EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Tapestry dealers face off in £1 million High Court battle

Usually found selling historic works to the rich and famous at the only purpose-built tapestry and textile gallery in the world, Simon Franses faces an appearance in the very different surroundings of London’s High Court.

I can disclose that he has become embroiled in a £1 million legal row over a collection of tapestries with fellow collector and dealer Nathan Levi.

Franses — who runs the prestigious S Franses gallery on Jermyn Street in St James’s, London — fell out with Levi, who says they settled their dispute with an agreement for S Franses Ltd to buy 27 of his tapestries and carpets.

Franses already had most of the items in his possession, and Levi was to deliver the rest to him by the end of March 2020, with Franses agreeing to pay 1 million euros, according to a High Court writ.

Levi says he tried to deliver the remaining tapestries and carpets to the gallery, but it was closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and Franses did not respond to his solicitor’s letter.

Art dealer Simon Franses has become embroiled in a £1 million legal row over a collection of tapestries with fellow collector and dealer Nathan Levi, writes RICHARD EDEN

Franses (right) has fallen out with Levi, who says they settled their dispute with an agreement for S Franses Ltd to buy 27 of his tapestries and carpets

Franses (right) has fallen out with Levi, who says they settled their dispute with an agreement for S Franses Ltd to buy 27 of his tapestries and carpets

Franses’s solicitors emailed in May 2021 refusing to take delivery of the items, and argued that the agreement relied on them being delivered by March 31, 2020, which did not happen.

As a result, they contended that the agreement became ineffective, and the position reverted to earlier agreements made in 2019, the writ says.

Levi, who lives in Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, is seeking payment of 1 million euros, as well as storage charges of £1,165 a month from April 2020 to October 2023, and continuing to run at £40 a month, as well as interest of £341,000.

Levi had also wanted Franses’s agreement to his sale of his half share of the tapestry Pergola With Single Vase.

Harvey Smith’s show jump fury 

Celebrated showjumper Harvey Smith, 85, hasn’t lost his irascible edge.

‘It all started to go downhill when the military men were replaced by people who did not know enough about the sport or even organising events properly,’ the proud Yorkshireman says of the current state of the equestrian pursuit.

‘The courses were like a scene from the British countryside with gates, walls, water jumps, hedges.

‘Now it’s just poles, poles and more poles — no imagination and very far removed from what showjumping is all about.’

One wouldn’t expect anything less from the jumper who famously directed a V-sign to the sport’s administrators after his 1971 Hickstead victory.

Having been described as the ‘Willy Wonka of eyewear’, it’s no surprise Tom Davies designed glasses for the new film. But sometimes even the British designer takes his own eye off the ball.

‘A few weeks ago I became the last person in the world to catch up on TV’s Succession,’ Davies tells me. ‘I looked at Logan Roy’s spectacles and thought, ‘They look familiar’.’ Indeed they were.

Davies had designed them for Brian Cox’s character back in 2017. ‘The producers said they were doing a TV series that might air in the U.S. but didn’t have high hopes for it so it fell off my radar.’

Four series, 75 Emmy nominations and 13 wins later, it appears no one saw that coming.

Fancy a holiday in Afghanistan? TV adventurer Levison Wood says tourists should consider visiting the country controlled by the brutal Taliban. ‘Whether you want to spend money in a country that’s ruled by a regime is a personal choice,’ says the former soldier, who is promoting his book Escape From Kabul.

‘Tourism is a force for change that encourages dialogue and communication. If you’ve got the cojones to visit, go.’

Liz and Arun reunite for New Year 

No one was more delighted to see Liz Hurley cosying up to ex-husband, Arun Nayar, at a New Year’s Eve party than her son, Damian.

He shared this jolly photograph of Liz, wearing a sequined mini dress and silver heels, sitting almost on the textiles heir’s lap. ‘Mama and daddy,’ commented Damian, 21.

While his biological father was the late American film producer Steve Bing, Damian regarded Nayar as a parental figure. Nayar, 59, married the 58-year-old actress when

Damian was aged five. They were married for four years until 2011.

Violins Nigel Kennedy says his dog, Huxley, had a greater influence on his creative life than his mentors, including Yehudi Menuhin.

Huxley died two years ago, but Kennedy says: ‘He taught me more simple values. All I want to do is get up in the morning and play the violin and if I’ve got food, and camaraderie, love, exercise — those are the only things a dog wants whereas we all want more.’

Hot legs! Rod and sons in kilts for Hogmanay 

BORN and raised in London, Sir Rod Stewart nevertheless became a devoted Scotland football and rugby supporter, thanks to his Scottish father, Robert.

And the singer, 78, appears to have persuaded his sons to share his affiliation.

Alastair, 18, and Aiden, 12, joined him in wearing kilts at the five-star Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, where they celebrated New Year’s Eve, or Hogmanay, as it’s known north of the border.

Sir Rod’s wife, Penny Lancaster, 52, wore a sleeveless dress with a red faux-fur jacket. ‘A dedication to my wonderful Scottish father,’ the star says of their outfits.

Sir Rod, whose hits include Sailing and Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?, has six other children by four different women.

Trees stump Cat’s renovation plans 

Cat Deeley and Patrick Kielty’s plans for a dream new home have been stumped by troublesome trees.

The married television presenters have snapped up a £5 million derelict house in Hampstead, North London, where their neighbours include pop superstar Harry Styles. They’re planning a Grand Designs-style makeover complete with a nanny suite, guest room, his and hers dressing rooms, bar, snug and children’s play area.

Troublesome trees have stumped Cat Deeley's plans to renovate a derelict home in Hamptead, north London

Troublesome trees have stumped Cat Deeley’s plans to renovate a derelict home in Hamptead, north London

But a survey revealed that huge 65ft trees are causing cracking and movement in a rear garden boundary wall. The couple have now applied to the local council for planning permission to chop down two conifers and a privet to prevent further damage.

They need consent because the trees are protected by a preservation order and lie in a designated conservation area.

Officials at Camden Council are expected to make a decision later this month.

Follow me on X @richardaeden and on Instagram @edenconfidential richard.eden@dailymail.co.uk 

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