26/09/2007

Art Exhibit Owned By Sir Elton John Examined

Sir Elton John owns a photograph seized from a Tyneside art gallery in a child pornography investigation, it has emerged.

The photograph - 'Klara and Edda belly-dancing' by Nan Goldin - was seized by Northumbria Police from the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead last Thursday, amid fears that it breached child pornography laws.

The photograph is one of 149 images, which make up the 'Thanksgiving' installation by US photographer Goldin.

A statement published on Sir Elton's web-site confirmed that he purchased the installation from the White Cube gallery in London in 1999 and had loaned it to the Baltic centre for a display which opened last Friday, without the photograph which was seized.

The statement said: "The photograph exists as part of the installation as a whole and has been widely published and exhibited throughout the world. It can be found in the monograph of Ms Goldin's works entitled "The Devil's Playground", has been offered for sale at Sotheby's New York in 2002 and 2004, and has previously been exhibited in Houston, London, Madrid, New York, Portugal, Warsaw and Zurich without any objections of which we are aware.

"Elton John is known as one of the world's foremost collectors of photographic art and has several thousand photographs in his collection, including works by Man Ray, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Diane Arbus and Ansel Adams."

Goldin has not issued a comment.

The photograph is being examined by police and the Crown Prosecution Service to determine whether it is legal.

A spokesperson for Northumbria Police said on Tuesday: "We attended the Baltic last Thursday at the invitation of management who were seeking advice about an item from an exhibition prior to it going on public display.

"This item is being assessed and Northumbria Police in consultation with the CPS is investigating the circumstances surrounding it."

(KMcA)

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