Olivia Valère, known for decades as the queen of Marbella nightlife, died at her home in Paris on Thursday 9 June, a year after being diagnosed with cancer. She was 75.
Sources close to her family say she wanted to be buried in her beloved Marbella, and her funeral will take place there in a few days’ time.
Valére arrived on the Costa del Sol in the 1980s after running a highly successful disco in Paris. She opened her first nightclub at the Puente Romano in Marbella in collaboration with Lebanese businessman Raymond Nakachian and his wife, the Korean opera singer Kimera, who she had known in France. It became hugely popular with the jet-setters of the time.
She was also behind the Gray d’Albion project in Puerto Banús, and even she was surprised by its success: “Puerto Banús came to a complete standstill because of all the cars for the inauguration,” she told the press afterwards.
Years later, in July 2000, she fulfilled her biggest dream with the opening of a disco bearing her name between Puero Banús and Marbella. It aroused some controversy due to questionable town planning decisions from the party governing Marbella at the time, the Grupo Independiente Liberal (GIL). Nevertheless, the disco and the name Olivia Valère became synonymous with partying, luxury and fun.
It was even described as a ‘temple of nightlife’, with clients including Prince Albert of Monaco, Bruce Willis, Camilo José Cela, Eva Longorio and Antonio Banderas, who celebrated his 59th birthday there with Nicole Kimpel. Supermodel Naomi Campbell, a great friend of Olivia, was also there for the inauguration party.
She was a tireless worker, but did not attempt false modesty: “Coming to Marbella and not visiting Olivia Valère is like going to Rome and not visiting the Vatican,” she is reported to have said.
Behind doors, however, there was another Olivia, the home-loving woman who liked cooking and adored her husband, children and grandchildren.
With her death, Marbella has lost not only a famous resident and businesswoman but also someone who was happiest when she saw other people enjoying themselves.
“A lot of people who come to my club want to have photos taken with me and I’m delighted, because they are happy but I am even more so,” she once said.