The company’s soon-to-be former home has spawned many tales and legends—most of which are true.
De Beers has confirmed that, later this year, it will move from its longtime home on Charterhouse Street in London (pictured, right) to the less-iconic crosstown headquarters of parent company Anglo American.
De Beers has been stationed on Charterhouse Street—close to the Hatton Garden diamond district—since the 1930s, occupying a variety of buildings often connected by bridges, although it briefly moved outside London during World War II, says spokesperson David Johnson.
De Beers’ imposing and mysterious Charterhouse Street headquarters has spawned many tales and legends—most of which are true:
1. It houses a world-class art collection.
Its art collection was so impressive it inspired an exhibit: Contemporary Art for 17 Charterhouse Street.
“There is a significant private collection in the building that does include some by some famous names,” says Johnson. “None of it has been sold to my knowledge.”
One noted artist whose work adorns the walls: David Hockney.
2. Some of that art was reportedly “donated” by sightholders.
When De Beers officially opened the 17 Charterhouse St. locale in 1979, sightholders say they were “encouraged” to contribute art. Some clients are still upset by this. Especially since…
3. Sightholders were not always treated like royalty.
“Clients [were at one time prohibited] from using the front door to enter or leave [17 Charterhouse],” wrote Chaim Even-Zohar on IDEX. “Sightholders could only come in through the (Saffron Hill) service entrance, behind the iron gates where cars drove in.”
Obviously, that has long since been changed.
Photo © Courtesy of De Beers.