Lampshade 'made from the skins of Jewish Holocaust victims' to be sold - This Britain - UK - The Independent

Lampshade 'made from the skins of Jewish Holocaust victims' to be sold

A lampshade allegedly made from the skins of Jews who died in the Holocaust may be sold at auction, despite the protests of Jewish groups.

The lamp forms part of a controversial collection of artefacts assembled by Robert Lenkiewicz, a leading portrait artist who once famously embalmed the body of a tramp.

Jewish leaders fear the lamp may now be sold to the highest bidder to help pay off £2m debts owed by the Lenkiewicz estate and accrued by the artist, who died in 2002. Jewish groups say the lamp should be buried with dignity.

Most of the gruesome collection, which also features the skeleton of a 16th-century witch, will go under the hammer in the autumn as the artist's estate attempts to clear the debts.

Lenkiewicz was an acclaimed artist whose subjects included Michael Foot, Billy Connolly and Terry Waite and whose paintings sold for tens of thousands of pounds.

His family have reluctantly agreed to the sale after failing to raise enough money through other means. His brother, Jon Lenkiewicz, said: "The sale runs completely counter to Robert's intentions, but the costs are pretty enormous and the claims are large. It's a tragedy. It would have been so good to preserve everything."

Neither the lampshade nor the body of the tramp is part of the forthcoming auction, but some fear that they are bound to reach the market eventually.

The estate's executor, Peter Walmsley, admitted that the lamp might have to be sold eventually. "It's not the sort of thing we would put into an auction sale lightly," he said. "But it may have to be sold at some stage. I may not have a choice about it. Sales will be made to meet the claims of the creditors."

Jewish leaders have warned that any sale of the lamp - whether authentic or not - would be "revolting and inhumane". They called for its burial and a promise from the estate that it will never go into auction.

Lenkiewicz claimed the lamp was made in Auschwitz in 1940, but Holocaust experts dispute this. Lord Janner, chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, questioned the lamp's authenticity. But he added: "If it is real, to sell it would be the most revolting and inhumane way to raise funds."

As well as his bizarre collection, Lenkiewicz also left 15 children - just two of whom were from his three marriages.

Once all the debts have been cleared, the remains of the estate will be passed to the Lenkiewicz Foundation, set up to protect the artist's legacy and look after his collection. The foundation's trustees now fear that little will remain. Many of his paintings have already been sold, as has a large proportion of his vast book collection.

A large outstanding income tax bill makes up the majority of the debt, but creditors also include those who have paid for paintings that Lenkiewicz never got the chance to finish. Mr Walmsley needs to raise approximately £2m to cover all the creditors' claims.

Lenkiewicz, the son of Jewish refugees, was born in London during the Second World War. He went to St Martin's art college at the age of 16 and later attended the Royal Academy. After moving to Plymouth in the early 1960s, he took over warehouses in order to house the tramps and alcoholics he had befriended.

Items included in the auction, organised by Bearne's of Exeter in October, are understood to include an ornate coffin, a series of skulls and the skeleton of a 16th-century woman hanged for witchcraft.

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week