Five drawings produced by one of Britain’s most notorious prisoners will not go under the hammer after they were withdrawn from auction at the eleventh hour.
The artworks by Charles Bronson, now known as Charles Salvador, were due to be sold on 27 January 2018 in Oxford. Proceeds from the auction were to be given to Homes4All, an action group serving homeless people in Oxford. On Monday (8 January 2018), Homes4All decided against the sale and instructed the organiser of the auction to withdraw the artworks.
Salvador has been imprisoned at HMP Wakefield for 44 years. He was first jailed for armed robbery in 1974 and is currently serving a life sentence for robbery and kidnapping. A former bare-knuckle boxer, Salvador has a history of violent behaviour and attacking prison staff and fellow inmates. Claiming to have reformed his ways, he changed his name by deed poll in 2014 in honour of Salvador Dali, to reflect his newfound passion for art.
Organiser of the auction, Tami Warriner, said she has long supported Salvador and contacted him to see if he would donate some of his artworks for the fundraising auction. Warriner described him as ‘a very nice person to get in touch with’ who is ‘doing everything in his power that he can to make his way through the prison system’. She also believes he is an ‘amazing artist’.
Homes4All trustee, Christina Hopkinson, said when the charity was first approached by Warriner it was unaware of the origin of the artworks. The decision to withdraw Salvador’s drawings from auction was made as soon as the identity of the artist was revealed. Hopkinson said the trustees planned to meet and discuss the appropriateness of selling the works.
Oxford City Council Green group leader, David Thomas, agreed with Homes4All’s decision to cancel the sale of Salvador’s drawings and said it was dangerous to associate the charity with a prisoner. ‘The value of the paintings, even though he is a reformed character, would be based on his notoriety and previous life’, he added.
This is not the first time Salvador’s art has been auctioned. In October 2014, 200 of his works, a script from the film ‘Bronson’ and a tuft of his shaved off beard were sold for over £30,000 at auction in Towcester, Northamptonshire. Part of the sale proceeds was donated to the Brain Tumour Charity and Keech Hospice in Luton.
“Whilst crime does not pay, there are plenty of people willing to pay for crime-related items”, organiser of the 2014 auction, Jonathan Humbert, said.