Advertisement

‘The most beautiful treetop gallery in the world’: Sir Elton John to auction his treasured US art collection

Hundreds of one-of-a-kind pieces from Sir Elton John’s private US art collection are to be sold at auction  (PA Archive)
Hundreds of one-of-a-kind pieces from Sir Elton John’s private US art collection are to be sold at auction (PA Archive)

Fancy strutting around in a pair of Sir Elton John’s silver leather platform boots, embroidered in bright red with the letters “EJ”? Or perhaps donning one of the pop superstar’s custom-made Cartier gold watches or flamboyant touring outfits?

John’s long farewell to America enters its next phase when 900 items that were previously on display at his luxury penthouse in Atlanta, Georgia, go up for auction at Christie’s in New York next month.

John and husband David Furnish sold the 13,332 sq ft condo, which had been his base on the East Coast of the United States since the early 1990s, for $7.2m (£5.7m) last year.

The couple are now jettisoning the trove of artwork, photography, musical instruments, sculptures, jewellery and clothes from the 36th floor apartment, which Furnish described to Christie’s as “the most beautiful treetop gallery in the world”.

Across his 50-year touring career, John was renowned for his extravagant dress sense, frequently donning rhinestone-encrusted glasses, feather boas, and sparkly sequined jumpsuits. This newly available collection offers an intimate insight into the 76-year-old’s refined artistic tastes.

Sir Elton John’s silver leather platform boots, embroidered in bright red with the letters EJ, will go up for auction with an estimated price of $5,000 to $10,000 (£3,900 to £7,900) (PA)
Sir Elton John’s silver leather platform boots, embroidered in bright red with the letters EJ, will go up for auction with an estimated price of $5,000 to $10,000 (£3,900 to £7,900) (PA)

Among the highlights are Banksy’s 2017 Flower Thrower Triptych, the most expensive item in the collection with an estimate worth of $1m to $1.5m (£790,000 to £1.18m), which John bought directly from the artist.

There’s also a set of Andy Warhol’s Male Nude prints, estimated to go for between $30,000 to $50,000 (£24,000 to £39,000) and two pieces by the renowned pop artist Keith Haring, a frequent collaborator of Jean-Michel Basquiat, with a combined high estimate of $900,000 (£709,000).

A custom Damien Hirst painting titled Your Song, signed and inscribed “xxx for Elton + David love Damien”, was gifted to the couple by the artist in 2008 and has an estimated price tag of $350,000 to $450,000 (£280,000 to £360,000).

The Collection of Sir Elton John: Goodbye Peachtree Road will go under the hammer in a series of “landmark sales” at Christie’s Rockefeller Centre beginning on 21 February where they are expected to fetch around $10m (£7.9m).

The auction also features many one-of-a-kind collectibles from beyond the art world.

John’s 1990 Bentley two-door convertible, which the singer calls “one of the most beautiful cars of all time”, comes with a price tag of $25,000 to $30,000 (£20,000 to £24,000). Meanwhile, his collector’s edition pinball machine, which promises to transport players to the front row of his live performances and is personally signed “With love from the Pinball Wizard”, has an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000 (£8,000 to £12,000).

A custom Damien Hirst painting titled Your Song, signed and inscribed “xxx for Elton + David love Damien”, was gifted to the couple by the artist in 2008 and has an estimated price tag of $350,000 to $450,000 (£280,000 to £360,000) (PA)
A custom Damien Hirst painting titled Your Song, signed and inscribed “xxx for Elton + David love Damien”, was gifted to the couple by the artist in 2008 and has an estimated price tag of $350,000 to $450,000 (£280,000 to £360,000) (PA)

For music aficionados, John’s Yamaha conservatory grand piano, on which he wrote the Broadway shows Billy Elliot and Aida, is expected to sell for as much as $50,000 (£39,000).

Many of the lots, however, are estimated to go for just a few thousands dollars, ensuring plenty of interest from fans of the “Rocket Man” singer alongside wealthy collectors.

John initially purchased his 2,500 sq ft duplex on Peachtree Road in the Buckhead neighbourhood of Atlanta in 1991. He bought four more adjoining apartments over the next three decades to accommodate his extensive art collection.

Furnish, who did not immediately respond to an interview request, told Christie’s that their adopted home in the Georgia state capital became both a source of inspiration for John’s musical pursuits and the place where he became a serious art collector.

It was also where John found an oasis from his struggles with addiction, Furnish said. “Atlanta opened this odyssey for Elton as a collector because prior to getting sober, he had completely emptied out his main home in Windsor and sold the contents,” he told Christie’s.

A Yamaha conservatory grand piano where he wrote the Broadway shows Billy Elliot and Aida on is expected to sell for as much as $50,000 (£39,000) (PA)
A Yamaha conservatory grand piano where he wrote the Broadway shows Billy Elliot and Aida on is expected to sell for as much as $50,000 (£39,000) (PA)

John’s close friendship with the late fashion designer Gianni Versace features prominently in the collection. Smong the hundreds of silk shirts owned by the singer, seven from Versace’s 1993 signature spring/summer collection are expected to net between $4,000 and $6,000 (£3,100 and £4,700).

“I never wore half of them – I just wanted to hang them. It was like an art installation with shirts,” John told Christie’s.

A lavish Versace porcelain dinner set and 19th Century armchairs upholstered in the Italian house’s fabrics are also set to go under the hammer. “Elton and Gianni used to bounce off each other all the time,” Furnish explained. “Elton found the exuberance of Gianni’s spirit so inspirational.”

On Monday (15 January), John won an Emmy Award for his live Farewell from Dodger Stadium concert, inducting the singer into an elite group of EGOT winners to have won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards.

An ivory and gold suit made by the designer Annie Reavey is up for sale in the Goodbye Peachtree Road auction at Christie’s (PA)
An ivory and gold suit made by the designer Annie Reavey is up for sale in the Goodbye Peachtree Road auction at Christie’s (PA)

It was his decision to step away from touring last year to spend more time with sons Zahary, 13, and Elijah, 11, that led them to sell their Atlanta apartment and its cherished artworks as they pondered John’s legacy, Furnish said.

Many of his works have lined the walls of the world’s most prestigious museums, such as London’s Tate Modern, and New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Speaking to Christie’s ahead of the auction, John said the Atlanta apartment was “like my man cave full of things that I loved, mementos from everywhere in the world, things that gave me inspiration every day”.

“It may not be everyone’s taste, but it’s certainly my taste,” he told the auction house.

While reluctantly leaving behind his home of 30 years, John told a crowd at his final performance in Atlanta in September 2023 that he would “take you with me in my heart, in my soul”.

This is the first time in more than two decades that John’s vast art collection has been placed on sale. In 2003, the “Your Song” musician sold a collection of items from his London home at auction at Sotheby’s, fetching $1.67m (£1.32m). He previously sold $8.2m (£6.47m) worth of artworks and collectibles at a Sotheby’s auction in London in 1988.

The Christie’s auction will take place across three days from 21 to 23 February, plus six online auctions, and will be on display to the public at the Rockefeller Center from 9 February.