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James Sherwood, Who Revived the Orient Express, Dies at 86


As a consolation prize, Mr. al-Fayed gave him Turnbull & Asser ties (Mr. Al Fayed owned the company) and frozen stag’s testicles from his estate in Scotland, which he said would improve his sex life. That story is recounted in Mr. Sherwood’s 2012 memoir, “Orient-Express: A Personal Journey,” written with Ivan Fallon, a British journalist.

Mr. Sherwood had many battles over the years, including one with the heirs of Mark Birley, his former partner at Harry’s Bar, and one with the Cipriani family over their name. The former chairman of the P & O shipping line, Jeffrey Sterling, called Mr. Sherwood “as subtle as a boatload of bricks,” according to The Telegraph.

In the mid-2000s Sea Containers, the parent company of Mr. Sherwood’s holdings and the owner of 25 percent of Orient-Express Hotels, restructured itself and sold off the hotel business. Mr. Sherwood resigned from the parent company but stayed on at the hotel business until stepping down in 2011, though he remained chairman emeritus until his death.

Suspended by the pandemic, the Orient Express plans to resume service in August. An overnight passage from London to Venice in the grande suite, a rosewood and damask sleeping carriage with its own living room, costs about $18,000, and includes complimentary Champagne. A dozen roses or a small sponge cake are extra.

Last year, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton bought the hotel business, since renamed Belmond, for a reported $2.6 billion. As was his habit, Mr. Sherwood wrote a 25-page memo offering his views on what to do with the properties, although he was told that Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of LVMH, would read only one page.

Mr. Arnault not only read the entire memo; he invited Mr. Sherwood to meet with him.

“Jim was really chuffed,” Mr. Fallon said.


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