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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 May, 2004, 20:08 GMT 21:08 UK
Fire 'destroys' Saatchi classics
Tracey Emin's bed
Saatchi's collection also includes Tracey Emin's Bed
Millions of pounds worth of artworks in Charles Saatchi's famous collection are feared destroyed in a warehouse fire.

Modern art classics including Tracey Emin's tent and Hell, by Jake and Dinos Chapman, may have perished in the blaze.

Monday's fire swept a London warehouse of leading art storers Momart.

"Charles is absolutely devastated. We are waiting for Momart to give us final confirmation," a Saatchi spokesman said.

In March, the high-profile collector's gallery celebrated its first year at County Hall on London's South Bank, with a lavish party and new exhibition launch.

We are absolutely devastated
Carole Hastings
Momart director
Momart director Carole Hastings said the company could confirm "no client information whatsoever" about which artworks were destroyed and to whom they belonged.

She said it is believed fire started in a neighbouring business unit at the Cromwell Estate, Leyton, East London before 0400 BST on Monday.

On Tuesday evening it was still smouldering and the area had been cordoned off.

Warehouse destroyed

The warehouse was now "non-existent" she said.

"We can't get within 300 yards of the site. We are very upset, absolutely devastated."

At the height of the blaze, more than 50 firefighters were at the scene and 500 people were evacuated.

Momart's clients include the National Gallery, Tate Modern and Britain and Buckingham Palace.

The destroyed warehouse makes up 5-10% of the company's storage capacity, she said.

Turner Prize art

The company, one of the world's largest specialists in handling fine arts and antiquities, spent Tuesday contacting clients to inform them of the loss.

Tracey Emin's tent "Everyone I have ever slept with 1963-5" has 102 names sewn onto the sides including her lovers, her aborted foetuses and relatives she slept with as a child.

It was nominated for the Turner Prize and Saatchi is thought to have paid $40,000 for it.

The Chapman brothers controversial work Hell is a series of nine miniature landscapes in glass tanks depicting scenes of disaster and destruction.

Saatchi commissioned Hell for a retrospective at his gallery for a reported 500,000.


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