Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Beckham the Art Collector Snaps Up Hirst Painting-Londoner's Diary

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Beckham the Art Collector Snaps Up Hirst Painting-Londoner's Diary

Article excerpt

NOT CONTENT with switching from Manchester United to Real Madrid, I learn David Beckham has joined the ranks of celebrity modern art collectors.

Becks has bought a Damien Hirst butterfly painting from Hirst's art dealer Jay Jopling as a fourth wedding anniversary present for wife Victoria, reportedly on the recommendation of their mutual friend Sir Elton John.

Jopling is also believed to have helped Beckham choose where the painting should hang.

Hirst's butterfly paintings are highly coveted. Sotheby's sold a circular butterfly painting for [pounds sterling]240,000 in June and a heart-shaped butterfly is on show in the new Saatchi Gallery in County Hall.

The Beckhams are not known as art lovers. The only evidence on show at the couple's Hertfordshire mansion, 'Beckingham Palace', is the state-of-the-art kitchen and the ancient art of feng shui .

The England captain is, of course, somewhat of a modern artistic icon himself. In 1999 Beckham angered church leaders when he appeared on the cover of Time Out magazine during Easter week wearing all white and sporting three crucifixes alongside the strapline: "The Resurrection of David Beckham." Two years later he paraded a Mohican haircut in The Face with what appeared to be blood trickling down his face.

Beckham and Jopling's agents declined to comment on his new role as patron of Brit Art.

Tories go mad for Atkins diet

TORY MP Francis Maude has lost half a stone after going on the Atkins diet.

His decision represents a craze among Tory MPs buoyed by the opinion polls and keen to become fit for power. Shadow Home Secretary Oliver Letwin, another Atkins dieter, has lost a more impressive one and a half stone but Maude intends to persist.

"I had a birthday in the middle of my diet which didn't help but I am keeping at it," Maude tells me.

"It is being maintained in an attenuated form. Apparently five out of the 14 most read books in the world are by Robert Atkins so it's not just a craze among politicians."

BBC threat to pen power

THE GOOD times seem to be over for those BBC hacks with lucrative freelance sidelines. …

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