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Sotheby’s Bows to King of the Jungle

One week Sotheby’s is selling Renaissance sculpture. The next week it’s got Disney’s “Lion King” illustrations of Simba, Mufasa and Scar on the block.

Has this bastion of highbrow art gone downscale?

“Over the last decade we’ve tried to go from being exclusive to being a full-service auction house,” said Fredric Backlar, senior manager of Sotheby’s decorative arts. “We’ve gone from Van Goghs to teddy bears. People mostly think of Sotheby’s as a 230-year-old firm where people would bid with a handkerchief. Now we have to open up to other collections.”

Ergo, a special exhibit of artwork from Disney’s hit animated feature “The Lion King,” to be held Jan. 19-29 at Sotheby’s in Beverly Hills. It is a lead-up to an auction of more than 250 pieces of artwork from the film that will take place in New York on Feb. 11.

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“It’s a fairly new market and new collecting field that began in the ‘80s,” said Laura Maslon, spokeswoman for the Sotheby’s.

Walt Disney Studios will donate proceeds from the sale of “The Lion King” artwork to the National Audubon Society to support its projects to protect the environment.

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SILK RIFFS: Rockers, don’t even think about trashing this hotel room.

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The decor of the one-bedroom suite at the Beverly Prescott Hotel was inspired by none other than Jerry Garcia, the well-known tie designer, who also picks up a little extra cash by playing guitar for the Grateful Dead.

The walls are covered in the same silk the musician used for his line of J. Garcia neckwear.

Chairs are upholstered with his “Lady with Argyle Socks” print. A dozen lithographs and other works by Garcia, including a signed necktie, are also on display in the J. Garcia Suite.

The cost of renting room 907 at the hotel, located at Beverwil Drive and Pico Boulevard, is $300.

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It will be available beginning Jan. 26.

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RIDER ON THE STORM: Many surfers elected to sit out the recent storms, concerned about the pollution and debris that the rains swept into Santa Monica Bay.

Then there was Malibu wave rider Tom Dion.

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During the heavy rains Wednesday, Dion slapped on his helmet and decided to try his luck at a series of reef breaks just north of Zuma Beach.

As he paddled out into 20-foot waves the color of chocolate milk, he encountered rattlesnakes, logs, plastic bottles, buckets, Frisbees, tennis balls and more.

“It was eerie, the storms really flushed out the canyons,” said Dion. “It was also the worst beach erosion I’ve seen since 1983. There were all kinds of exposed rocks and underwater boulders.”

While riding, Dion hit a few pieces of wood, and has so far escaped any signs of infection.

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“The surf was great, and with the highway shut off there was no one around,” he said. “However, I wouldn’t recommend doing this without a helmet and the right equipment.” And perhaps a personal physician.


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