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Last Updated: Monday, 31 May, 2004, 10:10 GMT 11:10 UK
Saatchi art fire: Your reaction
A detail from Hell by Jake & Dinos Chapman, which is feared destroyed after a warehouse fire in East London
More than 100 artworks owned by the collector Charles Saatchi have been destroyed following a fire at a storage warehouse in East London.

Modern art classics including Tracey Emin's tent as well as works by Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas and Jake and Dinos Chapman are said to have been lost in the fire.

Works by Patrick Caulfield, Craigie Horsfield and 20 pieces by Martin Maloney were also destroyed.

They represent some of the cream of the so-called "Britart" movement of celebrated modern artists.

What's your reaction? Does this mark the loss of an important cultural collection of art? Where should private collections be stored?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far.

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by Fraser Irving, Sheffield:
What do people think about the Saatchi art fire?

I think many of the comments here identify the obscene connection between art and the business/money world. Because of this connection it is totally fuzzy as to whether it was money or art that was destroyed in the fire. Artists need to divorce themselves from the world of business/money and make sure that the art they produce is art for arts sake. I have no doubt that the integrity of many artists these days is poisoned and diluted by the marriage between art and money.
Dave, Sheffield

The art pieces were important to the owners, insurers, and the small 'elite' of art lovers only. This loss is otherwise culturally insignificant for the vast majority of people in this country.
Mark Griffiths, Woking, UK

It's amazing to read how many short sighted morons there are on this website, did everyone know that Turner was mocked and ridiculed when his "mop and bucket" seascapes hit the public domain for the first time? He is now revered as one of Britain's best and most important artists.
Philip Thompson, Aberdeen , Scotland

I am outraged. Doesn't Mr Saatchi know it is illegal to burn garbage without a permit?
Reece Walker, London UK

The concept exists and has been extensively photographed
John, London
Modern art is always asking "what is art?" Well, classical fine art is destroyed in a fire because the quality of the draftmanship and brushwork is lost. But Tracey Emin & Damien Hirst are conceptual artists - so perhaps the art is not really lost at all. The concept exists and has been extensively photographed. The only thing destroyed is bankable assets.
John, London

The title "The bonfire of the vanities" comes to mind.
A. Parsons, Burton on Trent

This is devastating for anyone who has an interest in art. This was a great collection which Charles Saatchi invested in for all of us. It is immaterial whether you like the work or not! They will be a huge loss.
Jan Worth, Leicester

I don't know about everyone else, but I'm bearing up pretty well. A rich man loses some objects that he paid a lot of money for, which he kept in a warehouse, and which most of us don't appreciate. I expect I'll get over it.
Mike Horner, Macclesfield, UK

Any loss like this is sad, but why so little reporting of the catastrophic effect this fire will have on the 30-40 small firms whose premises have been destroyed?
Simon Harvey Williams, Onslow Village, Guildford, UK

Maybe they could enter the charred remains for the Turner prize
Gareth Dunn, Edinburgh
I can't imagine how anyone can call a tent or a shed art. I can only assume it's because they can't paint, sculpt or turn a clay pot. This fire is no great loss to the art world especially as some of the artists have already said they can knock up replacements quite quickly. No surprise there. I can't help thinking the fortunes wasted on this stuff could have been better spent feeding a starving child in Africa or saving a rain forest somewhere. Maybe they could enter the charred remains for the Turner prize as some kind of consolation?
Gareth Dunn, Edinburgh

"I'm devastated" devastated that is that someone with so much power and wealth rated this dross so highly. This art and its originators are vastly over-rated and over-rewarded. They're not developing a cure for cancer. It's a shame the stuff was lost, but get a grip, it is only stuff!
Peter Dunne, Peterborough

Couldn't have happened to a better collection, the works of Emin and Hirst in particular. I have always thought the rubbish produced by these people would make a good bonfire. We are continually insulted by theses people who tell us that if we don't love and appreciate these works then we must be stupid. I, for one, remember the fairy tale of the Emperor's new clothes. Besides, these artists will be rubbing their untalented hands together now...
Kate Rodgers, West Midlands, UK

His livelihood has literally gone up in smoke
Simon, Newcastle
Some of these comments make me mad! If you knew anything about any of this art you would be mad to say it takes no talent. Granted, Hirst for example allegedly does little of the work himself, rather he produces the concept, but this is no reason to be pleased that his livelihood has literally gone up in smoke. But if you actually knew anything on the subject you would know of the other artists and hundreds of other pieces that took infinite skill to create and think of in the first place.
Simon, Newcastle!

Bet the insurance pay out is far more than the items would ever have made if sold. I've got a few unmade beds for sale to interested bidders. In fact for the right price I'll throw in the stroppy teenage occupant. He can reduce any tidy room to the state of Tracey's bedroom if left to his own devices for a day or two.
Karen Wood, Lincolnshire

Considering how much suffering and poverty there is in the world - the loss of art work is by way trivial in comparison!
Caomhin O' Loingsigh, New York, NY

I'm sure they'll be able to buy another tent down at the local camping shop for just a few pounds. At this time of year there loads on special offer.
Philip Gillespie, Frankfurt, Germany

I hope these works don't become mythologised as a consequence of their destruction. On the whole they were not great works of art, just fleetingly fashionable art products, representing an interesting period for art history but essentially no great cultural loss.
Steve Scott, Manchester

To the average person in the street it's no great loss. I don't think most people really understood this type of art. For example how long can look at coloured spots or an unmade bed ? Myself probably about 30 seconds.
Karsan, Harrow

I don't see any reason for gloating over the destruction of someone's own personal collection
Jamie, Reading, UK
What a bunch of mean spirited people there are leaving messages here. Did you pay for the artworks? No. So what exactly are your grievances? Whether you like the work that was inside or not (and I should hazard a guess that many of you don't know even 5% of the work), I don't see any reason for gloating over the destruction of someone's own personal collection. I personally have never liked Tracey Emin's work - but I certainly don't want to see it destroyed; in the same way that I don't want to see my neighbour's house go up in flames merely because I dislike their net curtains.
Jamie, Reading, UK

I too have a fine art transport/storage company. The results of this will cause collectors, museums, and galleries to think twice about the facility they store their art in. This is a niche industry and Momart is one of the giants. This makes all of us now think.
Walied Osman, New York, USA

I can't believe the comments I've read. You may not like the art, but it was all important. It's part of our social history. I can't imagine how gutted the artists must feel.
Tom, Crawley, West Sussex

Probably the best thing that could have happened to most of it. No doubt one of these so-called artists will try to keep the building in the state it's in the name of modern art and charge the stupid modern art lovers a fortune to go down the street and see it. How about some real art that takes talent.
Bill, Dunmow, UK

What a sad loss. I was never a modern art fan until I recently saw the Chapman Brothers retrospective at the Saatchi Gallery - then the energy and excitement of the Brit Art movement struck me, and I was hooked. I count myself lucky to have been able to experience them before it was too late. I wonder how many people like me will now never 'get' British modern art with the loss of all this important work?
Fiona, Scotland

A real shame that so many works have been lost
Sophie, Swindon, UK
It's a real shame that so many works have been lost. While people are scoffing at the quality of the artworks destroyed in the blaze, we must remember that many well-loved artists, like Van Gogh, were unpopular and unacknowledged during their life-times. These pieces by the Chapman brothers, Emin and Hirst can never be judged by the critical eye of future viewers so we will never know how important they could have been.
Sophie, Swindon, UK

I think it would have made a great modern art exhibit in itself. I would have paid at least 10 to have seen 'Modern Art Inferno'.
Steve Johnson, London

Charles Saatchi probably won't lose out, the market for this type of "art" is subject to the whims of fashion. Who knows, he may even get more back from the insurers than he could have sold them for. Insurance companies recoup the money they pay out by increasing premiums: all art loving members of the public will end up paying for this through increased admission charges.
Huw Pagler, Stavanger, Norway, ex Wales

I always hoped Emin's 'Everyone I ever slept with' would be exhibited again and I'd get a chance to lie on my back in the tent and read the names. Now it looks like I never will.
Elizabeth Veldon, Glasgow, Scotland

Not a great loss to late 20th/early 21st century society, but who knows how future people would have viewed them? As to where to store private collections, where else but in the public domain so we can all enjoy them.
Chris Naylor, Nottingham, England

Art is only good when people like it
Stephen Thomson, Glasgow, UK
If all the work is to the same standard as Emin and Hirst's then this is no great loss. Art is only good when people like it not when a critic has to tell you it's good. Give me a Jack Vatriano any day!
Stephen Thomson, Glasgow, UK

Whilst I have a small amount of sympathy for those who stand to lose money (though I am sure they are insured) I can't say it is a great loss as you cannot really class this as art. Also when there are so many starving and so many refugees from war in the world surely the money would be much better utilised helping mankind.
Brian, London

What's the point of a collection you or nobody else can't actually see? The crying shame is that no doubt Saatchi is well insured so won't lose out financially, but the rest of us will because the art can never be seen again.
Steve, UK

Will anyone be able to tell the difference?...and why were these so- called 'masterpieces' being held in such a fire-trap anyway? Perhaps it was a work of performance art in itself and the video of the fire can be played over and over again, and eventually win the Turner Prize.
Alan T, London

I am very much surprised that someone of Mr Saatchi's experience and wealth would put all his eggs in one basket.
John, London

Many of the modern works of art can easily be replaced as they're well within the scope even of school pupils to recreate and any competent craftsman will be able to create them without too much difficulty but, no doubt, without the great financial rewards of the original creators.
JohnM, LyneMeads, UK




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