A day in the Neverland of Gay Mercader, the friend of the Rolling Stones | Entertainment | The USA Print

A day in the Neverland of Gay Mercader, the friend of the Rolling Stones

In Gay Mercader’s bedroom there is a green foam ladder so that an old dog who can no longer cope with his soul can climb onto the bed and sleep with his master. Well, his master sleeps little, but his sleepless hours are enlivened by the vision of excellent works of art, especially by his friend Miquel Barceló, who has portrayed him on a canvas that absorbs his soul –“He too, eh, Miquel has a Titian that he looks at every night when he goes to bed”–. Warhol or Fortuny are other artists with work scattered around the house.

A house full of memories that anyone would pay to see. Mercader has built his Neverland, or his Xanadu, rural style without ostentation in Gironès. The entire mountain was bought so that he would not have neighbors and to make sure that the environment would not be destroyed. Fifty hectares that are a haven of peace, where the stable horses live with the half dozen mistreated dogs that he adopted and with ducks, turtles, wild boars and peacocks. It is so far from the madding crowd that not even Amazon messengers know how to get here, so he gives the address of the nearest town pharmacy.

A sign next to a skull warns: “Forget the dog; beware the owner”

The man who has been everything in music –and also the first–, the one from whom the Rolling Stones asked things that you can’t ask of a stranger, the one who put Barcelona and Spain in the first division of the music circuits – since he still has it today – bringing for the first time the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, The Cure, Pink Floyd, Tina Turner, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen…, he distracts himself by reading books, watching concerts on television and chatting with interesting people. “I go to the Celler de Can Roca a lot, I eat very frugally… But it’s to talk with them.”

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Even if he was expelled from some school, Mercader treasures a vast culture that includes literature –from Modiano to philosophy treatises–, cinema or the plastic arts. In his childhood and youth, he went to the Louvre every 15 days, but, above all, he celebrates having received from his educators the ability to criticize, to question things, “which has nothing to do with intelligence, it is something they have taught you or not”.

The arsenal of pills –vitamins and other nutritional supplements– that he stores in various drawers and closets lead one to suspect that Mick Jagger is advising him on how to maintain his physical shape.

Mercader began walking the streets of Barcelona with a bucket, paste and a broom, putting up the posters announcing his concerts himself. In a booth in Plaza Catalunya, his couple sold tickets.

He laughs as he explains that the huge skull he has placed at the entrance to his estate has deterred people from entering it. A sign warns: “Forget the dog; Beware the owner.”