MEMENTOS of the notorious Kray Twins amassed while they served life sentences in Parkhurst and Broadmoor were offered in some 160 lots at Chiswick Auctions on the evening of January 26.
The photos, clothing, paintings, poems and letters, consigned by
'a close friend' of the twins, were offered without reserve or
estimates. All bar one sold to bring a total of almost £111,000,
nearly half of which, said auctioneer William Rouse, came from a
single private buyer.
"The interest was phenomenal from the beginning," he said. "It
was extraordinary and there's been an extraordinary group of people
in the saleroom, not our conventional bidders."
Some extraordinary names, too, among the signed photographs sent
to the Krays in jail - Barbra Streisand, Mark Knopfler, TV
presenter Fern Britton and actress Patsy Kensit among them - which
The biggest single bid was for a pair of Ronnie's gold cufflinks
- forming the initials RK - which made £10,000.
At the West London sale there was interest from across Britain
and from as far away as the USA and Singapore and more than 40 per
cent of the sale sold over ATG Media's live online auction service,
Ronnie and Reggie rose to fame in the 1950s and '60s. Based in
London's East End (where they were accorded some reverence for
keeping law and order and only murdering and torturing "their
own"), they ran protection rackets in the West End and enjoyed
considerable glamour which barely faded after both were jailed for
murder in 1969. Ronnie died in Broadmoor in 1995. Reggie was
released from Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight in 2000 on health
grounds and died shortly afterwards. But the fascination they
engendered never faded.
Of interest to ATG readers was the letter, on Marlborough
Gallery headed notepaper, which Francis Bacon wrote to Ronnie
thanking him for a picture. Ronnie's own paintings do have a market
value. Last July eight of them sold for a total of nearly £16,000
at Suffolk auctioneers Mander of Clare. Here at Chiswick, his oil
Crucifixion, which he had given to a prison warder, took £4800.
As neither was a stranger to London's loucher clubs in the '60s,
Ronnie and Bacon could well have met. Like Bacon, Ronnie made no
secret among friends of his sexual leanings, but he did not
consider them a matter for public debate and cracked down hard on
homophobia as contemporary East End hard man George Cornell was to
After hearing that Cornell had referred to him as "a fat poof",
Ronnie shot him dead in the notorious Whitechapel murder in the
Blind Beggar pub in 1966.
The relationship with Bacon was plainly much more civilised. He
wrote to him on September 27, 1989 on the notepaper of his agents,
the Marlborough Gallery:
Thank you for your letter and for your drawing. I am glad to hear
you are well. I wish I could say the same for myself as I have been
ill for some time.
About your friend Paul Lake [the artist whose portrait of the
Krays sold as a limited-edition print] I will write to him in reply
to his letter. Yours very sincerely, Francis Bacon.
A cursory enough note, but fascinating because of both the
sender and the receiver. Which took precedence at Chiswick Auctions
is moot, but it sold at £7400 via the-saleroom.com.
The buyer's premium was 17.02 per cent plus VAT.