Mystery donor sticks neck out for charity

A MYSTERIOUS statue of a giraffe which turned up on the doorstep of a Golders Green charity has earned hundreds of pounds for good causes

Ed Thomas

A MYSTERIOUS statue of a giraffe which turned up on the doorstep of a Golders Green charity has earned hundreds of pounds for good causes.

The bronze sculpture of a giraffe and her offspring was left at the offices of Jewish Care by someone representing a generous but anonymous benefactor.

Not knowing what to do with the 19-inch artwork, staff at the charity made inquiries about it among art experts and found it was the work of Zimbabwean-born sculptor Llewellyn Davies.

It has now gone under the hammer at Bonhams for more than £2,000 and the money raised from the sale will help Jewish Care continue its work with the elderly, infirm, refugees and Holocaust survivors.

"We set about researching the sculptor on the internet and contacted an art dealer in South Africa, who told us about the Bonhams sale," said Daniel Casson, Jewish Care's assistant director of fundraising.

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"Obviously we were very pleased to receive this generous gift and delighted to hear it had been sold.

"The person who gave us the giraffe showed how you can make an important contribution to the future of care in the Jewish community by donating a valuable work of art that you no longer have space for or want in your home."

Llewellyn Davies is well-known for his bronze works of South African wildlife. Born in 1950 on a ranch, he grew up modelling animals in clay while working on the family farm.

After finding artistic fame in his adult years, his works are now exhibited in collections around the world.

The Bonhams auction in New Bond Street on January 30 was the biggest ever sale of South African artwork in history, with millions of pounds being exchanged on the day.

The auction house's director of South African art, Giles Peppiatt, said: "We had 280 lots which made £4million in total.

"Lot 187 - this bronze giraffe by Llewellyn Davies - made £2,160 which I know Jewish Care were particularly pleased with.

"It is a charming study of a giraffe nuzzling and attending to its young. It made a respectable sum in the auction as Llewellyn Davies is a popular artist who specialises in South African animals.

"Unfortunately we are not at liberty to say who bought the piece. But we have noticed that a lot of South African works are held in the Ham&High area of north London.

"A lot of South African people live up there, and they show particular interest in buying and selling these works."

Jewish Care has no idea who bequeathed the statue to them, but are delighted by having the extra funds to put to good use.

The health and social care charity helps more than 7,000 people every week at 70 care centres in the London area.

A spokesman from the Golders Green Road head office, where the statue was delivered, said: "After Bonhams took an auctioneer's cut, we have ended up with more than £1,500 which will help our services.

"We run care homes and community centres, and help people such as those with mental health problems or Alzheimer's.

"We have no idea where this bronze statue came from. Our staff opened the door one day to an interior designer who said their client wanted to donate it. But they were not allowed to say who the owner was.

"It's a complete mystery to us, but it's fantastic. Maybe it will encourage other people to do the same."