Britain has ever seen, in part thanks to his affiliation with boxing wunderkind, Anthony Joshua. The managing director of Matchroom Sports, a company his father founded in 1980s, Hearn is a heavyweight in his own right.

Seb Coe, olympian

He may have won two Olympic golds back in the day, but Lord Coe more recently shone as the mastermind behind the London 2012 Games and is now the president of the IAAF and the most well-connected man in the world of athletics. There is very little on or off the track that Coe isn’t up to speed with.

Zac Goldsmith, politician

These are the 50 best connected gentlemen in London

A softly-spoken and conscientious figure in both local and national politics, Goldsmith narrowly missed out on his bid to be Mayor of London in 2016. An environmentalist and journalist, Goldsmith is as well connected through his own endeavours as through his family links.

Jay Jopling, gallerist

One of the leading lights in modern art dealing, Jopling has worked closely with some of the most powerful and bankable artists of his generation, ever since he opened up his first gallery on Duke Street in 1993. Since that early triumph, Jopling has been committed to challenging the establishment of Old Masters dealers, and breathing fresh life into the world of art.

Jeremy King, restaurateur

As one of the biggest names of the hospitality industry, Jeremy King has opened some of the most widely recognised and most booked-out restaurants in the capital. From The Wolseley to Brasserie Zedel, everyone in London wants to eat in one of King’s restaurants — which makes him the man to know.

Nick Grimshaw, broadcaster

These are the 50 best connected gentlemen in London

Though he was the Radio 1 Breakfast Show for six years (and endured all of the early mornings that entails), Grimshaw still managed to keep his enviable profile up in London’s fast-paced nightlife scene. Friends with everyone and instantly likeable, the DJ has long entertained the great and the good of the showbiz world with his characteristic flair and down to earth humour. 

Geordie Greig, journalist

Greig holds the reins of the Daily Mail, arguably the most influential publication in the country. But his reach goes far beyond the press. A natural charmer and understated connector, Greig has remarkable soft power across business, the wider media landscape and the world of philanthropy. In 2005, The Observer even labelled Greig “Britain’s most connected man”. 

André Balazs, hotelier

A trusted hotel magnate and best friend to the globetrotting-class, Balazs is the man behind celebrity hotspot Chiltern Firehouse and the party palazzo Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, which he restored to its former Golden Era glory after buying it in 1990. 

Sir Martin Sorrell, businessman

If you had founded the world’s largest PR and Advertising group, you’d have a pretty long contact list, too. Sorrell, founder of the far-reaching behemoth WPP plc, may have retired from the CEO role last year, but his influence in the fast-paced world of advertising, marketing and public relations will linger for decades to come. In May 2018, Sorrell launched S4 Capital, a new media, data and content business using $53m of his own money and a further $15m raised from investors. It has since acquired at least two powerful competitors. 

Nick Timothy, political advisor

The man who can be credited for Theresa May’s rocky climb to the political summit, Nick Timothy was brought in as the now-PM’s special advisor when she took the role of Home Secretary. He called the shots. He pulled the strings. He made the contacts.

Nicholas Coleridge, chairman

These are the 50 best connected gentlemen in London

Chairman of Condé Nast Britain, The V&A Museum, Prince of Wales’ Campaign for Wool and the Gilbert Trust for the Arts, Nicholas Coleridge has his fingers in more pies than almost anyone else in the capital. Naturally, the debonair and immaculately-tailored raconteur has a powerful network that spans media, business, fashion, the arts and philanthropy.  

Hugo Campbell-Davys, businessman

Campbell-Davys started Urbanologie, the invitation-only, luxury lifestyle app that helps the super wealthy get exactly what they want — when they want it. Many have already labelled him London’s best-connected man, due to the uncanny breadth of his relationships.

Brent Hoberman, businessman

After founding, floating and selling lastminute.com, Hoberman has done more for British entrepreneurship than perhaps any other figure (and he’s got the contact book to prove it). An angel investor, advisor and arch-strategist, the ingenious businessman has earned a CBE for his work in entrepreneurship.

Rufus Norris, theatre director

As the current director of the National Theatre, Norris has had a more storied career in the theatrical wings than almost anyone else in London. His recent production of Macbeth (with Rory Kinnear in the title role) sent ripples around the theatrical world.

Guy Ritchie, director

Possibly one of the most talented and influential directors working in Britain right now, Ritchie has collaborated with the very best that Hollywood has to offer. After a successful series of cult British classics — including Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, — actors now clamour to work with the boy from Hatfield. His next film will be the blockbusting live-action Aladdin, which stars the effervescent Will Smith.

Charles Vallance, businessman

O2, First Direct, Sony, BMW, Land Rover, Coca-Cola, Heineken, Dyson and Compare the Market — just some of the companies whose reputation and bottom line Charles Vallance has improved. His advertising company VCCP has helped these brands and launch their memorable (and profitable) campaigns with his advertising nous and strategic intelligence.

George Bamford, businessman

These are the 50 best connected gentlemen in London

The latest businessman in the JCB dynasty, Bamford’s eponymous watch company has created some of the most distinct timepieces on the market through its high level of bespoke customisation. In 2015, Banorfd diversified when he teamed up with his mother, who already ran a successful women’s grooming business, by creating a line of male products under the Bamford Grooming Department moniker. Diversity of this kind has boosted the entrepreneur’s stock and bolstered his bulging contact book.

Alan Yentob, television executive

Holding the job of Creative Director at the BBC for 11 years meant Yentob was the strong centre of the country’s flagship media outlet. The man who got all your favourite shows past the bureaucratic mayhem of the Beeb, Yentob has a long list of powerful friends and collaborators across the creative industries.

Sam Branson, social entrepreneur

The son of Britain’s best-known entrepreneur, Sam Branson has clearly inherited his father’s passion for philanthropy (not to mention his boundless energy). But he’s not been one to rest on his laurels, either. Now married to Isabella Calthorpe (with whom he’s formed something of a power couple), Branson is the brains behind Big Change films, a documentary studio with a social conscience. 

Sir Rocco Forte, hotelier

Forte is a hotelier extraordinaire, and knows more about the hospitality trade than perhaps anyone else in the industry. The proprietor of a raft of notable hotels — including Brown’s Hotel in London, the Villa Kennedy in Frankfurt and the Hotel Savoy in Florence — Forte has earned many friends and admirers in very high places indeed.

David Linley, designer and businessman

These are the 50 best connected gentlemen in London

One of the premier furniture designers in London, Linley’s elegant yet masculine aesthetic has gilded some of the finest homes in the country (and afforded him a powerful set of admirers in the process). The Queen’s nephew, Linley has deep roots in the royal court and beyond. 

Lionel Barber, journalist

The editor of the Financial Times since 2005, Barber has risen to the top thanks to his reputation as one of the hardest working, most courteous and most rigorous journalists to ever work in the city. He’s also a keen cricketer and wonderful raconteur.

Evgeny Lebedev, businessman

The Russian-British owner of The Independent, Evening Standard and London Live, Lebedev is known throughout London’s intermingled business and social circles as a man of influence and good taste. His parties (whether in private or for the likes of the Evening Standard Theatre Awards) are the thing of legend, and he is admired for his impassioned defence of quality journalism and print media. 

Matthew Freud, PR executive

Described by PRWeek as ‘the most influential PR professional in the UK,’ Matthew Freud founded his eponymous firm in 1985, and has been at the very, very top of the industry ever since, guiding public perception and opinion with precision and aplomb. 

Ewan Venters, businessman

Venters is the man in charge of Fortnum & Mason, one of the most decadent and delicious department stores to ever open its turquoise doors. An amiable and charismatic charmer, Venters has a wide group of friends and professional collaborators (and we can imagine it’s not too hard to keep your entire contact book sweet with Christmas hampers like his).

Jonny Goodwin, financier

The Financial Times labelled Goodwin as ‘one of London’s best-connected media dealmakers’, which is an accurate summary of the financier’s power. A founding partner at Lepe Partners, an independent merchant bank working in new media and technology sectors. With Brent Hoberman, the deal-maker also co-founded Founders Forum, the all-powerful network of digital entrepreneurs and notable investors. 

Tyler Brûlé, journalist

Journalist and publisher Brûlé is best known as the brains behind Monocle, the mould-breaking print magazine that has spawned a host of imitators and defined an entire corner of modern urban living. The entrepreneur also launched Wallpaper in 1996, the influential style and design magazine, and has amassed an enviable array of accolades and contacts across the creative industries. 

Henry Wyndham, auctioneer

These are the 50 best connected gentlemen in London

Wyndham, the former chairman of Sotheby’s europe, has been rightfully dubbed ‘the best auctioneer in the business’ — and he’s the man you want holding the gavel if you ever put an heirloom up for auction. Unfortunately for the great bidding public, the storied orator is now retired — but his connections remain invaluable, and he nows runs Clore Wyndham, a fine art advisory on Bruton Street in Mayfair. 

Reuben Brothers, businessmen

The most recent Sunday Times Rich List placed the Reuben brothers’ worth at £15.1bn thanks to their investment in the Millbank Tower and Centre, not to mention vast swathes of Mayfair and four miles of seafront in Ibiza. But their original wealth came from a combined portfolio in scrap metal and carpets.

Paddy Harverson, journalist and PR exec

After rising through the ranks at the Financial Times, Harverson made the jump up north to become the Director of Communications for Manchester United during their most successful period under Sir Alex Ferguson. After dealing with the princes of the Premier League, Harverson moved to become Communications Secretary to the Prince of Wales during one of the most turbulent times in modern royal history. Then, after nine years at Kensington Palace, he hopped into the private sector to become a Managing Partner of Milltown Partners LLP, the renowned yet secretive reputation and public relations manager.

Juan Santa Cruz, restaurateur

Owner of two of London’s hottest restaurants, Isabel’s and Casa Cruz, Juan Santa Cruz has risen to the top of the hospitality game through his incredibly detailed approach to his eateries and his contact list. And he hasn’t stopped, opening up his latest venture, Nathlie, a high-end sandwich shop in December last year.

Pierre LaGrange, financier

These are the 50 best connected gentlemen in London
Credit: Tom Cockram

A financier and entrepreneur with an exacting eye for both business and art, LaGrange first made his name as one of the most successful managers in the hedge fund boom of the 90s.  Today, the Belgian businessman is a well-known and deeply admired presence across the financial world, Hollywood and the art scene — not to mention a serious player down on Savile Row, where he has transformed the fortunes of the much-loved Huntsman tailors.

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Further Reading