Art that once adorned walls of Green's Oyster Bar sells for £30,000

Art that once adorned walls of Green's Oyster Bar sells for £30,000

December 15, 2021

The final Tartar! Art that once adorned the walls of Green’s Oyster Bar sells for £30,000 at auction – five years after the London celebrity haunt shut for good

  • Green’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar, in London’s St James, was owned and run by Simon Parker Bowles 
  • After it opened in 1982, it was a popular haunt for celebrities and members of the Royal Family
  • It was forced by landlords the Crown Estate to close in 2016 so that the premises could be redeveloped
  • Queen Mother and Princess Diana visited, as did James Bond star Sean Connery and comic Ronnie Corbett 

Artworks from an eatery which was a favourite of the Queen Mother and visited by stars including Sean Connery and Ronnie Corbett have sold for £30,000 at auction.

Green’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar, on Duke Street in London’s St James, was owned and run by Simon Parker Bowles, the brother of the Duchess of Cornwall’s former husband Andrew.

After it opened in 1982, it was a popular haunt for celebrities and members of the Royal Family until it was forced by landlords the Crown Estate to close in 2016 so that the premises could be redeveloped.

As well as being frequented by the Queen Mother, who was pictured smiling as she left the venue later in life, it was also discreetly visited by Princess Diana and her sons Princes William and Harry.

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was also a ‘very regular’ visitor, Mr Parker Bowles said.

Other images of stars at the venue show James Bond star Connery, as well as the much-loved comedian Corbett, who was best known for his The Two Ronnies double act with Ronnie Barker.

The paintings and cartoons which once adorned the walls were commissioned by the restaurateur’s wife, Carolyn.

They include ‘Wine Tasting’, by Tanzanian-born artist Sue Macartney-Snape. It depicts a colourful bar scene whose characters were ‘remarkably like’ those who visited Green’s, Mr Parker Bowles said. 

In the online sale held by London auction house Dreweatts today, it sold for £8,125, more than £3,000 above the upper estimate of £5,000.  

Artworks from an eatery which was a favourite of the Queen Mother and stars including Sean Connery and Ronnie Corbett have sold for £30,000 at auction. Green’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar, on Duke Street in London’s St James, was owned and run by Simon Parker Bowles, the brother of the Duchess of Cornwall’s former husband Andrew. Above: ‘Wine Tasting’, by Tanzanian-born artist Sue Macartney-Snape. It sold today for £8,125

After it opened in 1982, it was a popular haunt for celebrities and members of the Royal Family until it was forced by landlords the Crown Estate to close in 2016 so that the premises could be redeveloped. As well as being frequented by the Queen Mother, who was pictured smiling as she left the venue later in life (above with Simon Parker Bowles seen centre), it was also discreetly visited by Princess Diana and her sons Princes William and Harry

Other images of stars at the venue show James Bond star Sean Connery smiling with fellow actor Michael Medwin. Mr Parker Bowles said there was always ‘a lot of noise and a lot of singing’ when Connery visited

Also up for grabs werecartoons by Raymond Jackson, who was known as JAK and became one of Britain’s best-known newspaper cartoonists after a long-running career which saw him work at titles including the Evening Standard and Mail on Sunday. 

The estimates for the cartoons ranged from £100 to £500. Jackson’s portrait of restaurateur Peter Langan – who opened Piccadilly eatery Langan’s Brasserie with actor Michael Caine – had been expected to fetch up to £500 but ended up selling for £2,500. 

The second most valuable lot was the painting ‘Lady at the bar’, by Anthony Bream. It sold for £2,125, well above the lower estimate of £1,500. 

A lobster painted onto card by artist Peter Manzi which bore the message ‘caught especially for Green’s’ sold for £700, well above the £50-100 estimate. 

A painting of a glamorous woman holding up a glass by artist William Henry Barribal, sold for £1,500 – three times the £500 estimate. It was aptly named ‘The Champagne Toast’. 

Speaking of the stars who visited, Mr Parker Bowles said: ‘My favourite visitor was Ronnie Corbett who was a very dear friend of mine.

‘He was very shy Ronnie, he used to sneak into my table and hope nobody saw him.’

He said there was always ‘a lot of noise and a lot of singing’ when Connery visited, whilst the Royal family were ‘fun to have around’.

The paintings and cartoons which once adorned the walls were commissioned by the restaurateur’s wife, Carolyn. The second most valuable lot was the painting ‘Lady at the bar’, by Anthony Bream. It sold for £2,125, above the lower estimate of £1,500

A lobster painted onto card by artist Peter Manzi which bore the message ‘caught especially for Green’s’  sold for £700 today, well above the £50-100 estimate

Jackson’s long-running career which saw him work at titles including the Evening Standard and Mail on Sunday. The estimates for the cartoons ranged from £100 to £500. Above: This cartoon featured in the Mail on Sunday before being hung on the wall at Green’s. It was expected to fetch up to £100 but sold for £240

A painting of a glamorous woman holding up a glass by artist William Henry Barribal, sold for £1,500 – three times the £500 estimate. It was aptly named ‘The Champagne Toast’

Mr Parker Bowles said he opened the restaurant because many of London’s venues were ‘getting very fussy’. ‘I called it a champagne and oyster bar and in fact, I can’t eat oysters and I don’t really like champagne,’ he said. Above: A throwback snap of the venue in its heyday

Mr Parker Bowles’s brother Andrew (right with his sibling in 2009) was married to the Duchess of Cornwall from 1973 until 1995. She married Prince Charles a decade later

Green’s Champagne and Oyster Bar in St James’s is seen above in 2002. It was forced to close by the Crown Estate in 2016

‘Margaret Thatcher was very regular. Even when they said she had lost the plot. She always remembered Manuel [the waiter]. Once met, never forgotten,’ he added.

‘The star was the Queen mother. I gave this lunch for her, and I asked among others Ronnie and Anne Corbett, and there was a Canadian couple there who had come all the way from Canada because they were great fans of the two Ronnies.

‘So imagine their absolute overjoy to see the two Ronnie’s sitting there, and then seeing the Queen mother as well.’

Mr Parker Bowles said he opened the restaurant because many of London’s venues were ‘getting very fussy’.

‘I called it a champagne and oyster bar and in fact, I can’t eat oysters and I don’t really like champagne,’ he said.

‘The main reason for my timing was that at that particular time at the end of the 70s and early 80s, the restaurants were going on nouveau cuisine and getting very fussy.

‘And I seriously thought there aren’t many restaurants left that I want to go to.

Cartoonist Raymond Jackson’s portrait of restaurateur Peter Langan – who opened Piccadilly eatery Langan’s Brasserie with actor Michael Caine – during a visit to Green’s  in 1985. Jackson suggested that both he and Langan had been drinking when he depicted him, as he wrote the word ‘Drunkenly (both)’ in the corner of the sketch. It had been expected to fetch up to £500 but actually sold for £2,500


 These two depictions of Green’s, sketched by artist Michael Stiff, were among a set which was expected to fetch up to £300 but actually sold for £340

This depiction of the dining room at Green’s, again by Michael Stiff, was among a set which are expected to fetch up to £300

Stiff’s depiction of the exterior of Green’s also once hung on the wall at the famous venue and is among those which were  up for sale

‘Luckily, it turned out a lot of people felt the same way I did. Green’s was exactly what I liked, which is old fashioned, straight-forward, well cooked, good ingredients, good service, all those things.

‘The most important touch were the pictures. When you are sitting having a boring lunch… you do tend to gravitate to look at what is on the walls.

‘We commissioned our Sue Macartney-Snape Wine tasting. It is extremely good and funny and really remarkably like a lot of characters who came to Green’s.’

Speaking of the stars who visited, Mr Parker Bowles said: ‘My favourite visitor was Ronnie Corbett who was a very dear friend of mine. ‘He was very shy Ronnie, he used to sneak into my table and hope nobody saw him’. Corbett is pictured centre with Mr Parker Bowles (left) and Lord King of Wartnaby

Mr Parker Bowles said he opened the restaurant because many of London’s venues were ‘getting very fussy’

Mr Parker Bowles added: ‘Green’s was exactly what I liked, which is old fashioned, straight-forward, well cooked, good ingredients, good service, all those things’. Above: Some of the waiting staff at Green’s

Mr Parker Bowles is seen with a Green’s staff member as they extract an oyster from its shell. The restaurateur’s paintings are being sold with auctioneer Dreweatts  

Speaking in 2016 when the restaurant had to close, Mr Parker Bowles told the Daily Mail’s Sebastian Shakespeare: ‘It’s true that we are being forced to close Duke Street due to the insatiable desire of the Crown Estate to redevelop’. Above: A waiter at the bar at Green’s

Online bids are being accepted on the artwork which once hung at Green’s until December 15. Above: Mr Parker Bowles at the bar of his eatery

He said the paintings added to the ‘foodie feeling’ and ‘clubbie feeling’ which he was trying to create at the venue.

Dreweatts’ senior valuer Will Porter said after today’s sale: ‘This nostalgic online auction celebrated the colourful history of St. James’s alongside Green’s Champagne and Oyster Bar. 

‘To see old maps and cartoons of the area being competitively bid on as well as the restaurant signs and cut out lobsters shows just how ingrained in the history of St. James’s Green’s has become. 

‘You can take Green’s out of St. James’s, but you can’t take St. James’s out of Green’s!

‘It has been a real pleasure to speak with so many past regulars who have such fond memories of the restaurant, the staff, and Simon Parker Bowles himself. 

‘The auction exceeded the pre-sale estimate and sold 100% of the works on offer which is testament to the love that people had for this wonderful establishment and the desire to keep those memories alive.

Speaking in 2016 when the restaurant had to close, Mr Parker Bowles told the Daily Mail’s Sebastian Shakespeare: ‘It’s true that we are being forced to close Duke Street due to the insatiable desire of the Crown Estate to redevelop.’

The estate, which belongs to the Queen but is run independently, was redeveloping the premises as part of its £500million ‘investment strategy’ for the area. 

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