Soho’s private members club The Groucho Club has been bought by an independent hospitality business in a deal reported to be worth around £40 million.
The predominately female-founded club in London’s Soho will join venues such as The Fife Arms in Braemar, northern Scotland, Manuela in Los Angeles, and the soon-to-open Audley Public House in Mayfair that are owned by Artfarm.
The deal reportedly cost just under £40 million, according to someone familiar with the purchase.
The club was previously under the ownership of a group of private investors comprising of Alcuin Capital Partners, which has Caffe Nero amongst its portfolio, ICG Enterprise Trust and Isfield Investments, together with a number of private investors.
The acquisition marks the third time that Groucho has changed hands since it was founded in 1985.
Groucho has become a “spiritual home” to the city’s famous artists, musicians, writers and media figures, with artist and member Damien Hirst famously putting his £20,000 Turner Prize winnings behind the bar.
It is also renowned for being decorated with a contemporary collection of around 150 works of art, by artists including Francis Bacon, Tracey Emin and Gavin Turk.
Buyer Artfarm – a six-year-old business run by the founders of art gallery Hauser & Wirth – said it plans to respect the history and traditions of the club while welcoming new members.
Boss Ewan Venters headed luxury department store Fortnum & Mason for eight years and is a member of Groucho.
Mr Venters said: “As a member for some time myself, I understand the special place the Groucho occupies in London’s cultural landscape.
“Under Artfarm’s ownership, the future of the club is assured.
“We will respect the history and traditions of the club, and we look forward to engaging with its membership to create a long-term future for the Groucho that builds on its eclectic appeal and maverick ethos.”
Founders of Groucho include Australian writer Carmen Callil, publisher Liz Calder and American literary agent Ed Victor, who set it up as an alternative to male-dominated private members clubs.