PHOTOGRAPHY / Madonna put up for sale: Jane Richards previews tonight's celebrity auction at Christie's for Aids support

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The Independent Culture
London's best photography show currently is 'Out of Shadow' - a collection of images by the world's top snappers - at Christie's auction house. On show from 9am to 4.30pm today before going under the hammer at 8pm tonight, this is an impressive roll-call of 100 prints by the likes of Annie Liebovitz, David Bailey, Snowdon, Bruce Weber, Irving Penn and Sebastiao Salgado. The proceeds of the sale will go to London Lighthouse, the residential and support centre for people affected by HIV and AIDS.

'Out of Shadow' is the second sale to be mounted by Christie's for London Lighthouse (in 1988 an auction of paintings 'Art Works for London Lighthouse' raised pounds 500,000). Approached by London Lighthouse, photography curators Peter Ride (director of the Cambridge Darkroom Gallery) and Peter Hay Halpert (New York critic and curator) were inspired by the success of charity auctions in America: 'Americans are so much more up front about being seen to be spending a lot of money for charity,' says Ride.

'We're hoping that the British will lose a little of their reserve and get caught up in the excitement - for a good cause.'

Most of the photographs have been donated by the photographers themselves. Included are 39 original, signed exhibition prints donated by Snowdon from his 1989 show 'Serendipity' - an idiosyncratic collection of portraiture, including Barry Humphries (main picture right) photographed with his head protruding from a commode ( pounds 400- pounds 500). As these are laminated exhibition prints mounted on board they are reasonably priced. Individual prints can be secured for as little as pounds 100 (Laurence Olivier as King Lear, 1983).

Estimated prices reflect current gallery prices and rarity of print. Annie Liebovitz photographs, for instance, generally start at pounds 1,000; her limited edition print of Mick Jagger, taken in 1992, is expected to fetch pounds 1,250- pounds 1,400. Irving Penn's exquisite platinum print limited editions are expected to reach the highest prices in the sale - Ospedale (below right) is estimated at pounds 2,800- pounds 3,100; David Bailey's limited edition platinum print of Marianne Faithful, 1964 (top right) is expected to go for around pounds 1,100- pounds 1,300. A colour photograph of Marilyn Monroe by George Barris ( pounds 300- pounds 400) is noteable for being one of her last photo-shoots, while a hand-painted piece by Luis Gonzalez Palma - currently flavour of the month in the United States - is estimated to fetch between pounds 2,000- pounds 2,400. Meanwhile British buyers may be keen to snap up a Steven Meisel print - he took the photographs for Madonna's book SEX. Meisel's photographs have never been exhibited or offered for sale in this country and Untitled (Madonna hitch- hiking) is offered up here for a cool pounds 3,500- pounds 4,000.

Christie's, 8 King St, St James's, London SW1 (071-839 9060). Viewing: 9am- 4.30pm. Admission to sale by catalogue only, pounds 10.

(Photograph omitted)

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