Jumbo art makes staggering £231,500 at auction for Luton's Keech Hospice Care

The highest price on the night was an astonishing £25,000

Friday, 12th November 2021, 9:44 am
Updated Friday, 12th November 2021, 9:59 am

38 life-size elephant sculptures which have featured in a spectacular, free, outdoor public art exhibit in Luton this summer, The Big Trunk Trail, have been sold for a staggering £231,500.

Bidders battled it out for the colourful creatures at a gala event last night at The Conservatory at the Walled Garden on the Luton Hoo Estate, led by TV celebrity auctioneer, Charles Hanson.

The highest price on the night was an astonishing £25,000 bid by Dunstable businessman, Alan Corkhill of Guideline Publications, who bought Unity, the first elephant to be decorated for the trail.

Charles Hanson: Going, Going, Gone for Unity

Mr Corkhill’s generosity didn’t stop there. He paid £4,800 for Flame, which his company also sponsored and which will now be put proudly on display at his office; £5,500 for Flypast which he hopes will live at London Luton Airport and £6,000 for mini-elephant Peanut who he intends to give back to Keech Hospice Care.

“I hope Unity can go in Wardown Park to compliment the bandstand,” he said, “because Luton needs and deserves unity. As for Keech Hospice Care, well hospices should never have to say thank you should they, so I was just delighted to be able to give them a bit of support.”

Charles Hanson was thrilled with how well the auction went. “The explosion of joy in the room, the love people so clearly have for Keech Hospice Care, the incredible sense of unity; it was so amazing to be here. Every auctioneer wants theatre, drama and romance to make the perfect night, and that’s exactly what we had tonight.”

Other elephants that went under the hammer included one painted for Bake Off star, Nadiya Hussain and one for the Captain Tom Moore Foundation which went for £4,000 and £12,000 respectively. A Luton Town themed elephant went for £6,000.

Alan Corkhill and his elephants

The elephants were decorated and sold in support of Keech Hospice Care, which provides free, specialist care for adults in Luton and south Bedfordshire, and children from Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Milton Keynes.

The charity’s CEO, Liz Searle, was thrilled with the results of the auction and said, “We set up the Big Trunk Trail to celebrate our 30th year and to say thank you to the people of the area for their support over three decades. The people who’ve dug so deep to buy their elephants tonight have paid back in spades both to us and the public we serve. Thank you to all of them.”

Love Luton has been immensely proud to have been the Project Presenting Partner for the amazing art trail in 2021. Chair Linsey Sweet said: “We strongly believed people would be generous in bidding for the amazing pieces of art, but we could never have imagined they would have been quite so prepared to dig deep and support the trail in such a fantastic way.

"The last couple of years have been tough for everyone and seeing the elephants go under the hammer tonight and off to their forever homes confirms what I already knew, that the people of Luton and beyond are willing to step up and support an amazing charity that touches and supports so many families.”

The elephant sculptures were produced by Wild in Art, a leading producer of public art events. Charlie Langhorne, managing director and co-founder at Wild in Art, said: “The Big Trunk Trail has been a great event and we’ve been proud to be involved with such a wonderful charity as Keech Hospice Care. The auction at the end of the event like this is the culmination of so much hard work by so many people and it’s inspiring to see the commitment to the project by the people at the charity and all the businesses which have sponsored it being repaid with such fabulous prices being achieved.”