Iconic Photographs at Christie’s Auction for Sir Elton John Foundation

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Herb Ritts (1952–2002), Backflip, Paradise Cove, 1987 Estimate: $40,000 – $60,000. All images, courtesy of CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2017

Next Wednesday, April 6, Christie’s will auction a special collection of 25 iconic photographs donated by top artists, estates and collectors to benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), an international non-profit organization Elton John founded 25 years ago with the goal of ending the AIDS epidemic.

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Cindy Sherman (b. 1954), Untitled #554, 2010/2012 Estimate: $60,000-80,000

“We started the Elton John AIDS Foundation 25 years ago and it is wonderful to commemorate this year with an extraordinary group of photographs, donated so kindly by some of the greatest photographers in the world,” says Sir Elton, the Oscar and Grammy Award-winning star.

This collection includes art from renowned photography masters from the early 20th century to the present. “The works in this auction represent 80 years of photographic history and are by some of the most recognized and respected names in the field,” says Darius Himes, International Head of Photographs, Christie’s.”They include Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Irving Penn, Peter Hujar, Cindy Sherman, Sally Mann, and Paul Graham. Many breakaway talents of the contemporary photographic art world are also represented including Alec Soth, Allison Rossiter, Richard Learoyd, Todd Hido, Katy Grannan, and Ahmet Ertug. The collectability of these works runs high, but the inspiration in this art is breathtaking.”

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Irving Penn (1917–2009), 1,000-Year-Old Eggs (A), New York, 2003. Estimate: $20,000-30,000 Courtesy of The Irving Penn Foundation © Condé Nast Publications, Inc.

Acknowledging the consistent support his foundation has received from the creative industries, John says, “They’ve been amazingly generous.”

Sir Elton’s own private photography collection is regarded as one of the greatest in the world. “A photograph brings me so much joy, they’re beautiful objects,’ he notes. Most of the collection was “largely acquired while on tour and from galleries across the world. You always find something different; that’s what I love about photography,’ he says. The exhibition Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection  is on show at Tate Modern in London until 21 May.

Championing new artists is also important to the singer and songwriter. ‘You could walk into someone’s first show and buy something you love for $1,500 and it can mean just as much to you as something you’d pay $100,000 for.”

2017 is a special year for John. In addition to commemorating the foundation’s 25th year, John says “It’s my 70th birthday, and the 50th anniversary of my songwriting partnership with Bernie Taupin.”

“I’m very excited about the pieces,’ Sir Elton said. ‘It’s an amazing array of photographers and great work. There’s not one bad photograph in there at all — [they’re] things that if I didn’t already have, I’d buy.” 

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