I’ve just heard a few moments ago that the flaneur, dandy, artist and writer Sebastian Horsley has died. I’m deeply upset. I wouldn’t say that we were close friends – he was far too much of a social butterfly to allow more than a few people into that gilded inner circle – but he certainly was someone whose presence in my life made it a happier and more enjoyable one.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan police said the cause of death was unexplained but reports suggested Horsley died from a heroin overdose.
His plans to promote his unremittingly seedy memoirs in the US had to be abandoned after he was refused entry to the country in March 2008 on the grounds of “moral turpitude”. Horsley had assumed a previous conviction for possession of amphetamine sulphate had expired.
“They knew I had been a crack addict, a heroin addict and a prostitute,” he said at the time. “The good news was that they’d read the book – but the bad news was they’d read the book, and I was deported for my notoriety and for being an alien convicted of a crime involving ‘moral turpitude‘.”
U.S. officials said the artist had been not been deported, merely refused entry because of his conviction.
In an interview two years ago Horsley admitted to an addiction to controversy and publicity. “I don’t talk, I quote. I can’t help it,” he said. “It’s better to be quotable than honest.”
The producers of the stage adaptation of Dandy in the Underworld, which opened two days ago, said:
“We are of course reeling from the shock and deeply saddened by the news of Sebastian Horsley’s death. We’re working out the most appropriate and respectful course of action.”
A note on the theatre’s website said:
“On behalf of Sebastian’s friends and colleagues the performances continue in his memory. Soho will miss him.”