A RETIRED postman who made tens of thousands of pounds through gambling has been forced to sell off the art collection he amassed after his luck turned.
Alan Briscoe, 60, from Washington, had a collection including a signed print by Damien Hirst, more than 30 pictures by the society photographer Lord Lichfield and work by Australian artist Sydney Nolan.
The Journal reported on Friday how the art is due to go under the hammer with Anderson and Garland Auctioneers in Westerhope, Newcastle, at the end of the month.
Mr Briscoe, who lives with his mother, said he made a small fortune through spread betting on sports, using the differences in odds between bookmakers to ensure he would always make a profit.
At the peak of his gambling, he was feeding around £250,000 a year into spread bets.
With the profit, Mr Briscoe would get carried away at real and online auctions, snapping up art, ceramics and first-edition books.
“I got so many prints and pictures I didn’t even have space to hang them in the house. I put them under beds and in the attic. Some of them were still in bubble wrap,” he said.
“I am interested in art but I hoped they would be an investment for my retirement.”
He claimed he then became too successful at gambling and was barred by two companies he used to place bets.
“Then I started making silly, amateurish bets again and lost it all,” he said. “I ended up so much in debt that I had to take a couple of loans.”
It was then that he asked Anderson and Garland to put the art he had bought up for sale.
John Anderson, who came to inspect the collection, said: “When I first saw them all together, I thought, ‘Blimey, this is marvellous’.”
The print by Damien Hirst is a special cover the artist designed for the Independent newspaper’s “abolish world poverty” edition. It is signed both by Hirst and U2 frontman Bono, the edition’s guest editor.
The images by Lord Lichfield, who photographed the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer, include portraits of the late Princess of Wales, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh and boxer Henry Cooper. Mr Anderson said it was difficult to predict how much the works would raise, but hoped the Hirst would sell for a four-figure sum.
The Lord Lichfield collection could raise up to £10,000, he said.
Mr Briscoe added he was sad and disappointed to see the works go.
“I hope it will clear my debts and give me something for retirement,” he said.
The sale will take place on Thursday, March 28, at Anderson House, Westerhope. The auction will be part of a three-day event between March 26-28, where collectors’ items including whiskeys and radios will also be under the hammer.