Gentleman’s club famous for ‘nieces’ night’ considers admitting Odey

Gentleman’s club famous for ‘nieces’ night’ considers admitting Odey

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Buck’s, the exclusive Mayfair gentleman’s club favoured by royals, military officers and financiers, is facing a revolt among members after disgraced hedge fund manager Crispin Odey was put forward to join. 

Odey, whose eponymous hedge fund firm unravelled last year after the Financial Times detailed multiple allegations of sexual assault or harassment against him over decades, has been named on a list of prospective members at Buck’s.

Members at Buck’s told the FT that Odey’s prospective membership had caused uproar among existing members worried about being linked to the hedge fund manager given the nature of the allegations against him. 

“He’s just not someone we want to be associated with,” one member said.

Others, however, are said to be supportive, noting that he has not been charged for the alleged conduct reported by the FT and that he was acquitted of indecent assault against one woman in 2021.

Buck’s would not comment citing the privacy of its members. Odey declined to comment.

Like the Garrick Club, Buck’s has faced its controversy over its all-male membership rules. It has also been criticised for continuing an event where older members have dinner with a rotating roster of younger female guests.

The event is officially called ‘The Bond Street Horticultural Society’ but among members at Buck’s it is referred to as “nieces’ night”. Women are allowed to attend Buck’s as guests but cannot become members.

Odey has strenuously denied the majority of allegations reported by the FT last year. He has admitted only one incident, saying he was under “heavy medication” following dentistry work when he grabbed an employee’s breasts in 2005.

He was also accused of rape in a civil hearing this month, a claim he has not yet commented on.

The prominent financier was ejected from his Odey Asset Management fund last year but has taken steps to try to rebuild his career and position in London society.

Accounts filed in February for his holding company Odey Asset Management Group Ltd said he is “exploring alternative business opportunities”, without elaborating.

Buck’s has an illustrious past and present membership list. King Charles used to regularly play for the club’s polo team and the late Queen Mother was reported to enjoy frequenting the elegant townhouse on Clifford Street, next to Savile Row. Its club secretary, Rupert Lendrum, was once equerry to King Charles when he was the Prince of Wales.

The then Prince Charles playing polo at Cirencester Polo Club.  The prince Is wearing a blue polo shirt with the team name “Buck’s” written across it.
King Charles used to regularly play for the Buck’s polo team © Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Members past and present include former Conservative prime minister Sir John Major, actor Sir Christopher Lee and Captain Mark Phillips, Princess Anne’s former husband.

Odey’s prospective membership, and the controversy it has stoked within Buck’s, comes during a period of heightened scrutiny for London’s gentleman’s club scene. 

The Garrick Club, favoured by lawyers and artists, has seen a number of high-profile members resign, including MI6 head Sir Richard Moore and Simon Case, head of the civil service, after the Guardian revealed its members list and raised questions over its continued refusal to allow women to join.

All-male clubs are seen by many critics as denying professional women equal networking opportunities, though they argue they officially frown on business discussions and put tight restrictions on the use of laptops and mobile phones.

The listing for Odey’s prospective membership at Buck’s, seen by the FT, states he is also a member of the Garrick Club alongside two other men-only establishments, White’s and the Beefsteak Club.

Buck’s, founded in 1919 by army officers looking for a less stuffy atmosphere, is best known as the originator of the Buck’s Fizz cocktail. It has made efforts to attract younger members in recent years and retains close ties to the military.

The club’s bar has three cricket stumps painted where members are said to enjoy raucous late night games. The majority of prospective members seen on the list by the FT are under the age of 40.

Odey, 65, has been put forward for membership, which is only accessible by nomination, by Alexander Phillips at Smith Square Partners. Phillips did not respond to requests for comment.

His bid would require the support of 10 existing members but will not “go in the book” for candidates until the middle of April. So far it has no supporters, according to the list, while other candidates put forward at the same time have already attracted a number of supportive signatures.

Odey’s pastimes are listed on the form as “golf and shooting” and he lists his occupation as “investor”. Other prospective members at Buck’s include oil brokers, barristers, historians and investment bankers, according to the list.

Video: Crispin Odey: the fall of a hedge fund maverick | FT Film