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The 14th Guest by Jonty Hurwitz - Savoy Hotel

The 14th Guest by Jonty Hurwitz

THE STORY has it that in 1898 South African diamond magnate Woolf Joel held a dinner at The Savoy for fourteen guests and one cancelled at the last minute.

The dinner continued, but one superstitious guest announced that death would come to the first person to leave the unlucky table of thirteen. Joel took that gamble and a few weeks later he was shot dead in Johannesburg.

To avoid a repeat performance, The Savoy offered a member of staff to join tables of thirteen thereafter. Unable to discuss private matters or feel at ease, this proved to be unpopular with guests and thus, in a stroke of genius, Kaspar was born – a two foot high sculpture of a black cat, created in 1927 by British designer Basil Ionides to stave off bad luck.

For almost 90 years, The Savoy has been more than happy to oblige parties of thirteen with Kaspar’s company, whereby he joins in with napkin around his neck and a full place setting to ‘enjoy’ every course. Winston Churchill, who adored Kaspar, insisted that the cat join him at every gathering of The Other Club.

Basil Ionides' original Kaspar

On May 2, 2013, The Savoy opened Kaspar’s, a new seafood bar and grill restaurant, named in honour of the hotel’s celebrated cat; and commissioned a new sculpture by Jonty Hurwitz as part of its contemporary art programme.

The 14th Guest, unveiled on April 30, 2013, is the latest work in Hurwitz’ Generation Pi series of anamorphic sculptures. Launched at Kinetica art and science fair in February 2013, this series has had unprecedented interest in the world’s media with over two million page impressions and 500,000 viewings on You Tube.

The subject of Generation Pi is the new relationship between today’s generation and technology.