Remembering one of London’s great ladies, Marisa Masters
Though born in Italy, Marisa Masters undoubtedly adopted London as her home and wherever she went this pint-sized, sociable sort brought colour to any occasion.
Twice married and a mother of three, Marisa lived by her favourite saying – “Life is beautiful” – and was famed for wearing yellow kaftans and bright amber. She owned the first and quite possibly the worst parked Smart car in Britain, bought a Mustang from Princess Margaret and won a Porsche in a raffle at Harrods. Asked by Mohamed Al-Fayed to come forward to claim it, Marisa asked: “What is a Porsche?” to the great amusement of those present. She chose not to keep the vehicle and returned the keys within days.
In the mid-2000s, Marisa hosted a lunch for Eugenio Sbarbaro, the then Apostolic Nuncio to Serbia, in her palatial home at 11-12 Walton Place in Knightsbridge. Earlier that morning, she had had a difference opinion with a maid who worked for her and had sent her away. During the lunch, where guests also included such people as Father Michael Seed, this individual returned to collect her possessions in the company of the police. Marisa, whose encounters with officers of the law generally related to incidents with her beloved Smart, informed her “friends” that they were not a taxi service and handed each of them a bunch of flowers. Always one to use humour to best effect, everyone – the maid included – left with smiles on their faces.
Born into a large family in Barri, Italy in 1925 and the daughter of an opera impresario, Marisa was never afraid to share her views on any subject. Often to be found in the Bluebird on the Kings Road, this nonagenarian loved art, cigarettes, Sambuca and sunflowers. She had, however, little time for the royal family and politicians and once even entered a bullring during a bullfight in Spain. The bull, Marisa recounted, “behaved himself impeccably”.
Marisa Olga Masters – née Marisa Lassandro – was born on 25th November 1925 and passed away aged ninety on the Queen’s ninetieth birthday, 21st April 2016. She is survived by her daughters and grandchildren. Marisa will be fondly remembered and missed by many and now, we can report, another sunflower is blossoming in the sky.
A selection of pictures of Marisa with friends follows:
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Very sad news. She was a gem and never afraid to tell it like it was. I did, however, make sure I never parked next to her! RIP dear Marisa. Love to the family at this sad time. X
Can’t believe Marisa has gone and I did not know Umberto had died also. Two Italian legends who made Chelsea a better place. RIP.
It is a very sad day today, will always Love and remember all the times we hanged out with her…. Such an amazing lady who was also friends with a few of my family members. RIP Marisa
Marisa had a particularly good innings.
Truly deserving the epithet ‘zany’, Marisa swirled in and out of my life. From the days I was involved with Michael Heseltine and her then husband Lindsay Masters (she was then a vivacious mini-skirted Italian firebrand) and great friends with Alexander Plunket-Greene, Mary Quant, Terry Donovan and John Cowan.
Later in life when she lived just up the street from me in Knightsbridge she continued to live life to the full. Matthew (above) reminded me of an hilarious encounter with Marissa and the Apostolic Nuncio to Serbia (in full ecclesiastical attire) accompanied by Father Michael Seed when after lunch we visited Harrods, just across the road from her home. Bizarre!
And possibly the scariest ride I’ve had as a passenger in her SMART car. Marisa did not look at the road. Her gaze would be upon your face as she drove and talked!
Goodbye old girl. You were a ‘one-off
Am saddened to hear her passing, m ay she rest in peace. I always liked her fortitude and determination, had known her since the early nineties when I arrived in London. I remember her being a great hostess in her lovely house in Walton Place.
She was not as bad as Baroness Marie-Claire von Alvensleben so rejoice in that. Marisa had wit unlike the aforementioned witch.
Chelsea has lost a great character, all my memories of her involve funny incidents, like the time the Police stopped her driving down a one way street and she said to them,”who bloody cares which way it is”.
She was Brilliant!!! Happy to have met her as she made me realise that I was not the worst driver in London. She was a fun loving lady who lived life to the full. Sweet memories x
I will break my self imposed comment ban because it’s Marisa.
When Lapo Elkann was a student in London we decided it would be a good idea if he lodged under the watchful eye of Marisa. Not only did Marisa charge a chunky rent, but took it upon herself to lock Lapo in his room if she felt he was over-partying. Lapo seemed to be surprised by this autocratic curtailment of his freedom, but took it in good part. Marisa would also search his room. In doing so she came across a lump of that very potent and sticky resin from Nepal.
When I asked her what she did with it, she said she formed it into ear plugs so she would not be disturbed by other drivers hooting as they tried to avoid her 300SL.
What a joyous person. Matthew, will there be a memorial service?
Yes Matthew. Please let us know if and when her memorial service is planned?
Ti ricorderò sempre zia Olga
Dearest Marisa…..From one iconoclastic free spirit – unlike you, a somewhat social misfit – to another, i shall miss your contrariness hugely. Extend my greetings please to Gigi…..
Our Mother’s funeral will take place on Monday 16th May at 11am at the Little Oratory, next to the Brompton Oratory on Brompton Road, followed by a reception. All friends welcome, please dress cheerfully, as Marisa said so often, Life is Beautiful. RSVP and Enquiries to [email protected]
Dear Georgia, I am deeply sad to hear Maris passed away..she was brilliant we ha a very nice time in Walton Place .
Please let me know where your mum is buried because I would like to visit her sometime. Tankyou, Iris.
Marisa we will never forghet You! You was a Grandious Lady!