Lowry collection raises £5m for animals

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A private collection of work by artist LS Lowry reached more than £5 million at auction today.

The paintings and drawings by the Lancashire-born artist were described as "the most extensive overview of Lowry's work ever to come to auction" by Christie's in London, where the sale took place.

They were owned by bookmaking tycoon Selwyn Demmy, who decided to put the collection of 21 works up for auction to raise money for destitute animals.

All but one of them, a pastel work, sold this afternoon, raising a total of £5,182,050. The lot that went for the highest sum 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.

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, who started collecting works by Lowry in the early 1990s, said before today's sale: "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."

The entrepreneur built up strings of bookmaker chains before selling them, and also established a boxing operation with his father.