Tony’s matchstick men sell for £15m

A collection of Lowry paintings owned by a self-made Newmarket millionaire has sold at auction for more than £15 million.

Waste paper tycoon and racehorse owner, Tony Thompson, who lived in Six Mile Bottom, and died last July, had collected Lowry’s work since 1982.

He only bought work by the Salford artist and acquired his first painting in 1982 when he paid £16,000 for Street Musicians. On Tuesday the painting sold for £842,500 to a private American collector.

It was one of 15 paintings which went under the hammer at Sotheby’s in London, 13 of which were sold with two failing to meet their reserve price.

A painting of Piccadilly Circus in London, for which Mr Thompson paid £5.6m in 2011, was the biggest draw of the night, selling for £5.1million to an anonymous collector.

After the sale Frances Christie, Sotheby’s head of modern and post-war British art, said: “Underlying this evening’s success was notable international bidding for an artist who is typically considered to have a particularly British appeal. Tonight’s result is testament Tony’s passion for L S Lowry and his talent in assembling such an extraordinary collection.”

When Mr Thompson died suddenly, aged 68, leaving no will, the ownership of his collection reverted to his sister, Dawn Saddler, who put it up for sale. “He just loved Lowry – the man and the paintings,” she said. “As the obsession grew he collected and collected. He was a simple man, just like Lowry.”