Mark Birley

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Marcus Lecky Oswald Hornby Birley (30 May 1930 – 24 August 2007), known as Mark Birley, was a British entrepreneur known for his investments in the hospitality industry. He was educated at Eton where he excelled at drawing. After doing his National Service he went up to University College, Oxford to read PPE but he left after failing his first year exams.


In 1963 Mark Birley founded Annabel's at Berkeley Square in the Mayfair district in central London. The club was named for his wife, the former Lady Annabel Vane-Tempest-Stewart, and it was the first of its kind: a member-only nightclub that catered to an exclusive clientele, including the Prince of Wales.

In 1972 Birley opened Mark's Club and continued to expand his portfolio in the restaurant, nightclub and hotel business. He became the owner of the Annabel's Group, which includes Mark Birley Holdings Limited. He launched a men's fragrance line, Mark Birley for Men, in 1996, in collaboration with the perfumers Frédéric Malle and Pierre Bourdon. Birley also designed the former family offices of Peter Palumbo, Baron Palumbo in the City of London into a member's club, The Walbrook, which opened in 2000.[1]

Private life[edit]

Mark Birley was the son of Sir Oswald Birley, the royal and society portrait painter, and his wife, the former Rhoda Pike. His sister, Maxime de la Falaise, became a noted fashion model of the 1950s and her daughter is Loulou de la Falaise who was a muse to the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.

On 10 March 1954 he married Lady Annabel Vane-Tempest-Stewart, daughter of the 8th Marquess of Londonderry. They had three children Rupert, Robin and India Jane.

Annabel Birley became the mistress of Birley's former friend Sir James Goldsmith, and gave birth to two of Goldsmith's children while she was still married to, but separated from, Birley. The Birleys divorced in 1975.[2]

As a child Birley's son Robin was mauled and badly scarred for life by a tiger at the private zoo of family friend John Aspinall. In 1986 Birley's other son, Rupert, disappeared in Togo and was never found. He is supposed to have died. In his last years, Birley himself was disabled and needed to use a wheelchair. For a time, he turned over the reins of his businesses to his two surviving children. In 2006, however, Birley dismissed his son Robin and returned to the helm of his empire, which until his death he ran with his daughter India Jane.


He died on 24 August 2007, aged 77, following a stroke.


  1. ^ Hall, Amanda. "City Profile: The king of clubs". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
  2. ^ 27 Aug 2007 (2007-08-27). "Mark Birley". Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-01-26.