Auction of Tracey Emin and Gilbert and George artworks helps Soho favourite The French House

·2-min read
<p>The one-off auction to help The French House was held over 24 hours on May 8  with works from Emin, <a href=

The one-off auction to help The French House was held over 24 hours on May 8 with works from Emin,

Gilbert and George, Joe Hesketh and Keith Haring

(Dave Benett)" />

Soho favourite The French House has raised £65,000 to help save it from closure by running an art auction with works from artists including Tracey Emin.

The one-off auction was held over 24 hours this month and included pieces from Emin, Gilbert and George, Joe Hesketh and Keith Haring.

The French House is a Soho institution and is often frequented by some of the biggest names in the creative industries.

Madness frontman Suggs, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and chef Fergus Henderson are among the stars who donated works to the auction.

Founder of the auction and one of the venue’s managers Hilary Penn said the “generous” £65,000 total would go towards paying a £55,000 rent bill due next month.

Last year, the venue crowdfunded £80,000 to help it survive the pandemic - but Penn said they wanted to run an auction this time to offer “people who donated something for their money.”

Adrian Lourie
Adrian Lourie

The rest of the funds will help the venue survive as lockdown restrictions slowly ease and until they are able to operate at full capacity.

The French House has been open again with outside dining from April 12, but Ms Penn said the money raise hadn’t even “covered the wages.”

As on Monday, it opened to customers indoors. The venue started life as a pub called York Minster opened by German owner Christian Schmitt in 1891. It was renamed following a fire and subsequent renovation in 1984.

Brendan Behan wrote large portions of play The Quare Fellow at The French House and Dylan Thomas legendarily left a manuscript of Under Milk Wood in the venue under a chair after one long session in the pub.

Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon and Malcolm Lowry were among other regulars.

The French House famously only serves half pints except on 1 April - April Fool’s Day - when they serve full pints and Suggs pours the first of the day.

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