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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Through the keyhole with Elton
by Ian Youngs
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Nearly every item from Sir Elton John's London house has gone on display at Sotheby's before being auctioned next week.

Sir Elton John gold and platinum discs
Sir Elton is selling the contents of one house - including gold discs
It was almost as if Sir Elton himself had thrown open the door, held his arms out and screamed "come in, darlings".

His house has been faithfully recreated, room by room, in Sotheby's galleries in central London - and opened to the press on Wednesday.

In the mother of all garage sales, everything but the kitchen sink is there - and everything must go.

If you want a wooden message pad holder on which Sir Elton has (possibly) scrawled messages from Victoria Beckham, it could be yours - as part of a set - for £400.

Or perhaps you might fancy a pillow from one of his beds with the words "laugh often, love much, live well". Priced at £800, they will throw in the bed too.

Leopardskin chairs and panther paintings
His love of leopards and panthers was on show at Sotheby's
Maybe you would prefer seven platinum discs from the Czech Republic, a set of ceramic cows or a leopardskin chaise longue.

And I bet Napoleon, whose brass bust sits in the bedroom, has some tales to tell.

Sotheby's has gone to so much trouble to stick to Sir Elton's original room arrangements that they even got his housekeepers in to make the beds and ordered flowers from his florist.

The resulting displays - ahead of the auction on Tuesday - give a rare insight into Sir Elton's world.

"It's hugely stylish - it's very varied and he has a little bit of everything," said Alexandra Reece, house sale specialist at Sotheby's.

She said there was "a bit of every aspect of his life" and the auction would appeal to serious collectors as well as memorabilia hunters.

Sir Elton's living room
Sir Elton's living room: A pair of sofas is a snip at £800
As well as the odd items, many of the 480 lots comprise light-coloured furniture, paintings from the 16th Century to the modern day, and household items like lamps and a dinner set.

"It's a very English country house sale-type taste, with heavyweight British pictures, but also modern influences," Ms Reece said.

"It's a very strong collection and we've certainly had interest from all over the world from regular buyers."

Wandering around his house, it confirms what we already knew about Sir Elton - he is a ferocious spender with a great sense of fun and pretensions to grandeur.

The most expensive item is a portrait of Elizabeth Honeywood, by early 17th Century artist William Larkin, with an estimated price of £30,000-£40,000.

It was hung in the main hallway, leading into a compact living room dominated by bright sofas, golden ornaments and wooden tables.

Ceramic cow and pig
The 480 lots on sale will get contemporary replacements
The main pair of yellow and grey striped sofas are priced at £600-£800 - not a bad second-hand deal when you can also imagine which derrieres have sat on them.

Part of the fun is to fantasise about what went on in these rooms - did Sir Elton ever pick up one of the stripey cushions and throw it at the pair of French silver-gilt sweetmeat stands on the mantelpiece?

Did he write Candle in the Wind while looking at the candlesticks on his dinner table, or was Made in England inspired by the items designed by royal furniture maker David Linley?

Fans do not have to have thousands to spare if they want to get a piece of Sir Elton home-ware.

The cheapest lot is a large Doulton basin and an earthenware jardinière with views of Venice - at just £40-60 for the pair.

Sir Elton's dining room
Everything from the plates to the chairs has a price
Gold and platinum discs - mostly from countries like Austria, Taiwan and Switzerland - are priced from about £500 each.

And colourfully tacky vases are on sale for several hundred pounds - although some look like they would struggle to find buyers at car boot sales.

But although there are some plainly cheesy pieces and others are obviously tongue-in-cheek, his tastes and impulses are proved to be voracious and varied.

He is having this clear-out to make way for modern decoration, swapping the classical paintings for black-and-white photographs.

And if he does not like the new style, he always has his four other houses.

In pictures: Sir Elton John's home
13 Sep 03  |  Photo Gallery
Sir Elton to sell home's contents
13 Sep 03  |  Entertainment
Elton John hit gets classical cover
21 Sep 03  |  Entertainment
Sir Elton tops singles chart
31 Aug 03  |  Entertainment
Grant pays for costly Elton dinner
29 Jun 03  |  Entertainment
Elton takes vampires to Broadway
07 May 03  |  Entertainment


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