Arts & Entertainment

Elton John Says Seized Photo Is Widely Published

Auction ServiceHolidaysSotheby's Holdings IncorporatedThanksgivingElton JohnMan Ray

Elton John said a photograph of two girls by Nan Goldin has been published around the world "without any objections of which we are aware" and auctioned twice by Sotheby's.

The photo, "Klara and Edda Belly-Dancing," was seized by Northumbria police from the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Newcastle, England, while on loan from the singer-songwriter, the Telegraph Web site said yesterday, citing police and gallery officials. The picture is being examined in case it could be offensive, the site said. Calls to the Baltic weren't returned.

Goldin's photo, part of a series called "Thanksgiving," appears in a 2003 monograph of the U.S. artist's work, "The Devil's Playground," and has been shown in Houston, London, Madrid, New York, Portugal, Warsaw and Zurich, John said on his Web site. Sotheby's offered the same image in New York in 2002 and 2004, he said.

Goldin's 1998 picture, which had the title "Edda and Klara Belly-Dancing," sold for $3,000 in 2004 after failing to sell in 2002, Sotheby's said in an e-mail. The work was No. 2 in an edition of 15. Goldin's record of $284,500 was set at Christie's International in 2002 for the "Thanksgiving" series of 149 images, according to auction-tracker Artnet AG, whose database shows Goldin's female nudes have often been sold at auction houses.

John, an art collector, owns thousands of photos by artists including Man Ray, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Diane Arbus and Ansel Adams, according to his Web site. He bought Goldin's picture as part of the "Thanksgiving" series at London's White Cube gallery in 1999, he said.

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