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Interior designer Anthony P. Browne dies

WASHINGTON -- Anthony P. Browne, a onetime rock and roll manager turned interior designer whose star clientele included media magnate Oprah Winfrey, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and Washington socialites Pamela Harriman and Evangeline Bruce, died Oct. 13 at the Capital Caring hospice in the District of Columbia. He was 70.

He had a tumor near the optic nerve, friend David Helfrich said. He said Winfrey visited Browne the day he died. Browne's career received a huge publicity boost after the talk-show host praised his work in a national magazine.

"Anthony is a master at putting colors together," she told Architectural Digest in 2003. "When he's finished, the whole room rises up to meet you."

For years, she had saved a magazine photo of a room Browne had decorated in Baltimore before requesting his services in spiffing up her Indiana "farmhouse" -- a six-bedroom, Loire-style estate. He helped furnish her home in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Before he found his calling in design, the English-born Browne was the personal assistant to Robert Stigwood, manager of such British rock groups as Cream, and business partner of former Beatles manager Brian Epstein. For a period, Browne was world tour manager of the Bee Gees.

By the early 1970s, he left the rock industry and took over the family business, Starcraft Cleaners, a London firm specializing in fabric cleaning and restoration. The firm's patrons included Buckingham Palace and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

On frequent visits to the United States, he enjoyed chatting up wealthy clients and suggesting furnishings for their homes. The hallmarks of his style included grand, yet comfortable, interiors and bold ceiling treatments.

After gaining clout with the city's elite, Browne decided to settle in the Washington area in the early 1980s and open a Georgetown design boutique, which closed in 1993. He juggled his time between a Manhattan penthouse and his Dupont Circle home, an 1892 carriage house featured on historic home tours.

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