August 9, 2008
From the shore, it looked like a scene from a Bond film - two vast, gleaming white yachts moored on the edge of a Mediterranean island.
The decks of one, Le Mirage, were crowded from port to starboard with beautiful, scantily-clad girls sipping from glasses of Cristal champagne. As the sun set across the harbour of Ibiza's Old Town, the carefree chatter of the guests mingled with the dance music which drifted across the water.
On the other, the 32 million vessel Lionheart, a portly grey-haired man sprawled on a plush, black sofa surrounded by cigar-smoking business associates and male friends.
As the Lionheart moored alongside Le Mirage, its 56-year-old owner stood up from his throne-like sofa and leant across the rails to the women installed on his neighbouring yacht.
'Hello girls!' he growled with a wide smile etched across his tanned face. Those surveying this scene from the harbour walls assumed it was a Russian oligarch or a Greek tycoon.
The girls' delighted squeals of response: 'Hello Philip!' suggested otherwise.
The man standing centre stage, like a king at the heart of his court, was in fact Sir Philip Green, the billionaire owner of Bhs and Topshop, and Britain's fifth richest man.
At his side was actor Sylvester Stallone and a stunning raven-haired woman thought to be Stallone's wife, Jennifer Flavin.
Onlookers started to wonder if they had a touch of sunstroke and were seeing things. But then Sir Philip has been full of surprises this week.
He has given the impression of being on a one-man mission to assert his status as an international playboy.
Earlier in the week, he entertained both Kate Moss and Stallone on board Lionheart, which is so opulent, even the toilets are gold.
At first glance, the 34-year-old supermodel and Rocky star Stallone have little in common - aside from their mutual love of smoking (Marlboro Lights for her, Cuban cigars for him) and that at one time or another drugs have landed them both in a spot of hot water (respectively cocaine and illegal human growth hormones).
Even so, the supermodel, the film star and the Bhs boss made unlikely holiday companions.
But those who know Sir Philip have been used to the glittering, rather eclectic retinue which increasingly follows in his wake. Never more so than on Thursday, when having partied with the posse of girls on Le Mirage, Sir Philip and Stallone took a stroll through Ibiza's Old Town.
If Sir Philip was determined to be seen with his mega-famous friend, then the little jaunt certainly had the required effect. Despite the cover of darkness, the pair were mobbed by holidaymakers chanting: 'Rocky! Rocky!'
The only shame for Sir Philip was that in all the excitement, nobody appeared to be taking any notice of him or his 16-year-old daughter Chloe.
'It was as if he wanted to be seen,' said one onlooker. 'He and Sly came off the yacht, wandered around for five minutes and then went back on board. They didn't stop for a drink anywhere, they just paraded through the streets.
'Sir Philip looked chuffed for a while to be seen with Sly. Then he started to look really fed up because no one was noticing him and they went back to the ship.
Nevertheless, the influence of his famous friends has clearly rejuvenated Sir Philip in more ways than one.
'They were having a fantastic time,' says a member of staff who served Sir Philip and Kate at The Rock Bar when they popped in for a drink with Chloe.
Certainly, Sir Philip did not appear to be missing his wife Tina. She has not been seen on the island all week. But she has little need to keep a watchful eye on the man she married in 1990 - most of her husband's business wealth is in her name.
He was buying all the drinks: Kate Moss was drinking vodka and tonic and he was drinking champagne,' continued the member of staff. 'They seemed genuinely really fond of each other. He was touching her arm every now and then.
'They seem very at ease in each other's company. Kate had brought her own security with her, but they were very discreet. They stayed by the door. She was laughing a lot and taking pictures of everyone.'
Later, Moss continued partying at Ibiza's most famous nightclub, Pasha. Sir Philip, his age perhaps catching up with him, returned to his yacht Lionheart for a good night's sleep.
This week, Moss and Sir Philip have also been spotted together at the adjoining island of Formentera's most expensive restaurant, Juan Y Andrea.
But while their joint business venture has made Moss and Sir Philip frequent dining companions, the appearance of Stallone this week on the tycoon's yacht was rather more incongruous.
In fact, the pair have been friendly for years. Sir Philip was at Stallone's side at the London premiere of rambo 4 in February and sat together to watch the Joe Calzaghe fight in Las Vegas in April.
Stallone and Sir Philip share a mutual friend - Robert Earl, one of the founders of the Planet Hollywood chain of restaurants, in which Stallone was a major shareholder.
A dizzying set of social connections, for sure, but then Sir Philip's social life is nothing if not a complex web of celebrity - hence the menagerie of the rich and famous whom he so loves to summon to his modern and utterly gaudy Camelot.