The private members' club no one’s talking about

 (Press handout)
(Press handout)

Countless column inches were filled this week on the Garrick Club. Members of the 192-year-old association, which include deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden and levelling up secretary Michael Gove, were horrified to discover that it didn’t admit women and rushed to overturn the rule.

But Spy reckons there’s another private members' club that deserves some attention.

Two years ago, plans were unveiled for a glamorous new space for City execs: Coin Club. The idea was novel: in lieu of a membership card, applicants would have to purchase ‘Fat Cat’ NFTs, to gain entry. The tokens, cartoons of cats in suits, had to be bought using Ethereum and would cost £15,000 each – a fee to make even Garrick regulars blush.

Prospective members were promised a five-floor venue “based in a former bank building [and] including a roof terrace with views over the Square Mile, gallery space exhibiting both analogue and digital art and a basement nightclub with a roster of big-name DJs.”

Fine dining would be on offer in the aptly-named ‘Coin Restaurant,’ which would serve “cordon bleu Japanese cuisine.

Founder Adriano Karok, a Berlin-based nightclub owner, said the site would open in 2023 and boasted that more venues could soon follow in Paris, New York and Tokyo.

The plans attracted a gushing write-up in City AM, which described the club as an “eye-catching offering” and “a heavyweight addition to clubland.”

“It is easy to imagine Coin Club catching the imagination of young, wealthy, iconoclastic entrepreneurs in the crypto space who want to party and network in stylish surroundings,” the paper wrote.

“Adriano Karok, steeped in both events and financial services and with a broad, easy smile, makes success sound like the simplest thing in the world.”

The FT also wrote about the plans, albeit with a little less enthusiasm. The Standard interviewed Mr Karok, but opted not to publish anything, at least not until nearer the date of the club’s opening.

That date never came. Not long after an NFT launch party in June, the club seemed to vanish. The website disappeared and the Standard received no more news. It’s not clear whether or where a lease on a London venue was ever signed – and no sister sites materialised in Paris, New York or Tokyo.

A company called Coin Club Group Limited, of which Mr Karok was a director, was dissolved in August last year without ever having filed accounts.

A reverse image search of the cat cartoons brings nothing up beyond a few social media posts by the business, and Spy could find no trace of them on OpenSea, a popular NFT marketplace.

So what exactly happened?  Were there just not enough people willing to pay £15k for a picture of a cat, to get the project off the ground? Or were the organisers having kittens about its viability after the collapse in crypto prices later in 2022?

We may never know. The firm’s PR representatives told Spy they parted ways with the founders soon after the launch party, citing organisational difficulties.

 (Evening Standard)
(Evening Standard)

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