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Jonathan Ross buys David Bowie self-portrait for £20,000

Jonathan Ross forked out £20,000 at a charity auction last night for a self-portrait of his hero, David Bowie.

Ross, 48, one of the best-paid figures in British broadcasting, was treating himself after he was presented with a music industry award for the exposure he has given to new artists.

He was handed his Music Industry Trusts (MITs) gong by pop star George Michael at a ceremony last night in central London.

The artwork was from a series of five self-portraits Bowie produced for his 1995 album Outside.

Earlier in the evening a message of congratulations sent from Bowie was read aloud by host Paul Gambaccini.

Bowie poked fun at Ross's own musical dabblings: "I love both your records... and if I play them at the same time your Ws sound like Rs."

Singer Michael also sent himself up, making light of his recent stint in the Priory.

He said: "I've been thinking how I can put this - on my way from the Priory this evening - in the back of a lovely van - having been given day release."

Ross joined in the joke: "Wow, what a treat. George Michael, wow. I thought you were dead.

"And he's giving me a lift home, I can't believe my luck."

Holding his award up to the crowd, Ross said: "It's shoddy, it's cheap-looking. Was it handcrafted by a 14-year-old in Taiwan?

"But it's what it represents and I'm touched and I don't feel worthy."

MITs award committee chairman David Munns said: "We salute Jonathan in recognition of his passion for music, enthusiasm for discovering and encouraging musicians and the importance of his two shows for artist development, providing valuable support in challenging times."

Ross responded modestly to the praise heaped on him.

"It's as much for that as for sticking around for so long, I think. It's one of those borderline lifetime achievement awards for surviving."

And the Radio 2 presenter paid tribute to the UK music scene: "I love it when I see British bands do well, I get very excited.

"We're lucky in this country that, for whatever reasons, and I've never quite understood why, we seem to produce just about the best bands in the world.

"We're a tiny little island with some tiny little countries attached but we've just produced incredible music and we have done so since the late '50s - it's just a remarkable place for that, we're so very fertile."

Some of the money raised by the charitable evening goes to the Brit Trust which helps nurture young musical talent.

Ross paid tribute to its work but could not help teasing: "I'm not a big fan of Katie Melua, I must be honest, but I'll overlook that."