Lucien Freud Note to Neighbor & Paint Rags at Bonhams

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A contrite note written in 1987 from painter Lucien Freud to his downstairs neighbour, apologising for the loss of television reception in the building, is to be sold at Bonhams Fine Books, Atlases, Manuscripts and Photographs Sale on 12 November in London. It is estimated at £1,000-1,500 and is being offered with one of the artist’s famous paint rags which fell onto the same neighbour’s balcony one day.

The letter was written to Mrs Jo Statham who lived in the flat below the painter at 36 Holland Park.  During repairs to the roof, the TV aerial was moved and attached to a rusty pipe which then fell down causing a loss of reception. Mrs Statham had been watching the first series of the groundbreaking German TV programme Heimat which traced the lives of a family in the Rhineland from 1919-1982. BBC 2 broadcast Heimat on eleven consecutive nights and because of the mishap with the aerial Mrs Statham missed the eleventh and final episode—particularly annoying in the days before iplayer when there was no way of catching up.

Freud’s letter explains what happened and why it was not possible for her to go onto the roof and repair the aerial herself.

The full text of Freud’s letter reads:

“12.30

Dear Mrs Statham

Sorry about Heimat. My builder tells me that your aerial was wrongly fixed to a rusty expansion pipe where it collapsed of its own accord. They are in the middle of a crucial job and want no one on the roof. They will be back on Monday—perhaps you could talk to them about it.  Regards LF”

The paint rag was almost certainly one of those which appears so prominently in the background of Freud’s Triple Portrait on which he was working at the time it fell onto Mrs Statham’s balcony. She did offer to return it but Freud declined.

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