Thursday 14 December 2017


Accustomed as we are to dealing with Twitter spats between low-lying celebrities, it comes as something of a change to find two business people sharing their disgust for each other through a more high-brow medium.

And of course it's entirely predictable that two of the biggest players in Irish property during the boom times should choose famous US magazine Vanity Fair as their battleground because, one feels, they would have considered any other newspaper or magazine to be beneath them.

For a while during the last decade, Derek Quinlan and Paddy McKillen were self-styled masters of the universe.

But while McKillen was notoriously low-key, not even liking to be photographed, Quinlan, a former Revenue Commisioners official, was rather fond of flashing his wealth.


Having joined forces to buy the Savoy Group of hotels in London for over €1 billion back in 2004, the pair fell out once Quinlan's empire started to unravel and he was obliged to enlist the help of UK property magnates, the Barclay Brothers, for whom McKillen seems to have had feelings that were somewhat less than fond.

The simmering resentment between the two came out last week, and when you strip away the veneer of respectability 
afforded to them by Vanity 
Fair, the insults swapped by Quinlan and McKillen are reminiscent of just 
another late-night argument in a dingy nightclub over a woman.

The only difference being that the Irish taxpayer will have to pick of the tab for Quinlan's debts with Anglo Irish Bank, as he continues to live the high life in London and St Moritz.

If you judge someone by the company he keeps, Quinlan seems like a particularly loathsome individual, having asked the Barclay brothers to bail him out when he overstretched himself in the Savoy deal.

McKillen recalls that when he came to meet the new investors in the hotel, and turned up impeccably dressed but without a tie, one of the brothers turned his nose up at him, pompously suggesting that: "You're lucky you're coming to meet me or you wouldn't have got into this hotel."

Describing his attitude towards his hundreds of millions of debt, Vanity Fair says that Quinlan talks about it "as if it were but a geo-economically unfortunate golf outing," a phrase consistent with McKillen's description of him as being only interested in "red wine and parties".


When he lived in Ireland, Quinlan not only owned a stately home on Shrewsbury Road, but also kept a penthouse in the Merrion Hotel, when he would find himself in town and the arduous two-mile trip home would be too much for him to bear.

And still boasting about meeting with Saudi princes on yachts and Russian tycoons at dinners surrounded by 
armed security guards, it is the shameless Quinlan who comes off the worse in Vanity Fair's portrait

"I don't see myself living there again," Quinlan told the magazine, which can only come as good news. After all, that's one less fat, arrogant egomaniac for us to deal with.

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