Elvira Mullens Barney (1904 – 1936)

Though considered one of society’s “Bright Young Things,” the “morally dubious” daughter of Sir John and Lady Mullens was just a tempestuous coke addict who got away with murder.

 

Separated from her supposedly violent American singer husband, John Sterling Barney, and living with an “extravagant, bisexual waster” named Michael Scott Stephen in 1932, Elvira Mullens Barney gave a dinner party at her “prodigally furnished” Knightsbridge home – known as the ‘Love Hut’ – at 21 William Mews on the 30th May that year. Early the next morning, shouts of: “Get out, get out! I will shoot you! I will shoot you!” were heard in the mews followed by: “Chicken, chicken, come back to me. I will do anything you want me to.”

 

Undoubtedly the inspiration for Eveleyn Waugh’s character Agatha Runcible in Vile Bodies and possibly also Elvira in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, Mullens Barney’s single shot at close range with a .32 Smith & Wesson revolver killed her lover in the doorway of their bedroom. On her arrest, she launched into an “uncontrollable violent outburst and paroxysm of rage” and “slapped a policeman in the face when he suggested she put on a warmer fur coat.” She is said to have then added: “I’ll teach you to say you will take me to a police station. Now you know who my mother is you’ll be a little more careful in what you say and do to me!”

 

Placed in a private cell at Holloway Prison with a “telephone, powder-puffs and a grand tea-gown” whilst awaiting trial at the Old Bailey, Mullens Barney was ultimately surprisingly cleared of both murder and manslaughter on 5th July 1932. As he left court, the judge at the trial, Mr Justice Humphreys exclaimed: “Most extraordinary! Apparently we should have given her a pat on the back” whilst Mullens Barney was said to have headed to a celebration party and shouted: “I am the one who shot her lover – so take a good look at me” as she took to the dance floor.

 

To escape public and press outrage, “spoilt child of fortune” Mullens Barney moved to France. She was found dead on Christmas Day 1936 after “a typical long night of drinking and taking cocaine” in a hotel room in Paris with signs of haemorrhage around her mouth. Her sister, Avril, meanwhile made her third husband divorcé Ernest Simpson (whose ex-wife Wallis had become wife to Edward VIII in 1937) in 1948 and was killed in a car crash in Mexico in 1978.

 

The Roll Call - SOCIAL BUTTERFLIES

Socialite who got away with murder Elvira Mullens Barney (1904 – 1936) – Elvira Mullens Barney’s lover Michael Stephen was shot dead in her Knightsbridge house in 1932. She was cleared but died of a drug overdose.

1

Elvira Mullens Barney (1904 – 1936)

2

Kyra Kennedy

3

Theresa Doyle (AKA ‘The Grim Eater’ and ‘The Phantom Mourner’)

4

Andrew Warren

5

Gianna Lahainer

6

Jeffrey Slonim (1960 – 2016)

7

Oliver Rothschild (AKA “The Fake Rothschild”)

8

The Inspector Clouseau lookalike

9

The Ranting Crasher

10

Sabine Getty (née Ghanem, AKA ‘Sabine G’)

11

Maya Henry (AKA “The It Girl with a Heart of Gold”)

12

Judy Taubman (previously Judith Mazor Rounick, née Jehudit Mazor)

13

Danielle Rollins

14

The Iain Duncan Smith lookalike

15

Lara Asprey (AKA “Lady Lara”)

16

Debbie Bancroft

17

Alexandra Tolstoy FRGS

18

Lady Elizabeth Anson

19

Charlene Marshall (AKA “Miss Piggy”, née Charlene Detwyler Tyler and previously Charlene Gilbert)

20

Thomas Gilbert Jr.

21

Lynn Wyatt (née Lynn Sakowitz)

22

Peter Cary Peterson (AKA “PC”)

23

Sara Vestin Rahmani

24

Hermé de Wyman Miro

25

Kathy Prounis

26

Elyse Newhouse (née Elyse Applebaum)

27

Manthe Penton Harrap

28

Denis Doble

29

Justin Fichelson

30

Lady Annabel Goldsmith

31

Bienvenida Buck (AKA “The Spanish Firecracker”, born Bienvenida Perez-Blanco)

32

Randy Harris

33

Marcus Prinz von Anhalt (born Marcus Edward Eberhardt)

34

Solomon Akhtar

35

David West (also known as “Dave West” and “Lord David West of the Manor of Hollesley”, 1944 – 2014)

36

Brian Crawford ( – October 2014)

37

Alessandro Carnicella

38

Cole Rumbough

39

Ivan Pun

40

Fernande Grudet (AKA 'Madame Claude')

41

Christie Brinkley

42

Scott Harvey-Nicholls

43

Sally Farmiloe-Neville (1954 – 2014)

44

Nicky Rothschild (née Nicky Hilton)

45

Mr Frizzy

46

The art loving duo

47

Lady Joan Oliphant Fraser

48

Ruth Madoff (née Ruth Alpern)

49

Grant Harrold

50

Denise Eisenberg Rich

51

Tamsin Lonsdale

52

“Lady” Sandra Bates

53

Alice de Janzé (nee Alice Silverthorne and also known as Alice de Trafford and Comtesse de Janzé, 1899 – 1941)

54

Miriam “Muffie” Potter Aston

55

Candy Spelling

56

The Bouquet of Christie's

57

Donna Air

58

The Julian Assange lookalike

59

David Patrick Columbia

60

Baroness Gabriella Langer von Langendorff

61

Baroness Stefania von Kories zu Goetzen (1939 – 2013)

62

The Autograph Hunter

63

Fernando Peire

64

Alexandra “Lexi” Abrams

65

Georgia Davies

66

David Pun

67

Ricardo Garcia

68

Nell Diamond

69

John B. Goodman

70

Holly Candy (born Holly Rachel Vukadinović)

71

Euan Rellie

72

Orlando Hamilton

73

Paris Hilton

74

Jacqueline Branston

9 COMMENTS

  1. A scandal I’d not heard of before. I have a friend who lives in William Mews and I’m sure she’ll be fascinated to read this.

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