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A Letter to the House of Taylor on Ties to Dorchester Properties

Elizabeth Taylor and Beverly Hills Hotel
Via Shutterstock

Writer and activist James Duke Mason questions the organization over its collaboration with Dorchester Collection properties, connected to the anti-LGBTQ+ Brunei government.

To The House of Taylor Board of Trustees:

I am reaching out today after several attempts to contact you privately over the last few weeks. I was hoping to keep this a discreet correspondence, but considering the urgency of this matter, I feel it is now important to speak up publicly.

I want to express my deep concern and disappointment regarding the Elizabeth Taylor Estate's recent decision to collaborate with the Dorchester Collection on two of its hotel suites, one named the Elizabeth Taylor Harlequin Suite at the Dorchester in London and the other named the Elizabeth Taylor Bungalow 5 at the Beverly Hills Hotel here in the Los Angeles area.

I fully recognize the appeal of partnering with the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Dorchester. They are two of the world's preeminent and most prestigious hotel destinations. I know Elizabeth was a frequent guest at both properties, as was my family, by the way. Going back almost 80 years, the Masons -- my grandparents, my parents, and I -- were loyal patrons of both hotels and considered many of their staff part of our family. But in the last eight years, things have changed.

Your decision to collaborate with them is disturbing for multiple reasons. All Dorchester Collection properties have been under boycott since 2014 due to the owner, the Sultan of Brunei, and his barbaric interpretation of sharia law and the country's policies against women and the LGBTQ+ community. Many celebrities, corporations, and charities have joined in this boycott and canceled all events at the hotels.

Although there has been a concerted PR effort on behalf of the Dorchester Collection to convince the public that the boycott is over, nothing could be further from the truth. The boycott has been a huge success, resulting in the company losing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

The fact remains that the sultan has not formally repealed sharia law in Brunei, and every dime of profit the Dorchester Collection makes goes directly to the Bruneian government. I am sincerely hoping that you were not aware of the boycott and didn't realize how damaging it would be to the cause if Elizabeth's name were used to give credibility and stature to the hotels, especially given her devotion and commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.

My family and I have deep ties to Elizabeth Taylor going back many decades. She was a close family friend -- my father played her son in the film The Sandpiper and was later her film agent, so our intention is of course to protect her memory.

That's why I'm urging you to rescind your agreement with the Dorchester Collection and deny the company the right to use Elizabeth's name on these hotel suites until the country's sharia law is officially repealed. That would be in keeping with her legacy of standing up for gay rights around the world. It would be a shame to see her lifetime of hard work tarnished by your mistakes.

Yours sincerely,

James Duke Mason

James Duke Mason is a writer, activist, and former city official from West Hollywood.

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