British Film Industry Consultant
David Litvinoff (1928-1975) was a London socialite who served as a consultant for the British film industry.
Born in London into a Jewish family, Litvinoff had grown up in relative poverty. His mother, a dressmaker, had fled from persecution in Odessa, then a part of the Russian Empire although nowadays in Ukraine.
Litvinoff was a keen musician who frequented Soho’s jazz clubs in the 1950s and was said to be a particular fan of blues.
Starting in 1968 following the arrest of the Kray Twins, the most notorious London gangsters of the era, on charges including conspiracy to murder, Litvinoff built his film consultancy career on the expertise he assumed on London’s criminal underworld to guide the dramatisation of stories centred upon it.
This was partly legitimate, since Litvinoff had been a particular friend of Ronnie Kray, from whom he had learned much inside information on the criminal gangs of the time. He also used to frequent a gambling club part-owned by the Krays called Esmeralda’s Barn, where he himself ran up gambling debts that had to be settled in a deal with Kray. At one point in the 1960s, Litvinoff sustained a huge slash across his face in an attack thought to be gang-related, that left him with a permanent deep scar there.
However, associates have accused Litvinoff of embroidering what he did know with imaginative fictions in order to further his own position in this consultancy role.
Whatever the truth may have been, he had helped cement his persona as an insider to the criminal underworld in 1967 by interrogating, together with an associate, a suspected police informant, whom they are said to have tortured by suspending him outside a window by his ankles. This incident occurred in response to a drugs raid on a party held by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. It was clear that Litvinoff sided with the freedom of those present to take drugs and against police interference.
In 1954, Litvinoff had had his portrait painted by notable artist Lucian Freud in a painting named Man in a Headscarf, which later sold for over a million pounds at auction in 1999.
Litvinoff died from an overdose of sleeping pills at the age of just 46.