As Arcadia, Sir Philip Green’s empire, circled the drain with ever increasing velocity, it was tempting to see the 68-year-old retailer’s arc as a rags-to-rags saga—played out in (sorry) the rag trade. But with a double caveat: first, Green was actually raised solidly middle-class, and even as his business world—which has included TopShop, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, and, until he sold it for £1 in 2015 ($.75 back then), BHS—finally crumpled around him this week, he’s not going to be sleeping rough in Westminster anytime soon. Right now, in fact, the “king of the high street” is said to be striding the decks of—or, in any event, holed up somewhere on board—his 300-foot floating gin palace Lionheart, moored in Monaco, the principality the Greens like to call home. And the Daily Mail reports that Green is Maldives-bound for the holidays, to unwind from all the stress at a $40,000-a-night resort.
So there are rags and there are rags. In between came the all-too-predictable swirl of nouveaux riches, indulgences, and controversies: the private Gulfstream, the HQ suite at the Dorchester, the 50th-birthday toga party on Cyprus (Tom Jones and Rod Stewart entertaining), the 55th-birthday eco-spa party in the Maldives (George Michael this time), the fancy fashion-world friends, the philanthropy, the charges of tax avoidance, the allegations of sexual harassment (denied) and racism (denied), the knighthood granted by then prime minister Tony Blair (2006, “services to the retail industry”), the hater M.P.’s trying to have the knighthood revoked (2018, see allegations above; more currently, a petition to de-knight him has just reached 230,000 signatures). All of it rich, as it were, material, and, sure enough, last year Green was satirized in the Michael Winterbottom film Greed,starring Steve Coogan.