Meurice / St Regis - Salvador Dali
Famous guests at famous hotels leave behind an enduring legacy. More than once a hotel builds a solid PR-campaign on them. Let's take Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali, (1904-1989), a man noted for his personal flamboyance; for his tight-fisted nature; and for his pioneering role in the development of surrealism, as exemplified by such paintings as Persistence of Memory (1931) and in such films as Un Chien Andalou (with Luis Bunuel, 1929)]Whenever Dali was in town the lobbies of the St Regis in New York or the Hotel Meurice in Paris would be full of anonymous-looking businessmen with attache cases and absorbed expressions. Several hundred contracts would be proposed to the artist in any one particular year and of these about 50 would come to fruition. They included, in 1970, a 15-second commercial on French television during which Dali rolled his eyes roguishly and said, 'I am mad, I am completely mad - over Lanvin chocolates.' He was paid $10,000." Among the few propositions to which Dali disagreed? A proposal from an American businessman to open a chain of "Dalicatessens." Dali called him crazy and threw him out.At the famous Paris hotel Meurice situated on Rue Rivoli, Dali enjoyed various long-term stays in the French capital. Once Dali reserved the entire floor where he enjoyed cruising the corridors on his bicycle. In search of inspiration, Dali would demand a herd of goats to be delivered to the hotel to shoot them with plastic bullets. In his late days he used to earn himself some extra cash by answering personal requests for an autograph in the lobby of the Meurice with the simple reply: 'That's ten dollars.' He pocketed the money and autographed for the collector.
(picture: a device used to reduce the bubbles in champagne. From the famoushotels archives)