Bookie Selwyn Demmy sells £5m Lowrys for animals
Source: Manchester Evening News
Bookmaking tycoon Selwyn Demmy has sold his Lowry collection for more than £5m – to raise money for destitute animals.
Mr Demmy, 78, who lives in Mottram St Andrew, put 21 paintings and drawings up for auction at Christie’s in London.
All but one of the works by the Salford-born artist were sold, raising a total of £5,182,050.
Mr Demmy, who started his Lowry collection in the early 1990s, said: "I was born around the corner from LS Lowry, in Cheetham Hill, and am a Salford man born and bred.
"For me, the works of Lowry have a very powerful personal resonance as they capture the heart and soul of the people and landscape which I have loved and lived in all my life.
"This collection of 21 paintings and drawings has brought me huge pleasure over the years.
"Art is not my only passion, however and, as many know, I have been committed to improving the lives of destitute animals for many years.
"It is now time for these wonderful art works to bring joy, contemplation and friendship to new homes, whilst I focus my full attention on the animals which, like the famous and beloved stick dogs that scamper throughout Lowry’s paintings, bring me great happiness."
Mr?Demmy runs Hunter’s Moon animal sanctuary in the grounds of his home.
He is well known as the region’s own ‘Dr Doolittle’, rescuing a menagerie of animals, including ducks, donkeys, geese and goats.
A note in the catalogue told potential buyers a proportion of the proceeds of the sale would be donated to the RSPCA.
The star of the sale was The Steps, Irk Place, 1928 – an oil painting that reached £713,250.
The painting, showing an area behind Victoria Station in Manchester called Irk Street where Lowry worked as a rent collector, had been valued at £400,000 to £600,000.
It was followed by the 1958 oil painting Street Scene, which was previously exhibited at the Royal Academy, London, and reached £657,250.
In the catalogue, Christie’s described it as ‘one of the finest portrayals of north-country urban life’.
The 1945 panoramic canvas The Playground was sold for £553,250.
The collection, spanning a period from the 1920s to the 1960s, included landscapes and seascapes as well as the industrial scenes for which Lowry was perhaps best known.
Mr Demmy built up a string of bookmaker chains before selling them.