Richard Attenborough sells part of art collection

Thu Sep 24, 2009 12:16pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Film director Richard Attenborough is auctioning part of his collection of British paintings, including one he sold to help finance Oscar-winning movie "Gandhi" and which he bought back years later.

The 51 lots, representing a cross section of British art from the middle decades of the 20th century, are expected to fetch more than 2 million pounds ($3.2 million) at the November 11 London auction, Sotheby's said on Thursday.

"Lord and Lady Attenborough have been collecting for over 60 years, and started out just after the war," said James Rawlin, head of 20th century British art at Sotheby's.

"They were avid collectors and very enthusiastic collectors and, as with every enthusiastic collector, they ended up with more stuff than they had space for," he told Reuters.

In an introduction to the catalog, Attenborough added: "In all truth ... art belongs to no one, some of us are simply its temporary, fortunate and delighted custodians. Now these beautiful images will ravish the senses of their new owners."

Christopher Wood's "Card Players" was originally sold by Attenborough to raise finances for his 1982 Indian epic Gandhi, which went on to win eight Oscars including best director and best film.

"I desperately needed to raise money -- in fact for my long cherished film of 'Gandhi'," said Attenborough, who is now 86. "So I sold my beloved 'Card Players' by Christopher Wood, inspired by Cezanne and one of the first paintings I ever bought.

"As soon as it became available again and I could afford it, I bought it back!"   Continued...

<p>Sir Richard Attenborough attends British television actor John Thaw's memorial service at St Martin in the Fields church, London, September 4, 2002. REUTERS/Stringer</p>