Opened last October and almost completely bankrolled by the guitarist to the tune of $6.5 million dollars, the center reportedly has not begun attracting enough paying customers to even hint at breaking even anytime soon. Earlier this week, Clapton told reporters that the center was “struggling,” explaining that “I can’t keep underwriting it forever.” But that’s exactly what he seems determined to do.
After selling off much of his art collection last year, Clapton now is putting up a good portion of his extensive guitar collection for auction. According to insiders, he has met with Christie’s, and will sell off his once-prized possessions for the good of the clinic. “Yes, the proceeds of the sales will benefit Crossroads,” explained Janet Spiegel, the American spokesperson for the clinic. “But Eric didn’t build the center and expect to turn over a profit. He built it as a lifetime commitment, to help others the way he was helped.
“Those words out of his mouth weren’t meant for publication,” Spiegel continued. “We’re not in trouble. Quite frankly, the business plan for Crossroads Center Antigua is a very normal business plan and has very specific expectations about getting X number of beds to be occupied by this date, and X number for the following years. And I do believe we’re right on target.”
Another source close to the guitarist noted, “Crossroads is not a CD. It’s a rehab center. Nobody expected it to take off right away. [Clapton’s] in it for the long term.”
Originally conceived as a for-profit venture, Crossroads evolved into a non-profit organization headed by Anne Vance, a former administrator at California’s Betty Ford Clinic. Although a twenty-nine day stay runs $9,000 at the center, which is located on ten acres in Willoughby Bay, Clapton has said repeatedly that he will not turn anyone away who needs help and cannot pay. Clapton kicked his own substance abuse problem with the help of the well-respected Hazleton facility over ten years ago, and has continued in the system by volunteering at the Priory, a U.K. rehabilitation center. The commitment to his own sobriety grew into a dream for a treatment center about five years ago, after he became aware of the addiction rates among the people of Antigua. Crossroads reserves one-third of its beds for people native to the area, and the remaining two-thirds are open to anyone needing help.
In other Clapton news, the guitarist has been spending an inordinate amount of time on our shores lately. Last week, he was in New York attending a soiree that his friend, designer Giorgio Armani, gave for Sophia Loren in honor of her new cookbook, Recipes and Memories. Currently, he’s in Los Angeles getting ready for his performance with B.B. King for the NAACP’s annual Image Awards show, which is being taped at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on Saturday Feb. 14 (tentatively scheduled to air March 4 on Fox). The following week will find him performing at the Grammys (Clapton’s “My Father’s Eyes” is nominated for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance; Pilgrim is up for Best Pop Album). Clapton also will attend the annual Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Awards Ceremony on Feb. 25 at the Sony Pictures Lot in Culver City, Calif., and will be presenting John Lee Hooker with the “Lifetime Achievement Award.”