ronnie & reggie – the art of the krays

24 August 2010 § 2 Comments

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Two artists that were more likely to have a brush with the law than one with a canvas (sorry!) are the notorious East End gangsters, the Kray twins. They did however manage to produce a number of works whilst they were in ‘the slammer’ and, with a total of nearly 60 years behind bars, there was certainly no lack of spare time to practice their brushwork. I already knew much of their art, not least because last January I was at Chiswick Auctions at an auction of Kray possessions where a small attractive landscape took my eye. With a reserve price in the hundreds it looked good value as a novelty investment but sharp bidding took it quickly up to £3200. I settled for a signed book of Ronnies Poetry (!) for a couple of hundred instead.

This week it has just been announced by Bloomsbury Auctions that five paintings, in this case produced by Reggie in 1986, are due to be sold at auction. Although clearly amateurish it turns out that these works are actually not that bad. I actually love the Kirchner styled street scene whilst a couple of impressionistic landscapes recalling Monet have some artistic qualities too.

Value? There is a recent history of Kray paintings on the market. Another of Ronnie’s at Chiswick sold for £4,800 whilst a couple of months later in Andover in March 2009 nine paintings tripled their low estimates and sold for £17,000. Back in 2008, in Suffolk, eight paintings in one lot fetched a total of £16,000. The Blomsbury sale has five canvases plus a batch of letters estimated at £1,500 to £2,000- a price which looks like it is set at a deliberately low level in order to tempt in potential buyers. Look for a price to match previous sales – about £2000 each  looks right – with a hammer of well over £10,000 on the day.

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§ 2 Responses to ronnie & reggie – the art of the krays

  • criticismism says:

    I had no idea that the Krays painted. Weirder still to find them producing works which are, as you say, quite easy on the eye.

    I suppose violent crime can lead on to better things, just as art can lead to, in Hitler’s case, much worse things.

    Perhaps his watercolours and those paintings by the Krays should be valued all the more for their harmlessness, when you consider the evils of which these men were capable.


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