James Goldsmith

French-British tycoon and politician (1933–1997)

Sir James Michael Goldsmith (26 February 193318 July 1997) was an Anglo-French billionaire financier and tycoon. Towards the end of his life, he became politically active and founded the Referendum Party, effectively a campaign advocating Britain ending its membership of the European Union.


  • When you marry your mistress you automatically create a vacancy.
    • Reportedly said when he divorced his second wife, Ginette Léry, for his third, Lady Annabel Goldsmith (c. 1978), as cited in "Passions of a jolly green giant", The Guardian (6 December 1993), p. 0
    • Variants exist. The phrase is rendered as "When a man marries his mistress, he creates a vacancy" in "The crisis that could follow Croesus", The Daily Telegraph (21 July 1997), p. 5. The Daily Telegraph article attributes the coinage of this phrase to the French actor Sacha Guitry. Goldsmith's death led to speculation about his estimated assets of £1.6 billion.
  • I think reporting in England is a load of filth, and that's why I'm going into the newspaper business there.

About James Goldsmith

  • [About Goldsmith's long absences owing to having three families] It was normal. I considered other people's families to be slightly odd. I certainly never resented it, because I get on so well with my brothers and sisters, from the youngest, who is 10, to the oldest who is 45."
  • There was a period, from 16 to 19, where we really hit the rocks in terms of our relationship. But even at the worst times, following a monumental row, you couldn't not respect him. I always saw in him - and I would have been a fool not to have seen in him - a greatness.
  • He was a very odd character.
  • I remember knocking on doors in Putney, asking people to vote for him. Some people loved him, other people thought he was the most terrifying creature they had ever heard of, and they thought he wanted to became a sort of dictator of the country.
    And you can understand that. He was a very exotic character. His family life was exotic. Everything he did was different. I have never met anyone like him and I shouldn't think I ever will meet anyone like him.
    So I am not surprised he had a rough time. He didn't mind that. He was sort of like a military commander. He was used to hostility.
  • A tall, restless, nail-biting man, expensively dressed, he looked at least ten years older than forty - three. His face was tanned, his eyes steely blue. In repose, his expression was peculiarly dead. But his face would frequently crinkle into a smile and — which was disconcerting — from time to time he looked straight across at me, nodding and grinning, as if trying to convey a message of some kind.
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