Where's PETA when you need them?
The art world, confusing at the best of times, took another right-angled lurch at Bonhams auction house yesterday.You just can't make this stuff up!
Amid wild scenes, three paintings by a chimpanzee were sold for £14,400, more than 20 times their estimate.
In the same sale an Andy Warhol painting and a small Renoir sculpture attracted so little interest that they had to be withdrawn.
The chimp daubings are believed to be the first works of art by a non-human to go under the hammer. But they were executed by no ordinary chimp. They were painted in the late 1950s by Congo, a celebrity chimp resident in London Zoo who was hailed as the Cezanne of the ape world.
Picasso acquired one of Congo's 400 works, Miro swapped two of his paintings for one of Congo's, and Salvador Dali was so smitten with the ape's canvases that he declared: ''The hand of the chimpanzee is quasihuman; the hand of Jackson Pollock is totally animal!"
Bidding for Congo's three works together started at £1,000 - they had originally been given an estimated sale price of £600-£800 separately - and ended with two telephone bidders slogging it out.
Victory went to Howard Hong, a private collector in Los Angeles who described himself as an enthusiast of modern and contemporary painting. He immediately issued a statement that could have come from the Dali phrasebook, saying that Congo's painting "represents the complete evolution of mankind".