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PUBLISHED: 13:10 22 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:50 07 September 2010

Katie Davies THE famous illustrator of Hunter S Thompson s work had a precious personal letter from the gonzo journalist stolen when he gave a talk to fans in north London. Ralph Steadman, 72, spoke at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn about the late Americ

Katie Davies

THE famous illustrator of Hunter S Thompson's work had a precious personal letter from the gonzo journalist stolen when he gave a talk to fans in north London.

Ralph Steadman, 72, spoke at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn about the late American writer, after a screening of the new film on his life Gonzo: The Life And Works Of Dr Hunter S Thompson.

While Mr Steadman talked to fans and signed books afterwards, someone stole an original fax which was among the artist's possessions.

Mr Steadman, who illustrated Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas as well as much more of Thompson's work, said: "It was a fax he sent me on Christmas day in 1988. It started Merry Christmas! HO! HO! HO! And was handwritten - six pages long.

"I took it along to read out and I just never thought to make a copy of it. I left it on stage while I talked to people and while I was doing that someone just lifted it.

"It is a rotten thing to do. A dirty little trick. I would have been happy to make a copy for the person who took it and I would have signed it for them, done a drawing - anything they wanted.

"I didn't think that someone would steal it. That is not gonzo it's bad gonzo - it's bonzo."

Mr Steadman is known for his work on Punch, Private Eye and New Statesman, as well as being the long established partner in crime to the writer.

The pair met in Kentucky when Mr Steadman was sent to cover a race meeting for a magazine.

After a week's drinking they became friends for more than 35 years and started the partnership which is now world-famous.

Mr Steadman was the man who organised the funeral Thompson had been planning for years, after he shot himself in 2005. His ashes were launched into the air with a cannon.

"I've got lots of stuff but that's not the point," Mr Steadman continued.

"It is part of the gonzo collection. It was a letter in what he would have called his gibberish. It was about an animal he killed - some kind of dog - because it was threatening his peacocks.

"I don't steal things from people so why should they steal from me?

"I don't know why people have to be like that but I think that's the way we are now - we've gone down that terrible road of meanness.

"I don't think people were ever as mean as they are now."

Mr Steadman travelled from his home in Kent for the talk and has offered to send a signed copy to anyone who returns the original letter.

The theatre is calling on anyone with information to come forward. Tricycle artistic director Nicolas Kent said: "Ralph very generously gave up his time to come and do the Q&A at the Tricycle. I'm very sad that somebody came and took away his treasured possession.

"Maybe they thought it was not important, but I know that it is and I know that he would like it back.


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