HE is better known on the London social scene for his hectic lifestyle, extravagant donations to charity and even more extravagant beard. But Evgeny Lebedev, the billionaire Russian-born owner of the Evening Standard and The Independent newspapers, enlisted the help of a British bullfighting expert recently to fulfill a surprising passion – the corrida.
Lebedev planned to write an article on the bullfight for The Independent and contacted old Etonian Alexander Fiske-Harrison, author of the critically acclaimed book Into the Arena: The World of the Spanish Bullfight.
“His people got in touch with me because he wanted to go to Spain and write an article about bullfighting” Fiske-Harrison, told the Olive Press. “We were going to travel to Seville and put him in with a young cow – but due to various reasons that didn’t come through.
“I did meet up with him in London, however, and was able to give him a bullfighting lesson as well as explain what he would be watching.”
Alexander was impressed by Evgeny’s aptitude. “I have to say that he got it. He was a great student, physically capable and mentally alert, and that’s obviously an advantage.
“There is also bullfighting art on the walls of his London apartment, so he obviously has more than just a passing interest.”
Evgeny visited Seville and saw the one eyed bullfighter Juan Jose Padilla in action and in the subsequent piece, wrote that the bullfight would live on long after the anti bullfighting protesters had gone. “I think that it also helped that he saw a good bullfight in Spain” says Fiske-Harrison. “Padilla is a particularly artistic bullfighter”
So might we now see more Russians becoming interested in bullfighting? How long before we have a matador from Moscow? “He is the first Russian that I have taught.” Fiske-Harrison told the Olive Press. “I’ve had inquiries from others and they are perhaps more “sanguine” about their relationship with animals”.
Photo. Nicolas Haro