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Elton John snaps up a heavyweight work of art in Venice

3 June 2011

VENICE. British musician and art collector Elton John found time for a spot of shopping yesterday in Venice as he toured a show organised by his friend, the Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk. John and his partner David Furnish visited the Palazzo Papadopoli on the Grand Canal for a private tour of work by artists shortlisted for the Future Generation Art Prize, a biennial $100,000 award given to a young, international artist by the Pinchuk Art Centre and the Victor Pinchuk Foundation in Kiev.

As the singer and his partner surveyed the contemporary art on display in the frescoed halls of the 16th-century palace, three monumental concrete slabs by the artist Ruben Ochoa from Los Angeles, which appear to have been ripped out of a highway and transposed to the palazzo, caught their attention.

After a quick chat with Ochoa, John pointed to the sculpture in the middle of the room and proudly declared "sold". When asked what the pop star had talked about, the artist said: "He showed me a picture of his new baby."

Ochoa's dealer, Susanne Vielmetter, said each concrete sculpture costs $75,000. They were made in Treviso, near Venice, for the art prize exhibition. When they were brought to the Venetian palazzo, they had to be installed by crane. However, as one of them weighed over 4,000kg and was too heavy for the elegant marble floors, it had to be replaced at the last minute.

John's new acquisition, Twenty-Seven Hundred And Eighty-Five Kilos Of Displacement Plus Metal Plate, 2011, is a little lighter as its title suggests. "[He] wants it for his garden in Windsor," Pinchuk later told The Art Newspaper. John and Furnish are major buyers of contemporary photography and have built a private gallery to display their collection at their home in Windsor, near London. John also serves on the board of the Future Generation Art Prize.