In the final part of our secret power brokers series, we reveal the capital’s best-connected
Nicola Mendelshon, chairman and partner, Karmarama
The first female chairman of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) is the ultimate networker – as wife of Labour fundraiser Jon Mendelsohn she also has access to London’s political elite. She has the former prime minister Gordon Brown as well as supermodel Elle Macpherson on speed-dial. The Manchester-born advertising powerhouse graduated in English and Drama and then embarked on a career in advertising in 1992. She also finds time to work for charities Women’s Aid and White Ribbon.
Board of Women’s Aid and is a former president of WAC
Dasha Zhukova, entrepreneur, model and editor
The success of Dasha Zhukova fashion brand Kova & T as well as her arts work in Moscow has put her on the global fashion map. In 2008, Dasha founded the IRIS foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting contemporary culture. The long-term girlfriend of Roman Abramovich, she gave birth to the couple’s first child last year. However, she has shown no signs of slowing down and has just launched the first issue of her own art magazine, Garage.
Count Manfredi della Gherardesca, director, MDG Fine Arts
As the director of London-based MDG Fine Arts, the Count is the go-to guy for London’s wealthiest individuals, corporations and museums. A former chairman of Sotheby’s Italy, Manfredi sits on the board of many companies and charities and has homes in Notting Hill and Tuscany. As the financial crisis has deepened his role in sourcing art for London’s elite has blossomed.
Pablo Ganguli, founder, Liberatum
Aged only 27, the self-styled “cultural diplomat” knows many of London’s most creative people, from Stephen Frears and Daphne Guinness to Martin Amis. His company Liberatum is behind high-profile events such as Istancool, and the St Peter’s Ball. While his company claims to specialise in the “import and export of ideas” all of these ideas are powered by Ganguli’s legendary contact book.
John Studzinski, senior managing director, Blackstone Group
The senior managing director at Blackstone Group is a leading light of London’s uber-social, uber-wealthy arts scene, and known for his casual dressing, earnestness and ability to attend every art-opening in town. Some see him as the ultimate benefactor; he made a commitment of £5m towards the development of Tate Modern. As patron of the Genesis Foundation, an organisation that funds young talent across the performing and visual arts Studzinski is at the heart of an increasingly philanthropic London networking scene.
DJ Collins, vice president public policy and Comms EMEA, Google
PR Week describes him as “Google god” and named him the most powerful person in technology PR this year. Well connected in the political and business world, he is known in the trade as a “relentless networker”. Collins is a former head of news at the Department for Education and Skills and also worked at Weber Shandwick.
Nick Jones, chief executive, Soho House
The former marketing manager at Grosvenor House Hotel is an expert in self-promotion. He is successfully taking the London-born Soho House brand global. With members spanning from the CEO of Spotify to Graham Norton, Soho House remains the go-to place for London’s ultimate networkers to wind down, while still building their connections. Jones with his wife, broadcaster Kirsty Young, frequents his clubs on a weekly basis.
Goga Ashkenazi, chair and director, MunaiGaz Engineering Group
The ultimate of social empire builders, Ashkenazi owns gold mines, is chairman of the MunaiGaz Engineering Group and is on the board of the Ivanhoe Mining Group. She describes herself as a “very flirty” girl and is best known for having a social network to die for. Prince Andrew is said to be besotted by her. The Renault motor racing chief Flavio Briatore is a former lover, as is the telecoms tycoon Dino Lalvani. She was born in the Zhambyl region of Kazakhstan and came to London aged 13 with her mother and started her meteoric social rise.
Johan Eliasch, chairman and CEO, Head NV and environmental benefactor
A man of many talents, John Eliasch was a former deputy treasurer and adviser to the Tory Party before shifting his allegiances to Gordon Brown and becoming his representative on the environment. Born in Sweden he set up the Rainforest Trust in 2005 and is known for bringing key business leaders, politicians and socialites together. After a public divorce from his ex-wife, the artist Amanda (she had a well-publicised affair with the French plastic surgeon Dr Jean Louis), he has since been linked to Hollywood A-lister Sharon Stone.
Richard Dennen, journalist
“Is there a point to Richard Dennen?” asks an internet forum? Well, for some Londoners at least the answer is yes. The Tatler writer, who compiles the magazine’s infamous annual Little Black Book list of Society’s Singletons (topped this year by Pippa Middleton, obviously), writes about the ups and downs of London’s young socialites. Dennen remains the guilty pleasure of choice for London’s ultimate networkers who are far too busy to keep up with the shifting sands of London’s social scene.