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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 September 2007, 09:45 GMT 10:45 UK
Sir Elton owns 'porn probe' photo
Sir Elton John
Sir Elton has a substantial collection of photographic art
A photograph at the centre of a child pornography investigation belongs to Sir Elton John, his website states.

"Klara and Edda belly-dancing" by Nan Goldin was seized by police from Gateshead's Baltic Centre on 20 September, the singer's spokesman said.

The image of two naked young girls is part of an exhibition owned by Sir Elton, which is on loan to the Baltic.

A spokesman for the singer said the photograph had been exhibited around the world without objections.

Northumbria Police were alerted by Baltic managers the day before five collections were due to be unveiled.

A statement on the singer's website said the image, part of the Thanksgiving exhibition, was from a monograph of the American photographer's works entitled "The Devil's Playground".

Item assessed

It was offered for sale at Sotheby's New York in 2002 and 2004, and exhibited in Houston, London, Madrid, New York, Portugal, Warsaw and Zurich.

The statement added: "Elton John is known as one of the world's foremost collectors of photographic art and has several thousand photographs in his collection, including works by Man Ray, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Diane Arbus and Ansel Adams."

Goldin, 54, who is well known for using semi-naked models, was not available to comment.

Baltic centre for contemporary art, Gateshead
The Baltic Centre opened in 2002

In March 2001, police were called to the Saatchi Gallery in north London after complaints that controversial photographs, taken by artists including Goldin, were indecent.

But the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that after careful consideration there was no realistic prospect of any conviction under the Protection of Children Act 1978.

On Wednesday a CPS spokeswoman said it was offering preliminary advice in the Baltic investigation, but would not be directly involved until a file had been received from police officers.

A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said: "We attended the Baltic last Thursday at the invitation of management, who were seeking advice about an item from an exhibition prior to it going on public display.

"This item is being assessed and Northumbria Police, in consultation with the CPS, is investigating the circumstances surrounding it."

A gallery spokeswoman said no exhibitions were being removed as a result.

A glimpse of the controversial piece of art


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