In the affluent London neighbourhood of Hampstead, a trip to a historic building brings to light the story behind a famous fictional Cold War baddie.
2 Willow Road was the family home of the Hungarian-born architect, Ernö Goldfinger. But the modernist design of his 1939 building proved unpopular with other Hampstead residents, including author Ian Fleming. The creator of James Bond objected to the demolition of a row of cottages that made way for Goldfinger’s house, now a National Trust property.
Fleming later took inspiration from the rift to name gold magnate and suspected Soviet collaborator Auric Goldfinger, the title character of the seventh James Bond novel (and the third film). An infuriated Ernö consulted his lawyers when the novel was published in 1959, but after Fleming threatened to rename the character ‘Goldprick’ the lawsuit was abandoned.
Besides being a unique example of modernist architecture, 2 Willow Road also contains an impressive collection of modern art, including works by Max Ernst and Henry Moore.
Image: 2 Willow Road, London. Photograph: National Trust