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Tuesday, 12 November, 2002, 07:25 GMT
Tramp's body given to artist's estate
Robert Lenkiewicz
Robert Lenkiewicz did the embalming as a request
The embalmed body of a tramp who died 18 years ago could be put on display after being released to an artist's estate, a coroner has said.

The body of Edwin MacKenzie, who was known as Diogenes, was found hidden in a chest of drawers in the studio of Plymouth-based artist Robert Lenkiewicz.

The discovery in mid-August came after Mr Lenkiewicz, 60, died of a heart attack.

Plymouth and South Devon Coroner Nigel Meadows ruled it should go back to the executor of the Lenkiewicz estate.

Edwin 'Diogenes' McKenzie
Edwin McKenzie's body was found in a drawer
Edwin McKenzie was a close friend of the artist. The whereabouts of the 72-year-old's body since his death in the 1980s had been a mystery.

It was believed the dying wish of Mr McKenzie, who had no known family, was that his friend should embalm his body as a "work of art".

After the body was found, the coroner was asked to decide who should have legal possession.

Mr Meadows said the executor of the Lenkiewicz estate could have the body cremated or transferred to the Lenkiewicz Foundation, the charity responsible for the artist's paintings and books.

He said it would be up to the foundation to decide what to do with the body.

But he continued: "Provided they comply with health and safety regulations and don't outrage public decency it is possible that they could retain the body on some sort of public display."

Body released

Robert Lenkiewicz studied at St Martin's College of Art, London. He then moved to the South West in the early 1970s.

The artist was a well-known figure around Plymouth.

Edwin McKenzie's body will be released from the mortuary at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth next week.

The coroner will consider any objections made within the next seven days.


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24 Oct 02 | England
11 Oct 02 | England
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