A couple of years ago we made a documentary about Eddie Davenport – a socialite, a self-styled "Lord" and a big sex party guy, who was jailed after defrauding his victims out of millions of pounds.
Today, he's back in the news, as it's been alleged he organised the New Year's Eve party in Mayfair where bouncer Tudor Simionov was stabbed in the chest while trying to stop gatecrashers from entering. The 33-year-old, who died from his injuries, had moved to London from Romania with his girlfriend in search of "a better life", and has been praised for trying to stop the gang of nine men from getting into the party, where – sources told the Metro – there were "a lot of brass [high class escorts]" and "everything was available".
Eddie Davenport's law firm maintains that he did not organise the party, take any money from clients or pay anyone to promote the party, saying, "The instructions I have got from him is that he was not there and does not hold events there. It was not Mr Davenport's party. He does not rent that property and that party was nothing to do with him. VICE tried to reach him for an interview personally but received no reply. However, witnesses claimed that Davenport had organised the event as a private party before word reached "the bad element".
But who is the Eddie Davenport in the crossfire of these conflicting statements?
According to his website, he's "one of London's most flamboyant and best-known entrepreneurs, as well as a true English gentleman from an established British family". There might be some truth to parts of that – he's flamboyant, but not exactly one of the best known entrepreneurs in London – but largely it's a description of the persona Eddie has built over decades of throwing parties, hanging out with celebrities and buying and living in former international embassies.
Educated at a boarding school in the English countryside, Eddie moved to London in the 1980s and identified a gap in the nightlife market that he thought he could fill: parties for posh kids. At the age of 20, with his friend Jeremy Taylor, he threw the first Gatecrasher Ball – a lavish black tie event for privileged teenagers. The first one was full to capacity, setting the standard for those that followed.
Alexander Reynolds, who was hired by Eddie as a party photographer, described the Gatecrasher Balls in an article for VICE as "classy affairs, chock-full of bodies boozing, snogging, shagging, snorting [and] puking", where "the Ruperts and Georginas, the Tamsins and Rorys were murdering the dance floor with two left feet on a purple carpet of snakebite puke and Marlboro cigarette butts".
The parties became a £250,000 a year business and rumbled along for a few years, until the taxman caught up with Eddie about unpaid VAT on ticket sales. He protested his innocence, saying he was just a kid who didn't know what he was doing, but his defence failed: in November of 1990, the judge in his case sentenced him to nine months in prison, before Eddie had his sentence suspended on appeal.
His next memorable move was obtaining the 110-room former Sierra Leonian embassy in Mayfair while the country was embroiled in civil war. The building, 33 Portland Place, was in need of serious repairs, so Eddie leased it from the country's government, agreeing to foot the bill for the refurbishments and return it to Sierra Leone when he was done. When Eddie decided he was going to live there permanently, Sierra Leone took legal action, which ended in Eddie settling out of court and keeping the building.
It was there that Eddie really took to his self-styled "Lord" title, after being given the moniker by a Daily Mail journalist and later claiming that he had the right to use it because of a property he once owned in Shropshire. He threw lavish events and sex parties at Portland Place, inviting – and then taking selfies with – aristocracy and celebrities from Kate Moss to Lee Ryan from Blue, Thandie Newton to Paris Hilton. It was also while living there that he and others cooked up the fraud that would see him sentenced to nearly eight years in prison.
The scam consisted of concocting a finance company called Gresham Ltd, to run what's known as an advance fee fraud. Eddie and his co-conspirators promised to finance more than 50 commercial loans in return for large down-payments, which they claimed were "loan guarantees" or "deposits", totalling millions of pounds. In 2009, Eddie – along with six others – was arrested and charged with conspiracy to obtain money by deception, conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and money laundering.
In September of 2011, Eddie was convicted on a single count of fraud and sentenced to eight years and seven months by a judge who called him a "very, very dishonest man". We spoke to Eddie about his time in HMP Wandsworth, where – he claimed – he played a lot of badminton with the armed robber John Slavin, met a couple of Anonymous hackers and was served lobster for lunch (we asked the Ministry of Justice about that and they said lobster has never been served to a prisoner at HMP Wandsworth).
During his sentence, Eddie underwent a kidney transplant while in handcuffs – related to the kidney failure that eventually saw him released after serving just three years, as an "act of mercy". Of his time in prison, he told VICE it was "just an experience. Not the best one and not the worst one."Since being released he's mostly stayed out of the press, until these recent headlines.
A 26-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering Tudor Simionov and is in custody. Club promoter Leroy Rose, who witnessed the attack, told the Evening Standard: "He was a nice guy. The nicest one of all the security guards there. He is a hero, he died trying to save his colleagues."