He was the international playboy who threw fantasy porn discos, filled swimming pools with cognac and entertained VIPs including Kate Moss and Princes William and Harry, but in reality ‘Lord’ Davenport – aka ‘Fast Eddie’ was a con artist who scammed his victims out of millions. The Daily Mail reports that the 46-year-old, who is currently doing an eight-year sentence for conspiracy to defraud, was the ringmaster of a £34.5million pound fraud. But on his website, Davenport still claims to be ‘one of London’s most flamboyant and best known entrepreneurs as well as a true English gentleman from an established British family’. After attending one of his huge parties in his heyday, I believe he was able to pull off scams on such a grand scale by using many of the same techniques as Michael Caine’s posh con artist in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
Davenport claimed to be an entrepreneur and angel investor, but before delivering the start-up money, he charged his clients for expensive ‘due diligence’ investigations into their businesses. Then the money never materialized, and Davenport pocketed the cash. Like many con artists, Davenport is all style and no substance. But he was charming, told people what they wanted to hear, threw killer parties and – most importantly – made people want to be part of his (fake) exclusive world. He drove a fleet of supercars and was always immaculately turned out in Savile row suits and Patek Philippe watches. His charisma meant he was able to con super-wealthy clients, but had also no qualms about taking money from those less fortunate: He scammed Princess Diana’s wedding dress designer for £5,000 at a time when her business was struggling.
FANTASY: Davenport claimed to have a £100million property portfolio in Britain, Thailand and Monaco, make generous donations to charity, and have connections with royalty.
REALITY: Many of his celebrity connections were just glorified photobombs, and he often misspelled the names of his VIP pals like ‘Fifty Cent’. But once he’d been seen with one high-profile person, it was easier to attract more.
FANTASY: He’s an entrepreneur with a respected background in business – and his company had a prestigious 50-year history.
REALITY: Davenport made his name running the debauched Gatecrasher parties in the 80s, and went to jail in 1990 for tax evasion. His company Gresham Ltd. was founded in 2005 and its sole purpose was defrauding people. After his first experience in jail, Davenport became more careful. He often used the name ‘John Stewart’ in business dealings , and as one judge put it ‘he did not leave very many footprints in the snow himself’. Truth was sometimes stranger than fiction: Davenport’s partner-in-crime Peter Riley allegedly did a lot of the dirty work – including inventing characters like a lawyer in Monaco named Louis Martin (like Steve Martin in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels). He even sent fake correspondence in broken English.
FANTASY: The blurb beneath detailed impeccable credentials and described him as ‘a true English gentleman’, backed up by a lofty aristocratic title and an impressive looking family tree.
REALITY: ‘Fast Eddie’ bought his title. He was born Edward Ormus Sharington Davenport in July 1966, the son of a successful Chelsea restauranteur – not a land-owning peer. He claims the Lord is an affectionate nickname bestowed on him by friends on account of his lavish lifestyle. When he acquired a property in Staffordshire, the Lord of Giffords title came along with it.
FANTASY: He owns 33 Portland Place, a 110-room mansion in West London that served as the setting for the Kate Moss Agent Provocateur ad and scenes from The King’s Speech.
REALITY: Davenport got the lease from the Sierra Leone High Commission for £50,000 when the African country was in the throes of a coup. The purchase was the subject of two BBC investigations that claimed Davenport ran a pub-leasing racket and failed to make the promised improvements to the building, among other allegations.
He’s lovely to chat to, such a happy character and always makes you smile; he has an amazing sense of humor
– Davenport’s friend, as quoted on his website
As a younger man, I was a sculptor, a painter, and a musician. There was just one problem: I wasn’t very good. As a matter of fact, I was dreadful. I finally came to the frustrating conclusion that I had taste and style, but not talent. Fortunately, I discovered that taste and style were commodities that people desired. – Lawrence Jamieson, Michael Caine’s character in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels:
FANTASY: Justice will now be served.
REALITY: I’m betting that Fast Eddie will make a comeback under another name. When sentenced he reportedly grinned and raised his eyebrows in a suggestive manner at his 25-year-old Thai girlfriend, model Monthira Sanan-ua.
Due diligence and asking the right questions can help avoid this type of scammer, but the best advice may be from a country song: Even when it comes packaged with diamond-encrusted Patek Philippe watches, everything that glitters is not gold.