Elton John’s Art, Flamboyant Fashions and More Head to Christie’s

The performer and his husband, David Furnish, recently sold their Atlanta condo, and pieces from the massive art collection it housed, along with a grand piano and tour ephemera, are headed to auction.

TERRY O’NEILL, ‘Elton John (Album Cover Variant),’ 1974. Courtesy Christie's

Like all the best auctions, The Collection of Sir Elton John: Goodbye Peachtree Road at Christie’s tells a compelling story. Atlanta might seem like a strange place for the British megastar musician, who performed the final show of his 53-year career last year, to have put down roots, but Sir John’s purchase of a Park Place on Peachtree condo in 1991 was strategic—and personal.

His initial journey toward sobriety, undertaken following some of the darkest moments of his battle with addiction, involved divestment. Lots of it. He emptied his estate in England near Windsor and auctioned off its contents. From there, he pursued change in a big way. First, he sought a new home base in the U.S. According to the Buckhead Paper—a niche local publication serving the community around Peachtree Road—John found Los Angeles to be overwhelming and New York unsafe. Atlanta, by contrast, offered him “as normal a life as I can lead anywhere in the world,” as he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2004.

Inside Elton John’s Atlanta condo. Photograph © 2023, Visko Hatfield

It also offered (after John in subsequent years purchased and combined six adjoining Park Place units to create more than 13,500 square feet of space) a place for him to return to collecting, not just art and sculpture, crucifixes and Versace silks, but also fine art photography. Lots of it. That was new for him, and those whose lives have been touched by addiction might be familiar with the before-and-after arc of the musician’s narrative.

“He was starting with a clean slate,” John’s husband, Canadian-British filmmaker David Furnish, told Christie’s. “Elton very much looked at the world differently, and new things spoke to him in a way that they hadn’t before.’

Today, Elton John has one of the largest private photography collections in the world, featuring work by Irving Penn, Herb Ritts, Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon and many others. His collection has formed the basis of museum shows, including “Chorus of Light” at the High Museum of Art and “The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection” at Tate Modern, and will be shown later this year in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s “Fragile Beauty: Photographs from the Sir Elton John and David Furnish Collection” show. Ironic for someone who didn’t appreciate photography for much of his life. “I’ve had my photograph taken by so many famous photographers, but I never considered it as an art form until I got sober,” John said in a statement shared by the auction house.

Photographs feature heavily in The Collection of Sir Elton John, which will be exhibited at Christie’s New York from February 9 through February 21, including the first of Terry O’Neill’s fifty prints of Elton John, Dodger’s Stadium, 1975. Among the nearly 900 lots are dashing pieces from the singer’s closet—including several examples of striking 70s-era footwear and just the sort of ostentatious sunglasses one would expect to see—and John’s own Yamaha C6F PE Conservatory grand piano.

Elton John’s piano in the Peachtree Road penthouse. Photograph © 2023, Visko Hatfield

“It may not be everyone’s taste, but it’s certainly my taste,” John said of the collection going on the block, which also includes works by Tracey Emin, Boaz Vaadia, Julian Schnabel, Grayson Perry and Banksy, whose Flower Thrower Triptych has the highest estimate of any lot in the auction.

“My apartment in Atlanta was like my man cave full of things that I loved, mementos from everywhere in the world, things that gave me inspiration every day.”

Inside Elton John’s Peachtree Road closet. Photograph © 2023, Visko Hatfield

The Collection of Sir Elton John: Goodbye Peachtree Road will kick off with several online auctions that open for bidding on February 9, with live sales on February 21, 22 and 23. 

Elton John’s Art, Flamboyant Fashions and More Head to Christie’s