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Mystery of missing Rolling Stones album cover negatives solved after 38 years

PUBLISHED: 08:15 24 January 2013

Peter Webb photographed the Rolling Stones for the Sticky Fingers album cover. Picture: Peter Webb

Peter Webb photographed the Rolling Stones for the Sticky Fingers album cover. Picture: Peter Webb

Peter Webb

Pop artist Andy Warhol and the Rolling Stones suspected after photographer Peter Webb's box of negatives was lost for 38 years.

Peter Webb lost the box of negatives from the Rolling Stones shoot and it whereabouts remained a mystery for 38 yearsPeter Webb lost the box of negatives from the Rolling Stones shoot and it whereabouts remained a mystery for 38 years

A brooding exhibition of Rolling Stones photographs at Zebra Gallery has been one of the hits of the Hampstead winter season.

But photographer Peter Webb, who shot the inside cover of the band’s Sticky Fingers album and exhibited at the gallery in Perrin’s Court, has revealed his years of niggling torment after the box of negatives from the shoot went missing.

The box had been at the photographer’s studio in Park Village, near Regent’s Park, which at the time was rather run down, he explained at a private view organised by exhibition sponsors, solicitors RA Savage & Co, on Friday (January 18).

But Peter was unable to find the negative box for 38 years and harboured suspicions that Andy Warhol – who shot the Sticky Fingers album cover, Warhol’s assistant Craig Braun or even the Rolling Stones themselves had taken the precious stills.

That was until Peter received a phone call while standing on a ladder fixing the roof of a barn at his Hertfordshire home in 2009.

It was his brother-in-law Bill Peirce, also a photographer.

Bill had been rooting in his attic in Kentish Town and found a box of negatives he didn’t recognise.

Peter asked him to describe the images and was convinced they were the long-lost negatives of the Stones shoot.

Peter watched scanned files slowly download on his computer and realised the mystery of the missing negatives was finally solved.

Many years before Peter had given them to Bill for safe-keeping after break-ins at his studio and had promptly forgotten about it.

He said: “Andy Warhol and Craig Braun hadn’t stolen them and the Stones also were free of suspicion – and anyone else I could blame it on!

“The nice thing was Bill obviously looked after his own negatives and they remained cared-for for all those years. Happy endings really only happen in movies. When something’s gone it’s usually gone.”

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